ORIENTAL STOCKS PRESSURED

“The only sure way of making money is through insider trading! That’s why most traders are insider traders, real or imagined. The trick of the game is to differentiate an insider tip from a malevolent rumor and from a stupid rumor.” Basil Venitis, venitis@gmail.com, https://venitism.wordpress.com

Asian shares slumped on Wednesday after Wall Street was knocked hard in the wake of a delay to a U.S. healthcare reform vote, while the euro rallied after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi hinted that the ECB could trim its stimulus this year.

Precious metals, gold coins, and silver coins are very bad investments, because there are sales taxes on them in USA and value added taxes in EU and many other countries.  Derivatives of precious metals are very bad speculations, because they are very volatile and churned like hell in trading commissions, making your broker very rich and you very poor.

Mass-market products such as exchange-traded funds are being concocted using the same flawed statistical techniques you find in scholarly journals. Most of the empirical research in finance is likely false. This implies that half the financial products promising outperformance that companies are selling to clients are false. Investors are being ripped off by investment firms that charge hefty fees while producing results that are no better than you’d get throwing darts at a page of stock listings.

The core of the problem is that it’s hard to beat the market, but people keep trying anyway. An abundance of computing power makes it possible to test thousands, even millions, of trading strategies. The standard method is to see how the strategy would have done if it had been used during the ups and downs of the market over, say, the past 20 years. This is called backtesting. As a quality check, the technique is then tested on a separate set of out-of-sample data, i.e., market history that wasn’t used to create the technique.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4 percent, pulling further away from more than two-year highs probed earlier this week. On Monday, it touched its highest level since May 2015.

Torturing the data until it confesses is p-hacking, a reference to the p-value, a measure of statistical significance. P-hacking is also known as overfitting, data-mining—or data-snooping. The more you search over the past, the more likely it is you are going to find exotic patterns that you happen to like or focus on. Those patterns are least likely to repeat.

Index funds are cheap because their sponsors don’t need to hire expensive stockpickers. The old adage applies: If asset managers and finance professors are super-smart, why ain’t they super-rich? The big money is being made by firms that ignore finance theory. 

The only sure way of making money is through insider trading!  That’s why most traders are insider traders, real or imagined.  The trick of the game is to differentiate an insider tip from a malevolent rumor and from a stupid rumor.  That’s where experience comes in.  I have been trading the markets for forty years, and I can smell the bullshit instantly. Insider trading is very healthy, because it helps the markets reach the equilibrium point soon.  All insider trading legislation is stupid.  You just cannot put all people in jail!

The permanent political class enriches itself at the expense of the rest of us. Insider trading is illegal, yet it is routine among kleptocrats. Normal individuals cannot get in on IPOs at the asking price, but kleptocrats do so routinely. Kleptocrats also get many hot issues, bypassing all fair procedures of distribution.  By funneling hundreds of millions of dollars or euros to supporters, even more campaign donations are ensured. An entire class of investors now makes all of its profits based on influence and access to kleptocrats.

Kleptocrats have transformed politics to trade. They are traders who use their power, access, and privileged information to generate wealth. And at the same time well-connected financiers and corporate leaders have made a business of politics. They come together to form a kleptocratic caste.

Political intelligence consultants are hired guns who dig for closely held information to be used to trade stocks. Many work for hedge funds and securities firms, who just happen to be some of the biggest political campaign contributors.

While everyone has the same right to be a constituent and the same right to be part of a political discussion, the opportunity just isn’t always there. There’s limited time and resources for everyone to be involved in every discussion. This incentivizes brokerages to cultivate or simply purchase political connections in order to preserve privileged access to profitable information. This flow of information is more difficult to regulate than lobbying, which is regulated, because it is traveling in the opposite direction, that is, from politicians to their constituents.

Trading without inside information is a handicap!  Inside trading is the normal thing to do. Otherwise, the odds are stack against you, as almost everybody else is insider trader. Handicapped traders eventually lose all their money, throwing it in the black hole of ignorance.  Be an insider trader, or do not trade at all.  Technical analysis is ridiculous, and fundamental analysis is yesterday’s news.  Inside trading is the only way to trade!

Insider traders can escape prosecution by publishing a sponsored post with the inside information before they trade it.   If the trade ticket shows a time stamp after the publication of a sponsored post, nobody can touch them, because it’s considered public information, not insider information anymore! 

Legislators do not understand that the objective of insider trading laws is counter-intuitive, to prevent people from using and markets from adjusting to the most accurate and timely information. The rules target non-public information, a legal, not economic concept. As a result, we are supposed to make today’s trades based on yesterday’s information. Unfortunately, keeping people ignorant is economic folly. We make more bad decisions, and markets take longer to adjust.

Insider trading laws imbalance markets by regulating only one-half of the trading equation. A good investor makes money by knowing when not to buy or sell as well as when to buy or sell. Many insider tips alert owners to hold their shares or not to buy other ones. The sooner people act on accurate information the sooner the market will reach the equilibrium price. Interfering with the adjustment process by prosecuting people for insider trading will take the market longer to adjust.

Individuals and companies are entitled to keep proprietary information and punish those who violate that trust. But the offense should be civil, not criminal. And the punishment should fit the charge. In no case is the government justified in using intrusive enforcement measures developed to combat violent crime. The government should stop punishing investors seeking to act on the most accurate and timely information. After all, that’s what the financial markets are all about.

Insider trading creates an arcane distinction between non-public and public information.  It presumes that investors should possess equal information and never know more than anyone else. It punishes traders for seeking to gain information known to some people but not to everyone.  It inhibits people from acting on and markets from reacting to the latest information. Enforcing insider trading laws does more to advance prosecutors’ careers than protect investors’ portfolios.  Information will never be perfect or equal.

Warren Buffett borrows to finance stocks that have low volatility, low price-to-book ratios, high profits, and high dividends. Donald Trump might have been even richer if, instead of dabbling in skyscrapers and casinos, he’d simply taken his eight-figure inheritance and sunk it into the stock market.

Fundamentally, stock markets are driven by popular narratives, which don’t need basis in solid fact. Such stories are thought viruses. They spread by contagion. Theories that seem to explain the stock market’s direction often work like this: First, they cause investors to take action that propels prices even further in the same direction. These narratives can affect people’s spending behavior, too, in turn affecting corporate profit margins, and so on. Sometimes such feedback loops continue for years.

The most prominent story seems to be one of a global slowdown with associated deflation. Underlying this tale are deeper, longer-term fears. There is a name for these concerns too. It is secular stagnation—the idea that there is disturbing evidence that the world economy may languish for a very long time, even for generations.

The current secular-stagnation story is less dramatic than that of the debt crisis. But because it’s so vague, the negative feedback loop can’t be resolved as neatly. The question may be whether this thought virus mutates into a more psychologically powerful version, one with enough narrative force to create a major bear market.

The main legal theory behind insider trading prosecutions is that corporate information belongs to the corporation, so employees shouldn’t be allowed to go around selling it. That makes some sense. It also makes one wonder why it isn’t left up to the corporation to discipline leakers and decide whether to press charges, but you could argue that most corporations would opt just to cover up the wrongdoing and move on.

When it comes to those who receive this information, though, it gets a lot harder to understand what public purpose is served by aggressively prosecuting them. This isn’t hubcaps or Old Master paintings, it’s information. And in general, the more information that gets out about a corporation, the better a job financial markets can do in pricing its securities.

There shouldn’t be any prohibitions on insider trading at all. Insider trading, it’s against the law, but not because the U.S. Congress ever explicitly set out to ban it. Today’s prosecutions are based on an ambitious 1961 Securities and Exchange Commission administrative order and a lot of federal court rulings since. Now the courts may have begun to turn back the tide. That seems like a positive development — especially if it causes smart, ambitious prosecutors to begin looking elsewhere for cases to win.

My financial strategies are based on inside information, libertarian economics, and chaos theory. My objective is to identify the significant undiscounted aspects of economy and industries. This is where the true opportunities for investors lie and where business can get the jump on competitors. My approach is top down, emphasizing the major themes, which will influence business and financial markets.

Financial traders are better at reading their ‘gut feelings’ than the general population – and the better they are at this ability, the more successful they are as traders. Gut feelings, known technically as interoceptive sensations, are sensations that carry information to the brain from many tissues of the body, including the heart and lungs, as well as the gut. They can report anything from body temperature to breathlessness, racing heart, fullness from the gut, bladder and bowel, and they underpin states such as hunger, thirst, pain, and anxiety.
We are often not conscious – or at least barely aware – of this information, but it provides valuable inputs in risky decision making. High-risk choices are accompanied by rapid and subtle physiological changes that feed back to the brain, affecting our decisions, and steering us away from gambles that are likely to lead to loss and towards those that are likely to lead to profit. This can enable people to make important decisions even before they are able to articulate the reasons for their choices.

High frequency trading involves buying and selling futures contracts for only a short period of time – seconds or minutes, a few hours at the most. This form of trading requires an ability to assimilate large amounts of information flowing through news feeds, to rapidly recognize price patterns, and to make large and risky decisions with split-second timing. This niche of the financial markets is particularly unforgiving: while successful traders may earn in excess of £10 million per year, unprofitable ones do not survive for long.

“We’ve had a pretty good run,” said Sean Darby, chief global equity strategist at Jefferies. “I suspect what people have owned has done very well, and they want to sell some of those positions.”

Japan’s Nikkei share average slipped 0.3 percent, facing headwinds from the dollar’s reversal of its rise against the yen. But the banking and insurance sectors outperformed on expectations of higher rates.

The yield on U.S. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes stood at 2.198 percent in Asian trading, flat from its U.S. close on Tuesday and above 2.14 percent late on Monday after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen said that it is appropriate to gradually raise rates.

“Yellen’s comment is supporting Japanese financial stocks today, and for the long-term, Japanese stocks are on the rising trend supported by U.S.-led global economic recovery,” said Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities.

On Tuesday, the benchmark S&P 500 posted its biggest one-day drop in about six weeks and closed at its lowest point since May 31, after the U.S. Senate’s move to delay voting on a healthcare reform bill rekindled worries on the timeline for President Donald Trump’s business-friendly policies. 

U.S. stocks accelerated their losses after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell decided to put off a planned vote on a bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act until after the Senate’s July 4 recess, to get more time to garner sufficient votes for its passage.

Against the perceived safe-haven yen, the dollar slipped 0.3 percent to 112.090 after rising as high as 112.285 yen, its highest since May 17.

The dollar index, which gauges the U.S. currency against a basket of six major counterparts, edged down slightly on the day to 96.365, well below its previous session high of 97.447.

The euro was up 0.4 percent at $1.13480 after rising to a 10-month high of $1.1356 after Draghi, speaking to a conference in Portugal, said the ECB could adjust its policy tools as economic prospects improve in Europe.

Some strategists said that once the dust settled from the impact of his comments, the euro could give back some of its gains.

“To me, it seems the change in policy will not be very substantial, so I think in the coming days, ECB officials will try to water down Draghi’s comments,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

Crude oil futures steadied after their overnight surge. Prices rose nearly 2 percent on Tuesday on the weaker dollar, short-covering and expectations that U.S. crude inventories might decline for a third consecutive week. 

Brent crude futures edged up slightly on the day to$46.66 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were down 0.2 percent at $44.14.

The weaker dollar helped bolster spot gold, which was up 0.4 percent at 1,252.50 per ounce.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s