An Introduction to Structured Products - Investopedia
Are Structured Notes And Structured Deposits Good Investments?
INVESTOPEDIA – INVESTING FOR BEGINNERS - SENDCOURSE
What are structured investments? - OptionsInvestopedia
Forex industry - Max-Angel-Investments
Understanding structured deposits - MoneySense
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Swaps* (*But Were Afraid To Ask)
Hello, dummies It's your old pal, Fuzzy. As I'm sure you've all noticed, a lot of the stuff that gets posted here is - to put it delicately - fucking ridiculous. More backwards-ass shit gets posted to wallstreetbets than you'd see on a Westboro Baptist community message board. I mean, I had a look at the daily thread yesterday and..... yeesh. I know, I know. We all make like the divine Laura Dern circa 1992 on the daily and stick our hands deep into this steaming heap of shit to find the nuggets of valuable and/or hilarious information within (thanks for reading, BTW). I agree. I love it just the way it is too. That's what makes WSB great. What I'm getting at is that a lot of the stuff that gets posted here - notwithstanding it being funny or interesting - is just... wrong. Like, fucking your cousin wrong. And to be clear, I mean the fucking your *first* cousin kinda wrong, before my Southerners in the back get all het up (simmer down, Billy Ray - I know Mabel's twice removed on your grand-sister's side). Truly, I try to let it slide. Idomybit to try and put you on the right path. Most of the time, I sleep easy no matter how badly I've seen someone explain what a bank liquidity crisis is. But out of all of those tens of thousands of misguided, autistic attempts at understanding the world of high finance, one thing gets so consistently - so *emphatically* - fucked up and misunderstood by you retards that last night I felt obligated at the end of a long work day to pull together this edition of Finance with Fuzzy just for you. It's so serious I'm not even going to make a u/pokimane gag. Have you guessed what it is yet? Here's a clue. It's in the title of the post. That's right, friends. Today in the neighborhood we're going to talk all about hedging in financial markets - spots, swaps, collars, forwards, CDS, synthetic CDOs, all that fun shit. Don't worry; I'm going to explain what all the scary words mean and how they impact your OTM RH positions along the way. We're going to break it down like this. (1) "What's a hedge, Fuzzy?" (2) Common Hedging Strategies and (3) All About ISDAs and Credit Default Swaps. Before we begin. For the nerds and JV traders in the back (and anyone else who needs to hear this up front) - I am simplifying these descriptions for the purposes of this post. I am also obviously not going to try and cover every exotic form of hedge under the sun or give a detailed summation of what caused the financial crisis. If you are interested in something specific ask a question, but don't try and impress me with your Investopedia skills or technical points I didn't cover; I will just be forced to flex my years of IRL experience on you in the comments and you'll look like a big dummy. TL;DR? Fuck you. There is no TL;DR. You've come this far already. What's a few more paragraphs? Put down the Cheetos and try to concentrate for the next 5-7 minutes. You'll learn something, and I promise I'll be gentle. Ready? Let's get started. 1.The Tao of Risk: Hedging as a Way of Life The simplest way to characterize what a hedge 'is' is to imagine every action having a binary outcome. One is bad, one is good. Red lines, green lines; uppie, downie. With me so far? Good. A 'hedge' is simply the employment of a strategy to mitigate the effect of your action having the wrong binary outcome. You wanted X, but you got Z! Frowny face. A hedge strategy introduces a third outcome. If you hedged against the possibility of Z happening, then you can wind up with Y instead. Not as good as X, but not as bad as Z. The technical definition I like to give my idiot juniors is as follows: Utilization of a defensive strategy to mitigate risk, at a fraction of the cost to capital of the risk itself. Congratulations. You just finished Hedging 101. "But Fuzzy, that's easy! I just sold a naked call against my 95% OTM put! I'm adequately hedged!". Spoiler alert: you're not (although good work on executing a collar, which I describe below). What I'm talking about here is what would be referred to as a 'perfect hedge'; a binary outcome where downside is totally mitigated by a risk management strategy. That's not how it works IRL. Pay attention; this is the tricky part. You can't take a single position and conclude that you're adequately hedged because risks are fluid, not static. So you need to constantly adjust your position in order to maximize the value of the hedge and insure your position. You also need to consider exposure to more than one category of risk. There are micro (specific exposure) risks, and macro (trend exposure) risks, and both need to factor into the hedge calculus. That's why, in the real world, the value of hedging depends entirely on the design of the hedging strategy itself. Here, when we say "value" of the hedge, we're not talking about cash money - we're talking about the intrinsic value of the hedge relative to the the risk profile of your underlying exposure. To achieve this, people hedge dynamically. In wallstreetbets terms, this means that as the value of your position changes, you need to change your hedges too. The idea is to efficiently and continuously distribute and rebalance risk across different states and periods, taking value from states in which the marginal cost of the hedge is low and putting it back into states where marginal cost of the hedge is high, until the shadow value of your underlying exposure is equalized across your positions. The punchline, I guess, is that one static position is a hedge in the same way that the finger paintings you make for your wife's boyfriend are art - it's technically correct, but you're only playing yourself by believing it. Anyway. Obviously doing this as a small potatoes trader is hard but it's worth taking into account. Enough basic shit. So how does this work in markets? 2. A Hedging Taxonomy The best place to start here is a practical question. What does a business need to hedge against? Think about the specific risk that an individual business faces. These are legion, so I'm just going to list a few of the key ones that apply to most corporates. (1) You have commodity risk for the shit you buy or the shit you use. (2) You have currency risk for the money you borrow. (3) You have rate risk on the debt you carry. (4) You have offtake risk for the shit you sell. Complicated, right? To help address the many and varied ways that shit can go wrong in a sophisticated market, smart operators like yours truly have devised a whole bundle of different instruments which can help you manage the risk. I might write about some of the more complicated ones in a later post if people are interested (CDO/CLOs, strip/stack hedges and bond swaps with option toggles come to mind) but let's stick to the basics for now. (i) Swaps A swap is one of the most common forms of hedge instrument, and they're used by pretty much everyone that can afford them. The language is complicated but the concept isn't, so pay attention and you'll be fine. This is the most important part of this section so it'll be the longest one. Swaps are derivative contracts with two counterparties (before you ask, you can't trade 'em on an exchange - they're OTC instruments only). They're used to exchange one cash flow for another cash flow of equal expected value; doing this allows you to take speculative positions on certain financial prices or to alter the cash flows of existing assets or liabilities within a business. "Wait, Fuzz; slow down! What do you mean sets of cash flows?". Fear not, little autist. Ol' Fuzz has you covered. The cash flows I'm talking about are referred to in swap-land as 'legs'. One leg is fixed - a set payment that's the same every time it gets paid - and the other is variable - it fluctuates (typically indexed off the price of the underlying risk that you are speculating on / protecting against). You set it up at the start so that they're notionally equal and the two legs net off; so at open, the swap is a zero NPV instrument. Here's where the fun starts. If the price that you based the variable leg of the swap on changes, the value of the swap will shift; the party on the wrong side of the move ponies up via the variable payment. It's a zero sum game. I'll give you an example using the most vanilla swap around; an interest rate trade. Here's how it works. You borrow money from a bank, and they charge you a rate of interest. You lock the rate up front, because you're smart like that. But then - quelle surprise! - the rate gets better after you borrow. Now you're bagholding to the tune of, I don't know, 5 bps. Doesn't sound like much but on a billion dollar loan that's a lot of money (a classic example of the kind of 'small, deep hole' that's terrible for profits). Now, if you had a swap contract on the rate before you entered the trade, you're set; if the rate goes down, you get a payment under the swap. If it goes up, whatever payment you're making to the bank is netted off by the fact that you're borrowing at a sub-market rate. Win-win! Or, at least, Lose Less / Lose Less. That's the name of the game in hedging. There are many different kinds of swaps, some of which are pretty exotic; but they're all different variations on the same theme. If your business has exposure to something which fluctuates in price, you trade swaps to hedge against the fluctuation. The valuation of swaps is also super interesting but I guarantee you that 99% of you won't understand it so I'm not going to try and explain it here although I encourage you to google it if you're interested. Because they're OTC, none of them are filed publicly. Someeeeeetimes you see an ISDA (dsicussed below) but the confirms themselves (the individual swaps) are not filed. You can usually read about the hedging strategy in a 10-K, though. For what it's worth, most modern credit agreements ban speculative hedging. Top tip: This is occasionally something worth checking in credit agreements when you invest in businesses that are debt issuers - being able to do this increases the risk profile significantly and is particularly important in times of economic volatility (ctrl+f "non-speculative" in the credit agreement to be sure). (ii) Forwards A forward is a contract made today for the future delivery of an asset at a pre-agreed price. That's it. "But Fuzzy! That sounds just like a futures contract!". I know. Confusing, right? Just like a futures trade, forwards are generally used in commodity or forex land to protect against price fluctuations. The differences between forwards and futures are small but significant. I'm not going to go into super boring detail because I don't think many of you are commodities traders but it is still an important thing to understand even if you're just an RH jockey, so stick with me. Just like swaps, forwards are OTC contracts - they're not publicly traded. This is distinct from futures, which are traded on exchanges (see The Ballad Of Big Dick Vick for some more color on this). In a forward, no money changes hands until the maturity date of the contract when delivery and receipt are carried out; price and quantity are locked in from day 1. As you now know having read about BDV, futures are marked to market daily, and normally people close them out with synthetic settlement using an inverse position. They're also liquid, and that makes them easier to unwind or close out in case shit goes sideways. People use forwards when they absolutely have to get rid of the thing they made (or take delivery of the thing they need). If you're a miner, or a farmer, you use this shit to make sure that at the end of the production cycle, you can get rid of the shit you made (and you won't get fucked by someone taking cash settlement over delivery). If you're a buyer, you use them to guarantee that you'll get whatever the shit is that you'll need at a price agreed in advance. Because they're OTC, you can also exactly tailor them to the requirements of your particular circumstances. These contracts are incredibly byzantine (and there are even crazier synthetic forwards you can see in money markets for the true degenerate fund managers). In my experience, only Texan oilfield magnates, commodities traders, and the weirdo forex crowd fuck with them. I (i) do not own a 10 gallon hat or a novelty size belt buckle (ii) do not wake up in the middle of the night freaking out about the price of pork fat and (iii) love greenbacks too much to care about other countries' monopoly money, so I don't fuck with them. (iii) Collars No, not the kind your wife is encouraging you to wear try out to 'spice things up' in the bedroom during quarantine. Collars are actually the hedging strategy most applicable to WSB. Collars deal with options! Hooray! To execute a basic collar (also called a wrapper by tea-drinking Brits and people from the Antipodes), you buy an out of the money put while simultaneously writing a covered call on the same equity. The put protects your position against price drops and writing the call produces income that offsets the put premium. Doing this limits your tendies (you can only profit up to the strike price of the call) but also writes down your risk. If you screen large volume trades with a VOL/OI of more than 3 or 4x (and they're not bullshit biotech stocks), you can sometimes see these being constructed in real time as hedge funds protect themselves on their shorts. (3) All About ISDAs, CDS and Synthetic CDOs You may have heard about the mythical ISDA. Much like an indenture (discussed in my post on $F), it's a magic legal machine that lets you build swaps via trade confirms with a willing counterparty. They are very complicated legal documents and you need to be a true expert to fuck with them. Fortunately, I am, so I do. They're made of two parts; a Master (which is a form agreement that's always the same) and a Schedule (which amends the Master to include your specific terms). They are also the engine behind just about every major credit crunch of the last 10+ years. First - a brief explainer. An ISDA is a not in and of itself a hedge - it's an umbrella contract that governs the terms of your swaps, which you use to construct your hedge position. You can trade commodities, forex, rates, whatever, all under the same ISDA. Let me explain. Remember when we talked about swaps? Right. So. You can trade swaps on just about anything. In the late 90s and early 2000s, people had the smart idea of using other people's debt and or credit ratings as the variable leg of swap documentation. These are called credit default swaps. I was actually starting out at a bank during this time and, I gotta tell you, the only thing I can compare people's enthusiasm for this shit to was that moment in your early teens when you discover jerking off. Except, unlike your bathroom bound shame sessions to Mom's Sears catalogue, every single person you know felt that way too; and they're all doing it at once. It was a fiscal circlejerk of epic proportions, and the financial crisis was the inevitable bukkake finish. WSB autism is absolutely no comparison for the enthusiasm people had during this time for lighting each other's money on fire. Here's how it works. You pick a company. Any company. Maybe even your own! And then you write a swap. In the swap, you define "Credit Event" with respect to that company's debt as the variable leg . And you write in... whatever you want. A ratings downgrade, default under the docs, failure to meet a leverage ratio or FCCR for a certain testing period... whatever. Now, this started out as a hedge position, just like we discussed above. The purest of intentions, of course. But then people realized - if bad shit happens, you make money. And banks... don't like calling in loans or forcing bankruptcies. Can you smell what the moral hazard is cooking? Enter synthetic CDOs. CDOs are basically pools of asset backed securities that invest in debt (loans or bonds). They've been around for a minute but they got famous in the 2000s because a shitload of them containing subprime mortgage debt went belly up in 2008. This got a lot of publicity because a lot of sad looking rednecks got foreclosed on and were interviewed on CNBC. "OH!", the people cried. "Look at those big bad bankers buying up subprime loans! They caused this!". Wrong answer, America. The debt wasn't the problem. What a lot of people don't realize is that the real meat of the problem was not in regular way CDOs investing in bundles of shit mortgage debts in synthetic CDOs investing in CDS predicated on that debt. They're synthetic because they don't have a stake in the actual underlying debt; just the instruments riding on the coattails. The reason these are so popular (and remain so) is that smart structured attorneys and bankers like your faithful correspondent realized that an even more profitable and efficient way of building high yield products with limited downside was investing in instruments that profit from failure of debt and in instruments that rely on that debt and then hedging that exposure with other CDS instruments in paired trades, and on and on up the chain. The problem with doing this was that everyone wound up exposed to everybody else's books as a result, and when one went tits up, everybody did. Hence, recession, Basel III, etc. Thanks, Obama. Heavy investment in CDS can also have a warping effect on the price of debt (something else that happened during the pre-financial crisis years and is starting to happen again now). This happens in three different ways. (1) Investors who previously were long on the debt hedge their position by selling CDS protection on the underlying, putting downward pressure on the debt price. (2) Investors who previously shorted the debt switch to buying CDS protection because the relatively illiquid debt (partic. when its a bond) trades at a discount below par compared to the CDS. The resulting reduction in short selling puts upward pressure on the bond price. (3) The delta in price and actual value of the debt tempts some investors to become NBTs (neg basis traders) who long the debt and purchase CDS protection. If traders can't take leverage, nothing happens to the price of the debt. If basis traders can take leverage (which is nearly always the case because they're holding a hedged position), they can push up or depress the debt price, goosing swap premiums etc. Anyway. Enough technical details. I could keep going. This is a fascinating topic that is very poorly understood and explained, mainly because the people that caused it all still work on the street and use the same tactics today (it's also terribly taught at business schools because none of the teachers were actually around to see how this played out live). But it relates to the topic of today's lesson, so I thought I'd include it here. Work depending, I'll be back next week with a covenant breakdown. Most upvoted ticker gets the post. *EDIT 1\* In a total blowout, $PLAY won. So it's D&B time next week. Post will drop Monday at market open.
Factset: How You can Invest in Hedge Funds’ Biggest Investment Tl;dr FactSet is the most undervalued widespread SaaS/IT solution stock that exists If any of you have relevant experience or are friends with people in Investment Banking/other high finance, you know that Factset is the lifeblood of their financial analysis toolkit if and when it’s not Bloomberg, which isn’t even publicly traded. Factset has been around since 1978 and it’s considered a staple like Bloomberg in many wealth management firms, and it offers some of the easiest to access and understandable financial data so many newer firms focused less on trading are switching to Factset because it has a lot of the same data Bloomberg offers for half the cost. When it comes to modern financial data, Factset outcompetes Reuters and arguably Bloomberg as well due to their API services which makes Factset much more preferable for quantitative divisions of banks/hedge funds as API integration with Python/R is the most important factor for vast data lakes of financial data, this suggests Factset will be much more prepared for programming making its way into traditional finance fields. According to Factset, their mission for data delivery is to: “Integrate the data you need with your applications, web portals, and statistical packages. Whether you need market, company, or alternative data, FactSet flexible data delivery services give you normalized data through APIs and a direct delivery of local copies of standard data feeds. Our unique symbology links and aggregates a variety of content sources to ensure consistency, transparency, and data integrity across your business. Build financial models and power customized applications with FactSet APIs in our developer portal”. Their technical focus for their data delivery system alone should make it stand out compared to Bloomberg, whose UI is far more outdated and complex on top of not being as technically developed as Factset’s. Factset is the key provider of buy-side portfolio analysis for IBs, Hedge funds, and Private Equity firms, and it’s making its way into non-quantitative hedge funds as well because quantitative portfolio management makes automation of risk management and the application of portfolio theory so much easier, and to top it off, Factset’s scenario analysis and simulation is unique in its class. Factset also is able to automate trades based on individual manager risk tolerance and ML optimization for Forex trading as well. Not only does Factset provide solutions for financial companies, they are branching out to all corporations now and providing quantitative analytics for them in the areas of “corporate development, M&A, strategy, treasury, financial planning and analysis, and investor relations workflows”. Factset will eventually in my opinion reach out to Insurance Risk Management a lot more in the future as that’s a huge industry which has yet to see much automation of risk management yet, and with the field wide open, Factset will be the first to take advantage without a shadow of a doubt. So let’s dig into the company’s financials now: Their latest 8k filing reported the following: Revenue increased 2.6%, or $9.6 million, to $374.1 million compared with $364.5 million for the same period in fiscal 2019. The increase is primarily due to higher sales of analytics, content and technology solutions (CTS) and wealth management solutions. Annual Subscription Value (ASV) plus professional services was $1.52 billion at May 31, 2020, compared with $1.45 billion at May 31, 2019. The organic growth rate, which excludes the effects of acquisitions, dispositions, and foreign currency movements, was 5.0%. The primary contributors to this growth rate were higher sales in FactSet's wealth and research workflow solutions and a price increase in the Company's international region Adjusted operating margin improved to 35.5% compared with 34.0% in the prior year period primarily as a result of reduced employee-related operating expenses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased 11.0% to $2.63 compared with $2.37 for the same period in fiscal 2019. Adjusted diluted EPS rose 9.2% to $2.86 compared with $2.62 in the prior year period primarily driven by an improvement in operating results. The Company’s effective tax rate for the third quarter decreased to 15.0% compared with 18.6% a year ago, primarily due to an income tax expense in the prior year related to finalizing the Company's tax returns with no similar event for the three months ended May 31, 2020. FactSet increased its quarterly dividend by $0.05 per share or 7% to $0.77 marking the fifteenth consecutive year the Company has increased dividends, highlighting its continued commitment to returning value to shareholders. As you can see, there’s not much of a negative sign in sight here. It makes sense considering how FactSet’s FCF has never slowed down: https://preview.redd.it/frmtdk8e9hk51.png?width=276&format=png&auto=webp&s=1c0ff12539e0b2f9dbfda13d0565c5ce2b6f8f1a https://preview.redd.it/6axdb6lh9hk51.png?width=593&format=png&auto=webp&s=9af1673272a5a2d8df28f60f4707e948a00e5ff1 FactSet’s annual subscriptions and professional services have made its way to foreign and developing markets, and many of them are opting for FactSet’s cheaper services to reduce costs and still get copious amounts of data and models to work with. Here’s what FactSet had to say regarding its competitive position within the market of providing financial data in its last 10k: “Despite competing products and services, we enjoy high barriers to entry and believe it would be difficult for another vendor to quickly replicate the extensive databases we currently offer. Through our in-depth analytics and client service, we believe we can offer clients a more comprehensive solution with one of the broadest sets of functionalities, through a desktop or mobile user interface or through a standardized or bespoke data feed.” And FactSet is confident that their ML services cannot be replaced by anybody else in the industry either: “In addition, our applications, including our client support and service offerings, are entrenched in the workflow of many financial professionals given the downloading functions and portfolio analysis/screening capabilities offered. We are entrusted with significant amounts of our clients' own proprietary data, including portfolio holdings. As a result, our products have become central to our clients’ investment analysis and decision-making.” (https://last10k.com/sec-filings/fds#link_fullReport), if you read the full report and compare it to the most recent 8K, you’ll find that the real expenses this quarter were far lower than expected by the last 10k as there was a lower than expected tax rate and a 3% increase in expected operating margin from the expected figure as well. The company also reports a 90% customer retention rate over 15 years, so you know that they’re not lying when they say the clients need them for all sorts of financial data whether it’s for M&A or wealth management and Equity analysis: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/factset.asp https://preview.redd.it/yo71y6qj9hk51.png?width=355&format=png&auto=webp&s=a9414bdaa03c06114ca052304a26fae2773c3e45 FactSet also has remarkably good cash conversion considering it’s a subscription based company, a company structure which usually takes on too much leverage. Speaking of leverage, FDS had taken on a lot of leverage in 2015: https://preview.redd.it/oxaa1wel9hk51.png?width=443&format=png&auto=webp&s=13d60d2518980360c403364f7150392ab83d07d7 So what’s that about? Why were FactSet’s long term debts at 0 and all of a sudden why’d the spike up? Well usually for a company that’s non-cyclical and has a well-established product (like FactSet) leverage can actually be good at amplifying returns, so FDS used this to their advantage and this was able to help the share’s price during 2015. Also, as you can see debt/ebitda is beginning a rapid decline anyway. This only adds to my theory that FactSet is trying to expand into new playing fields. FactSet obviously didn’t need the leverage to cover their normal costs, because they have always had consistently growing margins and revenue so the debt financing was only for the sake of financing growth. And this debt can be considered covered and paid off, considering the net income growth of 32% between 2018 and 2019 alone and the EPS growth of 33% https://preview.redd.it/e4trju3p9hk51.png?width=387&format=png&auto=webp&s=6f6bee15f836c47e73121054ec60459f147d353e EBITDA has virtually been exponential for FactSet for a while because of the bang-for-buck for their well-known product, but now as FactSet ventures into algorithmic trading and corporate development the scope for growth is broadly expanded. https://preview.redd.it/yl7f58tr9hk51.png?width=489&format=png&auto=webp&s=68906b9ecbcf6d886393c4ff40f81bdecab9e9fd P/E has declined in the past 2 years, making it a great time to buy. https://preview.redd.it/4mqw3t4t9hk51.png?width=445&format=png&auto=webp&s=e8d719f4913883b044c4150f11b8732e14797b6d Increasing ROE despite lowering of leverage post 2016 https://preview.redd.it/lt34avzu9hk51.png?width=441&format=png&auto=webp&s=f3742ed87cd1c2ccb7a3d3ee71ae8c7007313b2b Mountains of cash have been piling up in the coffers increasing chances of increased dividends for shareholders (imo dividend is too low right now, but increasing it will tempt more investors into it), and on top of that in the last 10k a large buyback expansion program was implemented for $210m worth of shares, which shows how confident they are in the company itself. https://preview.redd.it/fliirmpx9hk51.png?width=370&format=png&auto=webp&s=1216eddeadb4f84c8f4f48692a2f962ba2f1e848 SGA expense/Gross profit has been declining despite expansion of offices I’m a bit concerned about the skin in the game leadership has in this company, since very few executives/board members have significant holdings in the company, but the CEO himself is a FactSet veteran, and knows his way around the company. On top of that, Bloomberg remains king for trading and the fixed income security market, and Reuters beats out FactSet here as well. If FactSet really wants to increase cash flow sources, the expansion into insurance and corp dev has to be successful. Summary: FactSet has a lot of growth still left in its industry which is already fast-growing in and of itself, and it only has more potential at its current valuation. Earnings September 24th should be a massive beat due to investment banking demand and growth plus Hedge fund requirements for data and portfolio management hasn’t gone anywhere and has likely increased due to more market opportunities to buy-in. Calls have shitty greeks, but if you're ballsy October 450s LOL, I'm holding shares I’d say it’s a great long term investment, and it should at least be on your watchlist.
No, the British did not steal $45 trillion from India
This is an updated copy of the version on BadHistory. I plan to update it in accordance with the feedback I got. I'd like to thank two people who will remain anonymous for helping me greatly with this post (you know who you are) Three years ago a festschrift for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri was published by Shubhra Chakrabarti, a history teacher at the University of Delhi and Utsa Patnaik, a Marxist economist who taught at JNU until 2010. One of the essays in the festschirt by Utsa Patnaik was an attempt to quantify the "drain" undergone by India during British Rule. Her conclusion? Britain robbed India of $45 trillion (or £9.2 trillion) during their 200 or so years of rule. This figure was immensely popular, and got republished in several major news outlets (here, here, here, here (they get the number wrong) and more recently here), got a mention from the Minister of External Affairs & returns 29,100 results on Google. There's also plenty of references to it here on Reddit. Patnaik is not the first to calculate such a figure. Angus Maddison thought it was £100 million, Simon Digby said £1 billion, Javier Estaban said £40 million see Roy (2019). The huge range of figures should set off some alarm bells. So how did Patnaik calculate this (shockingly large) figure? Well, even though I don't have access to the festschrift, she conveniently has written an article detailing her methodology here. Let's have a look.
How exactly did the British manage to diddle us and drain our wealth’ ? was the question that Basudev Chatterjee (later editor of a volume in the Towards Freedom project) had posed to me 50 years ago when we were fellow-students abroad.
This is begging the question.
After decades of research I find that using India’s commodity export surplus as the measure and applying an interest rate of 5%, the total drain from 1765 to 1938, compounded up to 2016, comes to £9.2 trillion; since $4.86 exchanged for £1 those days, this sum equals about $45 trillion.
This is completely meaningless. To understand why it's meaningless consider India's annual coconut exports. These are almost certainly a surplus but the surplus in trade is countered by the other country buying the product (indeed, by definition, trade surpluses contribute to the GDP of a nation which hardly plays into intuitive conceptualisations of drain). Furthermore, Dewey (2019) critiques the 5% interest rate.
She [Patnaik] consistently adopts statistical assumptions (such as compound interest at a rate of 5% per annum over centuries) that exaggerate the magnitude of the drain
The exact mechanism of drain, or transfers from India to Britain was quite simple.
Drain theory possessed the political merit of being easily grasped by a nation of peasants. [...] No other idea could arouse people than the thought that they were being taxed so that others in far off lands might live in comfort. [...] It was, therefore, inevitable that the drain theory became the main staple of nationalist political agitation during the Gandhian era.
The key factor was Britain’s control over our taxation revenues combined with control over India’s financial gold and forex earnings from its booming commodity export surplus with the world. Simply put, Britain used locally raised rupee tax revenues to pay for its net import of goods, a highly abnormal use of budgetary funds not seen in any sovereign country.
The issue with figures like these is they all make certain methodological assumptions that are impossible to prove. From Roy in Frankema et al. (2019):
the "drain theory" of Indian poverty cannot be tested with evidence, for several reasons. First, it rests on the counterfactual that any money saved on account of factor payments abroad would translate into domestic investment, which can never be proved. Second, it rests on "the primitive notion that all payments to foreigners are "drain"", that is, on the assumption that these payments did not contribute to domestic national income to the equivalent extent (Kumar 1985, 384; see also Chaudhuri 1968). Again, this cannot be tested. [...] Fourth, while British officers serving India did receive salaries that were many times that of the average income in India, a paper using cross-country data shows that colonies with better paid officers were governed better (Jones 2013).
Indeed, drain theory rests on some very weak foundations. This, in of itself, should be enough to dismiss any of the other figures that get thrown out. Nonetheless, I felt it would be a useful exercise to continue exploring Patnaik's take on drain theory.
The East India Company from 1765 onwards allocated every year up to one-third of Indian budgetary revenues net of collection costs, to buy a large volume of goods for direct import into Britain, far in excess of that country’s own needs.
So what's going on here? Well Roy (2019) explains it better:
Colonial India ran an export surplus, which, together with foreign investment, was used to pay for services purchased from Britain. These payments included interest on public debt, salaries, and pensions paid to government offcers who had come from Britain, salaries of managers and engineers, guaranteed profts paid to railway companies, and repatriated business profts. How do we know that any of these payments involved paying too much? The answer is we do not.
So what was really happening is the government was paying its workers for services (as well as guaranteeing profits - to promote investment - something the GoI does today Dalal (2019), and promoting business in India), and those workers were remitting some of that money to Britain. This is hardly a drain (unless, of course, Indian diaspora around the world today are "draining" it). In some cases, the remittances would take the form of goods (as described) see Chaudhuri (1983):
It is obvious that these debit items were financed through the export surplus on merchandise account, and later, when railway construction started on a large scale in India, through capital import. Until 1833 the East India Company followed a cumbersome method in remitting the annual home charges. This was to purchase export commodities in India out of revenue, which were then shipped to London and the proceeds from their sale handed over to the home treasury.
While Roy's earlier point argues better paid officers governed better, it is honestly impossible to say what part of the repatriated export surplus was a drain, and what was not. However calling all of it a drain is definitely misguided. It's worth noting that Patnaik seems to make no attempt to quantify the benefits of the Raj either, Dewey (2019)'s 2nd criticism:
she [Patnaik] consistently ignores research that would tend to cut the economic impact of the drain down to size, such as the work on the sources of investment during the industrial revolution (which shows that industrialisation was financed by the ploughed-back profits of industrialists) or the costs of empire school (which stresses the high price of imperial defence)
Since tropical goods were highly prized in other cold temperate countries which could never produce them, in effect these free goods represented international purchasing power for Britain which kept a part for its own use and re-exported the balance to other countries in Europe and North America against import of food grains, iron and other goods in which it was deficient.
Re-exports necessarily adds value to goods when the goods are processed and when the goods are transported. The country with the largest navy at the time would presumably be in very good stead to do the latter.
The British historians Phyllis Deane and WA Cole presented an incorrect estimate of Britain’s 18th-19th century trade volume, by leaving out re-exports completely. I found that by 1800 Britain’s total trade was 62% higher than their estimate, on applying the correct definition of trade including re-exports, that is used by the United Nations and by all other international organisations.
While interesting, and certainly expected for such an old book, re-exporting necessarily adds value to goods.
When the Crown took over from the Company, from 1861 a clever system was developed under which all of India’s financial gold and forex earnings from its fast-rising commodity export surplus with the world, was intercepted and appropriated by Britain. As before up to a third of India’s rising budgetary revenues was not spent domestically but was set aside as ‘expenditure abroad’.
So, what does this mean? Britain appropriated all of India's earnings, and then spent a third of it aboard? Not exactly. She is describing home charges see Roy (2019) again:
Some of the expenditures on defense and administration were made in sterling and went out of the country. This payment by the government was known as the Home Charges. For example, interest payment on loans raised to finance construction of railways and irrigation works, pensions paid to retired officers, and purchase of stores, were payments in sterling. [...] almost all money that the government paid abroad corresponded to the purchase of a service from abroad. [...] The balance of payments system that emerged after 1800 was based on standard business principles.India bought something and paid for it.State revenues were used to pay for wages of people hired abroad, pay for interest on loans raised abroad, and repatriation of profits on foreign investments coming into India. These were legitimate market transactions.
Indeed, if paying for what you buy is drain, then several billions of us are drained every day.
The Secretary of State for India in Council, based in London, invited foreign importers to deposit with him the payment (in gold, sterling and their own currencies) for their net imports from India, and these gold and forex payments disappeared into the yawning maw of the SoS’s account in the Bank of England.
It should be noted that India having two heads was beneficial, and encouraged investment per Roy (2019):
The fact that the India Office in London managed a part of the monetary system made India creditworthy, stabilized its currency, and encouraged foreign savers to put money into railways and private enterprise in India. Current research on the history of public debt shows that stable and large colonies found it easier to borrow abroad than independent economies because the investors trusted the guarantee of the colonist powers.
Against India’s net foreign earnings he issued bills, termed Council bills (CBs), to an equivalent rupee value. The rate (between gold-linked sterling and silver rupee) at which the bills were issued, was carefully adjusted to the last farthing, so that foreigners would never find it more profitable to ship financial gold as payment directly to Indians, compared to using the CB route. Foreign importers then sent the CBs by post or by telegraph to the export houses in India, that via the exchange banks were paid out of the budgeted provision of sums under ‘expenditure abroad’, and the exporters in turn paid the producers (peasants and artisans) from whom they sourced the goods.
Sunderland (2013) argues CBs had two main roles (and neither were part of a grand plot to keep gold out of India):
Council bills had two roles. They firstly promoted trade by handing the IO some control of the rate of exchange and allowing the exchange banks to remit funds to India and to hedge currency transaction risks. They also enabled the Indian government to transfer cash to England for the payment of its UK commitments.
The United Nations (1962) historical data for 1900 to 1960, show that for three decades up to 1928 (and very likely earlier too) India posted the second highest merchandise export surplus in the world, with USA in the first position. Not only were Indians deprived of every bit of the enormous international purchasing power they had earned over 175 years, even its rupee equivalent was not issued to them since not even the colonial government was credited with any part of India’s net gold and forex earnings against which it could issue rupees. The sleight-of-hand employed, namely ‘paying’ producers out of their own taxes, made India’s export surplus unrequited and constituted a tax-financed drain to the metropolis, as had been correctly pointed out by those highly insightful classical writers, Dadabhai Naoroji and RCDutt.
It doesn't appear that others appreciate their insight Roy (2019):
K. N. Chaudhuri rightly calls such practice ‘confused’ economics ‘coloured by political feelings’.
Surplus budgets to effect such heavy tax-financed transfers had a severe employment–reducing and income-deflating effect: mass consumption was squeezed in order to release export goods. Per capita annual foodgrains absorption in British India declined from 210 kg. during the period 1904-09, to 157 kg. during 1937-41, and to only 137 kg by 1946.
If even a part of its enormous foreign earnings had been credited to it and not entirely siphoned off, India could have imported modern technology to build up an industrial structure as Japan was doing.
This is, unfortunately, impossible to prove. Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication that India would've united (this is arguably more plausible than the given counterfactual1). Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication India would not have been nuked in WW2, much like Japan. Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication India would not have been invaded by lizard people, much like Japan. The list continues eternally. Nevertheless, I will charitably examine the given counterfactual anyway. Did pre-colonial India have industrial potential? The answer is a resounding no. From Gupta (1980):
This article starts from the premise that while economic categories - the extent of commodity production, wage labour, monetarisation of the economy, etc - should be the basis for any analysis of the production relations of pre-British India, it is the nature of class struggles arising out of particular class alignments that finally gives the decisive twist to social change. Arguing on this premise, and analysing the available evidence, this article concludes that there was little potential for industrial revolution before the British arrived in India because, whatever might have been the character of economic categories of that period,the class relations had not sufficiently matured to develop productive forces and the required class struggle for a 'revolution' to take place.
Yet all of this did not amount to an economic situation comparable to that of western Europe on the eve of the industrial revolution. Her technology - in agriculture as well as manufacturers - had by and large been stagnant for centuries. [...] The weakness of the Indian economy in the mid-eighteenth century, as compared to pre-industrial Europe was not simply a matter of technology and commercial and industrial organization. No scientific or geographical revolution formed part of the eighteenth-century Indian's historical experience. [...] Spontaneous movement towards industrialisation is unlikely in such a situation.
So now we've established India did not have industrial potential, was India similar to Japan just before the Meiji era? The answer, yet again, unsurprisingly, is no. Japan's economic situation was not comparable to India's, which allowed for Japan to finance its revolution. From Yasuba (1986):
All in all, the Japanese standard of living may not have been much below the English standard of living before industrialization, and both of them may have been considerably higher than the Indian standard of living. We can no longer say that Japan started from a pathetically low economic level and achieved a rapid or even "miraculous" economic growth. Japan's per capita income was almost as high as in Western Europe before industrialization, and it was possible for Japan to produce surplus in the Meiji Period to finance private and public capital formation.
The circumstances that led to Meiji Japan were extremely unique. See Tomlinson (1985):
Most modern comparisons between India and Japan, written by either Indianists or Japanese specialists, stress instead that industrial growth in Meiji Japan was the product of unique features that were not reproducible elsewhere. [...] it is undoubtably true that Japan's progress to industrialization has been unique and unrepeatable
So there you have it. Unsubstantiated statistical assumptions, calling any number you can a drain & assuming a counterfactual for no good reason gets you this $45 trillion number. Hopefully that's enough to bury it in the ground. 1. Several authors have affirmed that Indian identity is a colonial artefact. For example seeRajan 1969:
Perhaps the single greatest and most enduring impact of British rule over India is that it created an Indian nation, in the modern political sense. After centuries of rule by different dynasties overparts of the Indian sub-continent, and after about 100 years of British rule, Indians ceased to be merely Bengalis, Maharashtrians,or Tamils, linguistically and culturally.
But then, it would be anachronistic to condemn eighteenth-century Indians, who served the British, as collaborators, when the notion of 'democratic' nationalism or of an Indian 'nation' did not then exist.[...]Indians who fought for them, differed from the Europeans in having a primary attachment to a non-belligerent religion, family and local chief, which was stronger than any identity they might have with a more remote prince or 'nation'.
Chakrabarti, Shubra & Patnaik, Utsa (2018). Agrarian and other histories: Essays for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri. Colombia University Press Hickel, Jason (2018). How the British stole $45 trillion from India. The Guardian Bhuyan, Aroonim & Sharma, Krishan (2019). The Great Loot: How the British stole $45 trillion from India. Indiapost Monbiot, George (2020). English Landowners have stolen our rights. It is time to reclaim them. The Guardian Tsjeng, Zing (2020). How Britain Stole $45 trillion from India with trains | Empires of Dirt. Vice Chaudhury, Dipanjan (2019). British looted $45 trillion from India in today’s value: Jaishankar. The Economic Times Roy, Tirthankar (2019). How British rule changed India's economy: The Paradox of the Raj. Palgrave Macmillan Patnaik, Utsa (2018). How the British impoverished India. Hindustan Times Tuovila, Alicia (2019). Expenditure method. Investopedia Dewey, Clive (2019). Changing the guard: The dissolution of the nationalist–Marxist orthodoxy in the agrarian and agricultural history of India. The Indian Economic & Social History Review Chandra, Bipan et al. (1989). India's Struggle for Independence, 1857-1947. Penguin Books Frankema, Ewout & Booth, Anne (2019). Fiscal Capacity and the Colonial State in Asia and Africa, c. 1850-1960. Cambridge University Press Dalal, Sucheta (2019). IL&FS Controversy: Centre is Paying Up on Sovereign Guarantees to ADB, KfW for Group's Loan. TheWire Chaudhuri, K.N. (1983). X - Foreign Trade and Balance of Payments (1757–1947). Cambridge University Press Sunderland, David (2013). Financing the Raj: The City of London and Colonial India, 1858-1940. Boydell Press Dewey, Clive (1978). Patwari and Chaukidar: Subordinate officials and the reliability of India’s agricultural statistics. Athlone Press Smith, Lisa (2015). The great Indian calorie debate: Explaining rising undernourishment during India’s rapid economic growth. Food Policy Duh, Josephine & Spears, Dean (2016). Health and Hunger: Disease, Energy Needs, and the Indian Calorie Consumption Puzzle. The Economic Journal Vankatesh, P. et al. (2016). Relationship between Food Production and Consumption Diversity in India – Empirical Evidences from Cross Section Analysis. Agricultural Economics Research Review Gupta, Shaibal (1980). Potential of Industrial Revolution in Pre-British India. Economic and Political Weekly Raychaudhuri, Tapan (1983). I - The mid-eighteenth-century background. Cambridge University Press Yasuba, Yasukichi (1986). Standard of Living in Japan Before Industrialization: From what Level did Japan Begin? A Comment. The Journal of Economic History Tomblinson, B.R. (1985). Writing History Sideways: Lessons for Indian Economic Historians from Meiji Japan. Cambridge University Press Rajan, M.S. (1969). The Impact of British Rule in India. Journal of Contemporary History Bryant, G.J. (2000). Indigenous Mercenaries in the Service of European Imperialists: The Case of the Sepoys in the Early British Indian Army, 1750-1800. War in History
Factset: How You can Invest in Hedge Funds’ Biggest Investment Tl;dr FactSet is the most undervalued widespread SaaS/IT solution stock that exists If any of you have relevant experience or are friends with people in Investment Banking/other high finance, you know that Factset is the lifeblood of their financial analysis toolkit if and when it’s not Bloomberg, which isn’t even publicly traded. Factset has been around since 1978 and it’s considered a staple like Bloomberg in many wealth management firms, and it offers some of the easiest to access and understandable financial data so many newer firms focused less on trading are switching to Factset because it has a lot of the same data Bloomberg offers for half the cost. When it comes to modern financial data, Factset outcompetes Reuters and arguably Bloomberg as well due to their API services which makes Factset much more preferable for quantitative divisions of banks/hedge funds as API integration with Python/R is the most important factor for vast data lakes of financial data, this suggests Factset will be much more prepared for programming making its way into traditional finance fields. According to Factset, their mission for data delivery is to: “Integrate the data you need with your applications, web portals, and statistical packages. Whether you need market, company, or alternative data, FactSet flexible data delivery services give you normalized data through APIs and a direct delivery of local copies of standard data feeds. Our unique symbology links and aggregates a variety of content sources to ensure consistency, transparency, and data integrity across your business. Build financial models and power customized applications with FactSet APIs in our developer portal”. Their technical focus for their data delivery system alone should make it stand out compared to Bloomberg, whose UI is far more outdated and complex on top of not being as technically developed as Factset’s. Factset is the key provider of buy-side portfolio analysis for IBs, Hedge funds, and Private Equity firms, and it’s making its way into non-quantitative hedge funds as well because quantitative portfolio management makes automation of risk management and the application of portfolio theory so much easier, and to top it off, Factset’s scenario analysis and simulation is unique in its class. Factset also is able to automate trades based on individual manager risk tolerance and ML optimization for Forex trading as well. Not only does Factset provide solutions for financial companies, they are branching out to all corporations now and providing quantitative analytics for them in the areas of “corporate development, M&A, strategy, treasury, financial planning and analysis, and investor relations workflows”. Factset will eventually in my opinion reach out to Insurance Risk Management a lot more in the future as that’s a huge industry which has yet to see much automation of risk management yet, and with the field wide open, Factset will be the first to take advantage without a shadow of a doubt. So let’s dig into the company’s financials now: Their latest 8k filing reported the following: Revenue increased 2.6%, or $9.6 million, to $374.1 million compared with $364.5 million for the same period in fiscal 2019. The increase is primarily due to higher sales of analytics, content and technology solutions (CTS) and wealth management solutions. Annual Subscription Value (ASV) plus professional services was $1.52 billion at May 31, 2020, compared with $1.45 billion at May 31, 2019. The organic growth rate, which excludes the effects of acquisitions, dispositions, and foreign currency movements, was 5.0%. The primary contributors to this growth rate were higher sales in FactSet's wealth and research workflow solutions and a price increase in the Company's international region Adjusted operating margin improved to 35.5% compared with 34.0% in the prior year period primarily as a result of reduced employee-related operating expenses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased 11.0% to $2.63 compared with $2.37 for the same period in fiscal 2019. Adjusted diluted EPS rose 9.2% to $2.86 compared with $2.62 in the prior year period primarily driven by an improvement in operating results. The Company’s effective tax rate for the third quarter decreased to 15.0% compared with 18.6% a year ago, primarily due to an income tax expense in the prior year related to finalizing the Company's tax returns with no similar event for the three months ended May 31, 2020. FactSet increased its quarterly dividend by $0.05 per share or 7% to $0.77 marking the fifteenth consecutive year the Company has increased dividends, highlighting its continued commitment to returning value to shareholders. As you can see, there’s not much of a negative sign in sight here. It makes sense considering how FactSet’s FCF has never slowed down FactSet’s annual subscriptions and professional services have made its way to foreign and developing markets, and many of them are opting for FactSet’s cheaper services to reduce costs and still get copious amounts of data and models to work with. Here’s what FactSet had to say regarding its competitive position within the market of providing financial data in its last 10k: “Despite competing products and services, we enjoy high barriers to entry and believe it would be difficult for another vendor to quickly replicate the extensive databases we currently offer. Through our in-depth analytics and client service, we believe we can offer clients a more comprehensive solution with one of the broadest sets of functionalities, through a desktop or mobile user interface or through a standardized or bespoke data feed.” And FactSet is confident that their ML services cannot be replaced by anybody else in the industry either: “In addition, our applications, including our client support and service offerings, are entrenched in the workflow of many financial professionals given the downloading functions and portfolio analysis/screening capabilities offered. We are entrusted with significant amounts of our clients' own proprietary data, including portfolio holdings. As a result, our products have become central to our clients’ investment analysis and decision-making.” (https://last10k.com/sec-filings/fds#link_fullReport), if you read the full report and compare it to the most recent 8K, you’ll find that the real expenses this quarter were far lower than expected by the last 10k as there was a lower than expected tax rate and a 3% increase in expected operating margin from the expected figure as well. The company also reports a 90% customer retention rate over 15 years, so you know that they’re not lying when they say the clients need them for all sorts of financial data whether it’s for M&A or wealth management and Equity analysis: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/factset.asp FactSet also has remarkably good cash conversion considering it’s a subscription based company, a company structure which usually takes on too much leverage. Speaking of leverage, FDS had taken on a lot of leverage in 2015: So what’s that about? Why were FactSet’s long term debts at 0 and all of a sudden why’d the spike up? Well usually for a company that’s non-cyclical and has a well-established product (like FactSet) leverage can actually be good at amplifying returns, so FDS used this to their advantage and this was able to help the share’s price during 2015. Also, as you can see debt/ebitda is beginning a rapid decline anyway. This only adds to my theory that FactSet is trying to expand into new playing fields. FactSet obviously didn’t need the leverage to cover their normal costs, because they have always had consistently growing margins and revenue so the debt financing was only for the sake of financing growth. And this debt can be considered covered and paid off, considering the net income growth of 32% between 2018 and 2019 alone and the EPS growth of 33% EBITDA has virtually been exponential for FactSet for a while because of the bang-for-buck for their well-known product, but now as FactSet ventures into algorithmic trading and corporate development the scope for growth is broadly expanded. P/E has declined in the past 2 years, making it a great time to buy. Increasing ROE despite lowering of leverage post 2016 Mountains of cash have been piling up in the coffers increasing chances of increased dividends for shareholders (imo dividend is too low right now, but increasing it will tempt more investors into it), and on top of that in the last 10k a large buyback expansion program was implemented for $210m worth of shares, which shows how confident they are in the company itself. SGA expense/Gross profit has been declining despite expansion of offices I’m a bit concerned about the skin in the game leadership has in this company, since very few executives/board members have significant holdings in the company, but the CEO himself is a FactSet veteran, and knows his way around the company. On top of that, Bloomberg remains king for trading and the fixed income security market, and Reuters beats out FactSet here as well. If FactSet really wants to increase cash flow sources, the expansion into insurance and corp dev has to be successful. Summary: FactSet has a lot of growth still left in its industry which is already fast-growing in and of itself, and it only has more potential at its current valuation. Earnings September 24th should be a massive beat due to investment banking demand and growth plus Hedge fund requirements for data and portfolio management hasn’t gone anywhere and has likely increased due to more market opportunities to buy-in.
The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market
Author: Christian Hsieh, CEO of Tokenomy This paper examines some explanations for the continual global market demand for the U.S. dollar, the rise of stablecoins, and the utility and opportunities that crypto dollars can offer to both the cryptocurrency and traditional markets. The U.S. dollar, dominant in world trade since the establishment of the 1944 Bretton Woods System, is unequivocally the world’s most demanded reserve currency. Today, more than 61% of foreign bank reserves and nearly 40% of the entire world’s debt is denominated in U.S. dollars1. However, there is a massive supply and demand imbalance in the U.S. dollar market. On the supply side, central banks throughout the world have implemented more than a decade-long accommodative monetary policy since the 2008 global financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the need for central banks to provide necessary liquidity and keep staggering economies moving. While the Federal Reserve leads the effort of “money printing” and stimulus programs, the current money supply still cannot meet the constant high demand for the U.S. dollar2. Let us review some of the reasons for this constant dollar demand from a few economic fundamentals.
Demand for U.S. Dollars
Firstly, most of the world’s trade is denominated in U.S. dollars. Chief Economist of the IMF, Gita Gopinath, has compiled data reflecting that the U.S. dollar’s share of invoicing was 4.7 times larger than America’s share of the value of imports, and 3.1 times its share of world exports3. The U.S. dollar is the dominant “invoicing currency” in most developing countries4. https://preview.redd.it/d4xalwdyz8p51.png?width=535&format=png&auto=webp&s=9f0556c6aa6b29016c9b135f3279e8337dfee2a6 https://preview.redd.it/wucg40kzz8p51.png?width=653&format=png&auto=webp&s=71257fec29b43e0fc0df1bf04363717e3b52478f This U.S. dollar preference also directly impacts the world’s debt. According to the Bank of International Settlements, there is over $67 trillion in U.S. dollar denominated debt globally, and borrowing outside of the U.S. accounted for $12.5 trillion in Q1 20205. There is an immense demand for U.S. dollars every year just to service these dollar debts. The annual U.S. dollar buying demand is easily over $1 trillion assuming the borrowing cost is at 1.5% (1 year LIBOR + 1%) per year, a conservative estimate. https://preview.redd.it/6956j6f109p51.png?width=487&format=png&auto=webp&s=ccea257a4e9524c11df25737cac961308b542b69 Secondly, since the U.S. has a much stronger economy compared to its global peers, a higher return on investments draws U.S. dollar demand from everywhere in the world, to invest in companies both in the public and private markets. The U.S. hosts the largest stock markets in the world with more than $33 trillion in public market capitalization (combined both NYSE and NASDAQ)6. For the private market, North America’s total share is well over 60% of the $6.5 trillion global assets under management across private equity, real assets, and private debt investments7. The demand for higher quality investments extends to the fixed income market as well. As countries like Japan and Switzerland currently have negative-yielding interest rates8, fixed income investors’ quest for yield in the developed economies leads them back to the U.S. debt market. As of July 2020, there are $15 trillion worth of negative-yielding debt securities globally (see chart). In comparison, the positive, low-yielding U.S. debt remains a sound fixed income strategy for conservative investors in uncertain market conditions. Source: Bloomberg Last, but not least, there are many developing economies experiencing failing monetary policies, where hyperinflation has become a real national disaster. A classic example is Venezuela, where the currency Bolivar became practically worthless as the inflation rate skyrocketed to 10,000,000% in 20199. The recent Beirut port explosion in Lebanon caused a sudden economic meltdown and compounded its already troubled financial market, where inflation has soared to over 112% year on year10. For citizens living in unstable regions such as these, the only reliable store of value is the U.S. dollar. According to the Chainalysis 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, Venezuela has become one of the most active cryptocurrency trading countries11. The demand for cryptocurrency surges as a flight to safety mentality drives Venezuelans to acquire U.S. dollars to preserve savings that they might otherwise lose. The growth for cryptocurrency activities in those regions is fueled by these desperate citizens using cryptocurrencies as rails to access the U.S. dollar, on top of acquiring actual Bitcoin or other underlying crypto assets.
The Rise of Crypto Dollars
Due to the highly volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, USD stablecoin, a crypto-powered blockchain token that pegs its value to the U.S. dollar, was introduced to provide stable dollar exposure in the crypto trading sphere. Tether is the first of its kind. Issued in 2014 on the bitcoin blockchain (Omni layer protocol), under the token symbol USDT, it attempts to provide crypto traders with a stable settlement currency while they trade in and out of various crypto assets. The reason behind the stablecoin creation was to address the inefficient and burdensome aspects of having to move fiat U.S. dollars between the legacy banking system and crypto exchanges. Because one USDT is theoretically backed by one U.S. dollar, traders can use USDT to trade and settle to fiat dollars. It was not until 2017 that the majority of traders seemed to realize Tether’s intended utility and started using it widely. As of April 2019, USDT trading volume started exceeding the trading volume of bitcoina12, and it now dominates the crypto trading sphere with over $50 billion average daily trading volume13. https://preview.redd.it/3vq7v1jg09p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=46f11b5f5245a8c335ccc60432873e9bad2eb1e1 An interesting aspect of USDT is that although the claimed 1:1 backing with U.S. dollar collateral is in question, and the Tether company is in reality running fractional reserves through a loose offshore corporate structure, Tether’s trading volume and adoption continues to grow rapidly14. Perhaps in comparison to fiat U.S. dollars, which is not really backed by anything, Tether still has cash equivalents in reserves and crypto traders favor its liquidity and convenience over its lack of legitimacy. For those who are concerned about Tether’s solvency, they can now purchase credit default swaps for downside protection15. On the other hand, USDC, the more compliant contender, takes a distant second spot with total coin circulation of $1.8 billion, versus USDT at $14.5 billion (at the time of publication). It is still too early to tell who is the ultimate leader in the stablecoin arena, as more and more stablecoins are launching to offer various functions and supporting mechanisms. There are three main categories of stablecoin: fiat-backed, crypto-collateralized, and non-collateralized algorithm based stablecoins. Most of these are still at an experimental phase, and readers can learn more about them here. With the continuous innovation of stablecoin development, the utility stablecoins provide in the overall crypto market will become more apparent.
In addition to trade settlement, stablecoins can be applied in many other areas. Cross-border payments and remittances is an inefficient market that desperately needs innovation. In 2020, the average cost of sending money across the world is around 7%16, and it takes days to settle. The World Bank aims to reduce remittance fees to 3% by 2030. With the implementation of blockchain technology, this cost could be further reduced close to zero. J.P. Morgan, the largest bank in the U.S., has created an Interbank Information Network (IIN) with 416 global Institutions to transform the speed of payment flows through its own JPM Coin, another type of crypto dollar17. Although people argue that JPM Coin is not considered a cryptocurrency as it cannot trade openly on a public blockchain, it is by far the largest scale experiment with all the institutional participants trading within the “permissioned” blockchain. It might be more accurate to refer to it as the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) instead of “blockchain” in this context. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that as J.P. Morgan currently moves $6 trillion U.S. dollars per day18, the scale of this experiment would create a considerable impact in the international payment and remittance market if it were successful. Potentially the day will come when regulated crypto exchanges become participants of IIN, and the link between public and private crypto assets can be instantly connected, unlocking greater possibilities in blockchain applications. Many central banks are also in talks about developing their own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Although this idea was not new, the discussion was brought to the forefront due to Facebook’s aggressive Libra project announcement in June 2019 and the public attention that followed. As of July 2020, at least 36 central banks have published some sort of CBDC framework. While each nation has a slightly different motivation behind its currency digitization initiative, ranging from payment safety, transaction efficiency, easy monetary implementation, or financial inclusion, these central banks are committed to deploying a new digital payment infrastructure. When it comes to the technical architectures, research from BIS indicates that most of the current proofs-of-concept tend to be based upon distributed ledger technology (permissioned blockchain)19. https://preview.redd.it/lgb1f2rw19p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=040bb0deed0499df6bf08a072fd7c4a442a826a0 These institutional experiments are laying an essential foundation for an improved global payment infrastructure, where instant and frictionless cross-border settlements can take place with minimal costs. Of course, the interoperability of private DLT tokens and public blockchain stablecoins has yet to be explored, but the innovation with both public and private blockchain efforts could eventually merge. This was highlighted recently by the Governor of the Bank of England who stated that “stablecoins and CBDC could sit alongside each other20”. One thing for certain is that crypto dollars (or other fiat-linked digital currencies) are going to play a significant role in our future economy.
There is never a dull moment in the crypto sector. The industry narratives constantly shift as innovation continues to evolve. Twelve years since its inception, Bitcoin has evolved from an abstract subject to a familiar concept. Its role as a secured, scarce, decentralized digital store of value has continued to gain acceptance, and it is well on its way to becoming an investable asset class as a portfolio hedge against asset price inflation and fiat currency depreciation.Stablecoins have proven to be useful as proxy dollars in the crypto world, similar to how dollars are essential in the traditional world. It is only a matter of time before stablecoins or private digital tokens dominate the cross-border payments and global remittances industry. There are no shortages of hypes and experiments that draw new participants into the crypto space, such as smart contracts, new blockchains, ICOs, tokenization of things, or the most recent trends on DeFi tokens. These projects highlight the possibilities for a much more robust digital future, but the market also needs time to test and adopt. A reliable digital payment infrastructure must be built first in order to allow these experiments to flourish. In this paper we examined the historical background and economic reasons for the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the world, and the probable conclusion is that the demand for U.S. dollars will likely continue, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, accompanied by a worldwide economic slowdown. The current monetary system is far from perfect, but there are no better alternatives for replacement at least in the near term. Incremental improvements are being made in both the public and private sectors, and stablecoins have a definite role to play in both the traditional and the new crypto world. Thank you. Reference:  How the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, Investopedia  The dollar is in high demand, prone to dangerous appreciation, The Economist  Dollar dominance in trade and finance, Gita Gopinath  Global trades dependence on dollars, The Economist & IMF working papers  Total credit to non-bank borrowers by currency of denomination, BIS  Biggest stock exchanges in the world, Business Insider  McKinsey Global Private Market Review 2020, McKinsey & Company  Central banks current interest rates, Global Rates  Venezuela hyperinflation hits 10 million percent, CNBC  Lebanon inflation crisis, Reuters  Venezuela cryptocurrency market, Chainalysis  The most used cryptocurrency isn’t Bitcoin, Bloomberg  Trading volume of all crypto assets, coinmarketcap.com  Tether US dollar peg is no longer credible, Forbes  New crypto derivatives let you bet on (or against) Tether’s solvency, Coindesk  Remittance Price Worldwide, The World Bank  Interbank Information Network, J.P. Morgan  Jamie Dimon interview, CBS News  Rise of the central bank digital currency, BIS  Speech by Andrew Bailey, 3 September 2020, Bank of England
I wanted to write a quick post in answer to the people who routinely make claims I have a history of stealing from people in my previous company and base this upon a blog they read. If you would like to discuss this further, please make a post and link it to me to engage on. I will do so as long as we deal with the facts of how a PAMM company really works. I won't engage in circular debates where the essential point is, "I don't believe you". You don't have to - that's not how any of this works. Just fact check.
I want to avoid Google ranking on this post. Although for my personal 'PR' it would be beneficial to aim to rank something answering claims, at some points in this some others involved in the company will not really come over in the best light. I assume it's likely these people are still involved things (Not spoke with them for 5 yrs) - It'd be unfair to rank bad PR on them. The failure of the company was squarely due to me. Anything anyone else did either would not have happened or not have mattered if I'd done better. I do not want anything I do now to further hinder anyone. So I will refer to names by only one letter (or number if applicable).
I found it strange at the time this ended up centred around the ponzi scheme side of things. There was a reasonable question to be asked and answered as to if it was a pyramid scheme. Were people signing up just to sign people up, or was there a core product of fair market value. The services sold I'd previously ran at the same sort of price point direct to market - so I felt on fairly good ground on that. Initially I's actually been a bit excited initially, because I was a reader of the blog in question and I liked the work they'd done on pyramid schemes. I thought I'd be able to either validate I was doing things right, or learn how I should be doing them better. I never thought the ponzi side of it would take any more than a few minutes to clear up. But that was not so ... A ponzi scheme was to all intents and purposes impossible. All of our business was done via three different brokers and all of our results publicly tracked with close to real time updates for marketing purposes. Of the three brokers we were using, two of them had good regulation. An off-shore broker had to be used for US clients, so this is the only one with any sort of question mark. All of our results over all the brokers were almost identical (Some execution/costs variance). The two regulated brokers were under different regulators. Most, if not all, the brokers held clients funds in segregated accounts. All brokers would have to have been fully complicit in the scam - and it costs more to get regulated than there was to steal. Logically, it could not have been so. We were using a PAMM model. This works by the client opening a brokerage account and signing a LPoA to allow trades to be copied onto their account. The LPoA grants the company no access to the funds. Money laundering laws also dictate the funds can only be redeemed to same source they were funded. PAMMs are big business. Protection of all parties is built into it, it's a well trusted model. This should have taken no less than 5 minutes to self verify. It could not have been a ponzi.
That happened. Turns out if you set up a PAMM in the Netherlands and then let a bunch of people refer investment to it this is classed as running a ... I can't remember exactly and even at the time it was in Dutch so I didn't personally read it all. The underlying problem was not the model in any way. We were told at the time we basically jut had to pay £2,000 for each country we did business in. We were global. At this time the company had neither the money to do that, or pay the fine they gave us for not having the money to do that. My mistaken assumption was that since when you run a PAMM you are basically piggybacking off the broker's licence, all was well and good. This was true - but the problem was sourcing. Paying people to refer investment was what we were fined for when you get right down to it.
This was just a headline. In many ways it's misleading. Firstly, nothing was stolen or even taken. It was lost or given away to clients who'd lost in the PAMMs that went bad. All the money lost was lost trying to get enough money to make good all the PAMMs. So it was not stolen, and there is nothing in anyway to imply that's a suitable word to use. In the blog, no explanation of that is offered. What seems to be inferred is that this was commissions due out to clients that the company kept. Even outside the above mentioned this would be wrong. All affiliates were paid. You will not find a single one who says they were not. Further to that, of all the funds invested into the company (We'll call the company '5') somewhere in the 60 - 70% range was sourced directly by me. Other funds were sourced by my co-founder. Investments were made through passive advertising without them being attributed to a refer. All in all, assuming we did not pay the affiliates and we had this much, $18,000 would be the number. Of the $180,000 somewhere a bit over $100,000 would have been mine. I never took that, and could not have "Stolen" it. I don't see the point in getting super technical on everything by going through how, but the number also probably wasn't $180,000. I think this was an overestimate made in a throw away comment by my co-founder (We'll call her 'M') who was (Justifiably) extremely angry at me at the time she came up with the number and added it in a post (Of this multi paragraph post, this one line and one number was taken - if memory servers, all context was left out when the blogger cited this as stolen. Which would make sense. The post was berating me for losing the money. That didn't fit the narrative.
What Backs the Story?
Of all of the claims of wrongdoing (Apart from the fine, which is documented and true) - there is no evidence proposed for any of the claims made. All of it hinges on a story told to the blogger by one person, who was another of my co-founders 'We'll call her 'E'. E was either a late teenager or very early 20s at the time. In the founding of 5, E was essential. Before 5 I'd been running a service selling trading signals and selling them at $5 a week subscription. I was generating a lot of business (Working all day, every day and having fun with it. Like I did here for a while, but at that time I really was marketing). 5 - 10 people a day could be signing up. I knew nothing at all about how to structure an online business. No listing of new clients to send emails. Nothing about making membership sites with password access etc. I was working off a Wix site I made myself with no on-boarding system in place. The volume of people joining was crushing me. I could not process them and was getting a lot of PayPal disputes. I wanted to send them the stuff. Just did not have the process to ensure this was being done. E stepped in and saved me on that. She made original 5 website (On Wordpress, I believe it was later upgraded to something else). Set up memberships payments. Automated listing. Also she suggested changing the name to what the company became. E made the work I was doing work. After that, she had varying performance. Her gripe in the blog is she was not paid for helping to found the company. Left out of this is the fact she was not paid because she was head of marketing and we were not getting enough clients. Almost all of them coming from me hitting the DMs and signing people up the old fashioned way. On results of trading, everything was going well (and this was my area). Things were going so well people legit through it must be a ponzi! But we did not have in-flow of clients. On this I again blame myself. I sort of assumed this would all work itself out and did not put focus on fixing problems before they became problems. There was a lot of pressure on everyone. E got into a new romantic relationship. I think she was heavily influenced by this person (I found E to be good hearted on the whole). E and M started to get along less and less. Then E and M seemed to hate each other. It all seemed to come from nowhere, but it quickly got to the point me and M felt it was not working with E, and she thought the same. Pretty much everything is based upon the story told to the blogger by E. As I've said before I found her to be a good heart overall and believe she was influenced into doing what she did, and would not have done it on her own gumption. Therefore I won't rip into her; but if you're reading, 'E' (Won't be lol) - that was a bit naughty, wasn't it? Little 'Economic with the truth'.
Why would the blogger post such big claims with no evidence?
People should ask themselves this on the first read through of the blog, to be fair. If you're a single source reporting on a story - tell how you know it's true. I think this mainly came down to revenge. After the ponzi thing I wrote blog line by line ripping the initial blog to bits. It was written in a very cheeky sort of tone, and what I was saying was right. He then played, "My blog's bigger than your blog" , on which he was right. If you think there is some smoking gun here in any way, just email the blogger and ask them how they know. What evidence were they ever given any money was stolen. There was none.
Money taken from the company:
In it's sad and drawn out end, cash on hand and assets within the company got down to around $10,000 and we were due out over 10* this to clients who I wanted to pay back. I was not bringing in new business (It seemed unethical to do until I fixed old problems - this was a miscalculation. No business was the big problem) and there was the 50K fine. The company was essentially bankrupt. I wanted to use the remaining 10K to have one last ditch effort to re-coup losses, or randomly select clients to pay the 10K to. M didn't. At this time we fell out (Forever). I have no idea what happened to that 10K. I think M probably kept it. At the time I was livid about that - but to be honest, after all the work she did she deserved something. Losing was not her fault. To 'M' if you're reading (Won't be), I'm sorry.
What went wrong?
I was not good enough. When I got ahead I thought I was coasting. I came from a background of having nothing and as soon as I started to make a few grand I assumed I was gliding to being a millionaire. I stopped learning. Stopped improving. I never watered what I planted, and it withered and died. I fail. Turns out you can not coast up a learning curve without ending up on your arse.
So here it is, three more days and October begins, which marks one year of trading for me. I figured I would contribute to the forum and share some of my experience, a little about me, and what I've learned so far. Whoever wants to listen, that's great. This might get long so buckle up.. Three years ago, I was visiting Toronto. I don't get out much, but my roommate at the time travels there occasionally. He asked everyone at our place if we wanted to come along for a weekend. My roommate has an uncle that lives there and we didn't have to worry about a hotel because his uncle owns a small house that's unlived in which we could stay at. I was the only one to go with. Anyways, we walk around the city, seeing the sights and whatnot. My friend says to me "where next?" "I don't know, you're the tour guide" "We can go check out Bay Street" "what's 'Bay Street?'" "It's like the Canadian Wall street! If you haven't seen it you gotta see it!" Walking along Bay, I admire all the nice buildings and architecture, everything seems larger than life to me. I love things like that. The huge granite facades with intricate designs and towering pillars to make you think, How the fuck did they make that? My attention pivots to a man walking on the sidewalk opposite us. His gait stood out among everyone, he walked with such a purpose.. He laughed into the cell phone to his ear. In the elbow-shoving city environment, he moved with a stride that exuded a power which not only commanded respect, but assumed it. I bet HE can get a text back, hell he's probably got girls waiting on him. This dude was dressed to kill, a navy suit that you could just tell from across the street was way out of my budget, it was a nice fucking suit. I want that. His life, across the street, seemed a world a way from my own. I've worn a suit maybe twice in my life. For my first communion, it was too big for me, I was eleven or whatever so who gives a shit, right? I'm positive I looked ridiculous. The other time? I can't remember. I want that. I want the suit. I want the wealth, the independence.I want the respect and power, and I don't give a shit what anyone thinks about it. Cue self doubt. Well, He's probably some rich banker's son. That's a world you're born into. I don't know shit about it. \sigh* keep walking..* A year later, I'm visiting my parents at their house, they live an hour away from my place. My dad is back from Tennessee, his engineering job was laying people off and he got canned... Or he saw the end was near and just left... I don't know, hard to pay attention to the guy honestly because he kind of just drones on and on. ("Wait, so your mom lives in Michigan, but your dad moved to Tennessee... for a job?" Yea man, I don't fucking know, not going to touch on that one.) The whole project was a shit show that was doomed to never get done, the way he tells it. And he's obviously jaded from multiple similar experiences at other life-sucking engineer jobs. My mom is a retired nurse practitioner who no longer works because of her illness. I ask him what he's doing for work now and he tells me he trades stocks from home. I didn't even know you could do that. I didn't know "trading" was a thing. I thought you just invest and hope for the best. "Oh that's cool, how much money do you need to do that?" "Ehh, most say you need at least $25,000 as a minimum" "Oh... guess I can't do that..." Six months later, I get a call and it's my dad. We talk a little about whatever. Off topic, he starts asking if I'm happy doing what I'm doing (I was a painter, commercial and residential) I tell him yes but it's kind of a pain in the ass and I don't see it as a long term thing. Then he gets around to asking if I'd like to come work with him. He basically pitches it to me. I'm not one to be sold on something, I'm always skeptical. So I ask all the questions that any rational person would ask and he just swats them away with reassuring phrases. He was real confident about it. But basically he says for this to work, I have to quit my job and move back home so he can teach me how to trade and be by my side so I don't do anything stupid. "My Name, you can make so much money." I say that I can't raise the $25,000 because I'm not far above just living paycheck to paycheck. "I can help you out with that." Wow, okay, well... let me think about it. My "maybe" very soon turned into a "definitely." So over the next six months, I continue to work my day job painting, and I try to save up what I could for the transition (it wasn't a whole lot, I sucked at saving. I was great at spending though!). My dad gives me a book on day trading (which I will mention later) and I teach myself what I can about the stock market using Investopedia. Also in the meantime, my dad sends me encouraging emails. He tells me to think of an annual income I would like to make as a trader, and used "more than $100,000 but less than a million" as a guideline. He tells me about stocks that he traded that day or just ones that moved and describes the basic price action and the prices to buy and sell at. Basically saying "if you bought X amount of shares here and sold it at X price here, you could make a quick 500 bucks!" I then use a trading sim to trade those symbols and try to emulate what he says. Piece of cake. ;) Wow, that's way more than what I make in a day. He tells me not to tell anyone about my trading because most people just think it's gambling. "Don't tell your Mom either." He says most people who try this fail because they don't know how to stop out and take a loss. He talks about how every day he was in a popular chatroom, some noob would say something like, "Hey guys, I bought at X price (high of day or thereabout), my account is down 80% .. uhh I'm waiting for it to come back to my entry price.. what do I do??" Well shit, I'm not that fucking dumb. If that's all it takes to make it is to buy low, sell high, and always respect a stop then I'll be fantastic. By the end of September, I was very determined. I had been looking forward everyday to quitting my painting job because while it used to be something I loved, it was just sucking the life out of me at this point. Especially working commercial, you just get worked like a dog. I wasn't living up to my potential with that job and I felt awful for it every minute of every day. I knew that I needed a job where I could use my brain instead of slaving my body to fulfill someone else's dream. "Someone's gotta put gas in the boss's boat" That's a line my buddy once said that he probably doesn't know sticks with me to this day. It ain't me. So now it was October 2018, and I'm back living with Mom n' Pops. I was so determined that on my last day of work I gave away all of my painting tools to my buddy like, "here, I don't need this shit." Moving out of my rental was easy because I don't own much, 'can't take it with ya.' Excited for the future I now spend my days bundled up in winter wear in the cold air of our hoarder-like basement with a space heater at my feet. My laptop connected to a TV monitor, I'm looking at stocks next to my dad and his screens in his cluttered corner. Our Trading Dungeon. I don't trade any money, (I wasn't aware of any real-time sim programs) I just watch and learn from my dad. Now you've got to keep in mind, and look at a chart of the S&P, this is right at the beginning of Oct '18, I came in right at the market top. Right at the start of the shit-show. For the next three or four weeks, I watch my dad pretty much scratch on every trade, taking small loss after small loss, and cursing under his breath at the screen. Click. "dammit." Click. "shit." Click. Click. "you fuck." Click. This gets really fucking annoying as time goes on, for weeks, and I get this attitude like ugh, just let me do it. I'll make us some fucking money. So I convince him to let me start trading live. I didn't know anything about brokers so I set up an account using his broker, which was Fidelity. It was a pain and I had to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to day trade with this broker. I actually had to make a joint account with my dad as I couldn't get approved for margin because my credit score is shit (never owned a credit card) and my net worth, not much. Anyways, they straight up discourage day trading and I get all kinds of warning messages with big red letters that made me shit myself like oooaaahhh what the fuck did I do now. Did I forget to close a position?? Did I fat finger an order? Am I now in debt for thousands of dollars to Fidelity?? They're going to come after me like they came after Madoff. Even after you are approved for PDT you still get these warning messages in your account. Some would say if I didn't comply with "whatever rule" they'd even suspend my account for 60 days. It was ridiculous, hard to describe because it doesn't make sense, and it took the support guy on the phone a good 20 minutes to explain it to me. Basically I got the answer "yea it's all good, you did nothing wrong. As long as you have the cash in your account to cover whatever the trade balance was" So I just kept getting these warnings that I had to ignore everyday. I hate Fidelity. My fist day trading, I made a few so-so trades and then I got impatient. I saw YECO breaking out and I chased, soon realized I chased, so I got out. -$500. Shit, I have to make that back, I don't want my dad to see this. Got back in. Shit. -$400. So my first day trading, I lost $900. My dumbass was using market orders so that sure didn't help. I reeled the risk back and traded more proper position size for a while, but the commissions for a round trip are $10, so taking six trades per day, I'm losing $60 at a minimum on top of my losing trades. Quickly I realized I didn't know what the hell I was doing. What about my dad? Does HE know? One day, in the trading dungeon, I was frustrated with the experience I'd been having and just feeling lost overall. I asked him. "So, are you consistently profitable?" "mmm... I do alright." "Yea but like, are you consistently profitable over time?" ......................... "I do alright." Silence. "Do you know any consistently profitable traders?" "Well the one who wrote that book I gave you, Tina Turner.. umm and there's Ross Cameron" ...................... "So you don't know any consistently profitable traders, personally.. People who are not trying to sell you something?" "no." ................... Holy fucking shit, what did this idiot get me into. He can't even say it to my face and admit it. This entire life decision, quitting my job, leaving my rental, moving from my city to back home, giving shit away, it all relied on that. I was supposed to be an apprentice to a consistently profitable day trader who trades for a living. It was so assumed, that I never even thought to ask! Why would you tell your son to quit his job for something that you yourself cannot do? Is this all a scam? Did my dad get sold a DREAM? Did I buy into some kind of ponzi scheme? How many of those winning trades he showed me did he actually take?Are there ANY consistently profitable DAY TRADERS who TRADE FOR A LIVING?Why do 90% fail? Is it because the other 10% are scamming the rest in some way? Completely lost, I just had no clue what was what. If I was going to succeed at this, if it was even possible to succeed at this, it was entirely up to me. I had to figure it out. I still remember the feeling like an overwhelming, crushing weight on me as it all sunk in. This is going to be a big deal.. I'm not the type to give up though. In that moment, I said to myself, I'm going to fucking win at this. I don't know if this is possible, but I'm going to find out. I cannot say with certainty that I will succeed, but no matter what, I will not give up. I'm going to give all of myself to this. I will find the truth. It was a deep moment for me. I don't like getting on my soapbox, but when I said those things, I meant it. I really, really meant it. I still do, and I still will. Now it might seem like I'm being hard on my dad. He has done a lot for me and I am very grateful for that. We're sarcastic as hell to each other, I love the bastard. Hell, I wouldn't have the opportunity to trade at all if not for him. But maybe you can also understand how overwhelmed I felt at that time. Not on purpose, of course he means well. But I am not a trusting person at all and I was willing to put trust into him after all the convincing and was very disappointed when I witnessed the reality of the situation. I would have structured this transition to trading differently, you don't just quit your job and start trading. Nobody was there to tell me that! I was told quite the opposite. I'm glad it happened anyway, so fuck it. I heard Kevin O'Leary once say, "If I knew in the beginning how difficult starting a business was, I don't know that I ever would've started." This applies very much to my experience. So what did I do? Well like everyone I read and read and Googled and Youtube'd my ass off. I sure as hell didn't pay for a course because I didn't have the money and I'm like 99% sure I would be disappointed by whatever they were teaching as pretty much everything can be found online or in books for cheap or free. Also I discovered Thinkorswim and I used that to sim trade in real-time for three months. This is way the hell different than going on a sim at 5x speed and just clicking a few buy and sell buttons. Lol, useless. When you sim trade in real-time you're forced to have a routine, and you're forced to experience missing trades with no chance to rewind or skip the boring parts. That's a step up because you're "in it". I also traded real money too, made some, lost more than I made. went back to sim. Traded live again, made some but lost more, fell back to PDT. Dad fronted me more cash. This has happened a few times. He's dug me out of some holes because he believes in me. I'm fortunate. Oh yeah, about that book my dad gave me. It's called A Beginner's Guide to Day Trading Online by Toni Turner. This book... is shit. This was supposed to be my framework for how to trade and I swear it's like literally nothing in this book fucking works lol. I could tell this pretty early on, intuitively, just by looking at charts. It's basically a buy-the-breakout type strategy, if you want to call it a strategy. No real methodology to anything just vague crap and showing you cherry-picked charts with entries that are way too late. With experience in the markets you will eventually come to find that MOST BREAKOUTS FAIL. It talks about support/resistance lines and describes them as, "picture throwing a ball down at the floor, it bounces up and then it bounces down off the ceiling, then back up." So many asinine assumptions. These ideas are a text book way of how to trade like dumb money. Don't get me wrong, these trades can work but you need to be able to identify the setups which are more probable and identify reasons not to take others. So I basically had to un-learn all that shit. Present day, I have a routine in place. I'm out of the dungeon and trade by myself in my room. I trade with a discount broker that is catered to day traders and doesn't rape me on commissions. My mornings have a framework for analyzing the news and economic events of the particular day, I journal so that I can recognize what I'm doing right and where I need to improve. I record my screens for later review to improve my tape reading skills. I am actually tracking my trades now and doing backtesting in equities as well as forex. I'm not a fast reader but I do read a lot, as much as I can. So far I have read about 17-18 books on trading and psychology. I've definitely got a lot more skilled at trading. As of yet I am not net profitable. Writing that sounds like selling myself short though, honestly. Because a lot of my trades are very good and are executed well. I have talent. However, lesser quality trades and trades which are inappropriately sized/ attempted too many times bring down that P/L. I'm not the type of trader to ignore a stop, I'm more the trader that just widdles their account down with small losses. I trade live because at this point, sim has lost its value, live trading is the ultimate teacher. So I do trade live but I just don't go big like I did before, I keep it small. I could show you trades that I did great on and make people think I'm killing it but I really just don't need the validation. I don't care, I'm real about it. I just want to get better. I don't need people to think I'm a genius, I'm just trying to make some money. Psychologically, to be honest with you, I currently feel beaten down and exhausted. I put a lot of energy into this, and sometimes I work myself physically sick, it's happened multiple times. About once a week, usually Saturday, I get a headache that lasts all day. My body's stress rebound mechanism you might call it. Getting over one of those sick periods now, which is why I barely even traded this week. I know I missed a lot of volatility this week and some A+ setups but I really just don't give a shit lol. I just currently don't have the mental capital, I think anyone who's been day trading every day for a year or more can understand what I mean by that. I'm still being productive though. Again, I'm not here to present an image of some badass trader, just keeping it real. To give something 100% day after day while receiving so much resistance, it takes a toll on you. So a break is necessary to avoid making bad trading decisions. That being said, I'm progressing more and more and eliminating those lesser quality trades and identifying my bad habits. I take steps to control those habits and strengthen my good habits such as having a solid routine, doing review and market research, taking profits at the right times, etc. So maybe I can give some advice to some that are new to day trading, those who are feeling lost, or just in general thinking "...What the fuck..." I thought that every night for the first 6 months lol. First of all, manage expectations. If you read my story of how I came to be a trader, you can see I had a false impression of trading in many aspects. Give yourself a realistic time horizon to how progress should be made. Do not set a monetary goal for yourself, or any time-based goal that is measured in your P/L. If you tell yourself, "I want to make X per day, X per week, or X per year" you're setting yourself up to feel like shit every single day when it's clear as the blue sky that you won't reach that goal anytime soon. As a matter of fact, it will appear you are moving further AWAY from that goal if you just focus on your P/L, which brings me to my next point. You will lose money. In the beginning, most likely, you will lose money. I did it, you'll do it, the greatest Paul Tudor Jones did it. Trading is a skill that needs to be developed, and it is a process. Just look at it as paying your tuition to the market. Sim is fine but don't assume you have acquired this skill until you are adept at trading real money. So when you do make that leap, just trade small. Just survive. Trade small. get the experience. Protect your capital. To reach break even on your bottom line is a huge accomplishment. In many ways, experience and screen time are the secret sauce. Have a routine. This is very important. I actually will probably make a more in-depth post in the future about this if people want it. When I first started, I was overwhelmed with the feeling "What the fuck am I supposed to DO?" I felt lost. There's no boss to tell you how to be productive or how to find the right stocks, which is mostly a blessing, but a curse for new traders. All that shit you see, don't believe all that bullshit. You know what I'm talking about. The bragposting, the clickbait Youtube videos, the ads preying on you. "I made X amount of money in a day and I'm fucking 19 lolz look at my Lamborghini" It's all a gimmick to sell you the dream. It's designed to poke right at your insecurities, that's marketing at it's finest. As for the bragposting on forums honestly, who cares. And I'm not pointing fingers on this forum, just any trading forum in general. They are never adding anything of value to the community in their posts. They never say this is how I did it. No, they just want you to think they're a genius. I can show you my $900 day trading the shit out of TSLA, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Gamblers never show you when they lose, you might never hear from those guys again because behind the scenes, they over-leveraged themselves and blew up. Some may actually be consistently profitable and the trades are 100% legit. That's fantastic. But again, I don't care, and you shouldn't either. You shouldn't compare yourself to others. "Everyone's a genius in a bull market" Here's the thing.. Markets change. Edges disappear. Trading strategies were made by traders who traded during times when everything they did worked. Buy all the breakouts? Sure! It's the fucking tech bubble! Everything works! I'm sure all those typical setups used to work fantastically at some point in time. But the more people realize them, the less effective they are. SOMEONE has to be losing money on the opposite side of a winning trade, and who's willing to do that when the trade is so obvious? That being said, some things are obvious AND still work. Technical analysis works... sometimes. The caveat to that is, filters. You need to, in some way, filter out certain setups from others. For example, you could say, "I won't take a wedge pattern setup on an intraday chart unless it is in a higher time frame uptrend, without nearby resistance, and trading above average volume with news on that day." Have a plan. If you can't describe your plan, you don't have one. Think in probabilities. You should think entirely in "if, then" scenarios. If X has happens, then Y will probably happen. "If BABA breaks this premarket support level on the open I will look for a pop up to short into." Backtest. Most traders lose mainly because they think they have an edge but they don't. You read these books and all this stuff online telling you "this is a high probability setup" but do you know that for a fact? There's different ways to backtest, but I think the best way for a beginner is manual backtesting with a chart and an excel sheet. This builds up that screen time and pattern recognition faster. This video shows how to do that. Once I saw someone do it, it didn't seem so boring and awful as I thought it was. Intelligence is not enough. You're smarter than most people, that's great, but that alone is not enough to make you money in trading necessarily. Brilliant people try and fail at this all the time, lawyers, doctors, surgeons, engineers.. Why do they fail if they're so smart? It's all a fucking scam. No, a number of reasons, but the biggest is discipline and emotional intelligence. Journal every day.K no thanks, bro. That's fucking gay. That's how I felt when I heard this advice but really that is pride and laziness talking. This is the process you need to do to learn what works for you and what doesn't. Review the trades you took, what your plan was, what actually happened, how you executed. Identify what you did well and what you can work on. This is how you develop discipline and emotional intelligence, by monitoring yourself. How you feel physically and mentally, and how these states affect your decision-making. Always be learning. Read as much as you can. Good quality books. Here's the best I've read so far; Market Wizards -Jack Schwager One Good Trade -Mike Bellafiore The Daily Trading Coach -Bret Steenbarger Psycho-cybernetics -Maxwell Maltz Why You Win or Lose -Fred Kelly The Art and Science of Technical Analysis -Adam Grimes Dark Pools -Scott Patterson Be nimble. Everyday I do my research on the symbols I'm trading and the fundamental news that's driving them. I might be trading a large cap that's gapping up with a beat on EPS and revenue and positive guidance. But if I see that stock pop up and fail miserably on the open amidst huge selling pressure, and I look and see the broader market tanking, guess what, I'm getting short, and that's just day trading. The movement of the market, on an intraday timeframe, doesn't have to make logical sense. Adapt. In March I used to be able to buy a breakout on a symbol and swing it for the majority of the day. In the summer I was basically scalping on the open and being done for the day. Volatility changes, and so do my profit targets. Be accountable. Be humble. Be honest. I take 100% responsibility for every dime I've lost or made in the market. It's not the market makers fault, it wasn't the HFTs, I pressed the button. I know my bad habits and I know my good habits.. my strengths/ my weaknesses. Protect yourself from toxicity. Stay away from traders and people on forums who just have that negative mindset. That "can't be done" mentality. Day trading is a scam!! It can certainly be done. Prove it, you bastard. I'm posting to this particular forum because I don't see much of that here and apparently the mods to a good job of not tolerating it. As the mod wrote in the rules, they're most likely raging from a loss. Also, the Stocktwits mentality of "AAPL is going to TANK on the open! $180, here we come. $$$" , or the grandiose stories, "I just knew AMZN was going to go up on earnings. I could feel it. I went ALL IN. Options money, baby! ka-ching!$" Lol, that is so toxic to a new trader. Get away from that. How will you be able to remain nimble when this is your thought process? Be good to yourself. Stop beating yourself up. You're an entrepreneur. You're boldly going where no man has gone before. You've got balls. Acknowledge your mistakes, don't identify with them. You are not your mistakes and you are not your bad habits. These are only things that you do, and you can take action necessary to do them less. It doesn't matter what people think. Maybe they think you're a fool, a gambler. You don't need their approval. You don't need to talk to your co-workers and friends about it to satisfy some subconscious plea for guidance; is this a good idea? You don't need anyone's permission to become the person you want to be. They don't believe in you? Fuck 'em. I believe in you.
Investopedia: Forex Trading the Martingale Way I know these strategies have been around for centuries, but here's a brief rundown on what I'm fleshing out for 2020. This isn't likely what most would call a "pyramid", but it was the easiest to code in python. It's a variation of DCA with a few modifications.
UPDATE: It's called "Martingale", thx for the tip u/w0lph
The basic concept is buy the dip and sell the spike, but with weighted bands positioned as a pyramids of limit orders. Once we decide how broad the buy/sell range will be (given 10% in this example), we will position our buys and sells to commit more and more the further into that band we dip. Basically creating a pyramid. Something like this
1st-Band at 2% below spot. Buy 0.001 BTC
2nd-Band at 4% below spot. Buy 0.002 BTC
3rd-Band at 6% below spot. Buy 0.003 BTC
4th-Band at 8% below spot. Buy 0.004 BTC
5th-Band at 10% below spot. Buy 0.005 BTC
Here's a more concrete example
Assume BTC/USD price is $7500
Assume a holdings of 0.050 BTC at a cost basis of $7600 (bear market)
Assume I am doing a weekly DCA of $100 to my portfolio
We will structure buys from 0% to 10% below current spot
We will structure sells from 0% to 10% above our current cost basis.
So given the the spot of $7500 and a $100 investment to distribute, our bands will be as follows:
1st-Band at $7350. Buy 0.001 BTC
2nd-Band at $7200. Buy 0.002 BTC
3rd-Band at $7050. Buy 0.003 BTC
4th-Band at $6900. Buy 0.004 BTC
5th-Band at $6750. Buy 0.004 BTC
1st-Band at $7676. Sell 0.001 BTC
2nd-Band at $7752. Sell 0.002 BTC
3rd-Band at $7828. Sell 0.003 BTC
4th-Band at $7904. Sell 0.004 BTC
5th-Band at $7980. Sell 0.005 BTC
6th-Band at $8056. Sell 0.005 BTC
7th-Band at $8132. Sell 0.006 BTC
8th-Band at $8208. Sell 0.007 BTC
9th-Band at $8284. Sell 0.008 BTC
10th-Band at $8360. Sell 0.009 BTC
So between $7350 and $7676, nothing happens for the week. If the price swings outside that HODL band, then I'll start buying if it drops or selling if it spikes. I have a bit of python to build the bands, but excel could do it as well. Once you determine how many bands you need, then you just redo them ever week. Here are the basic rules to do every week to set this up.
Every week re-evaluate your cost-basis for how much you have invested in BTC
Every week re-evaluate your Sell and Buy bands (I used 10% in the above example)
If you had any "Sells" trigger from the previous week, add that to your DCA investment
Build your "Sell" pyramid based on your current cost basis and current holdings
Build your "Buy" pyramid based on your DCA investment and the current spot price
If our current cost basis is below spot, set our "Sell" pyramid off the current spot price.
Clear all of last weeks limit orders
Add all of this weeks limit orders
Check back next week
I actually don't know what this is called, I just stole it from a friend of mine years ago, and I assume he got it from somewhere else as well. You may choose to take profits off the table, in this example I'm reinvesting. Let me know if you think there is some things I should add or other ways to improve the "game". Sorry it's so long. It was a shorter post in my head.
Most targets, except for USDJPY due to it's correlation to SPX/SPY and DJI, are bullish. I saw several small gap downs in futures which represent a strong opening for the USD. USDCAD is looking to tear. AUDUSD is potentially breaking a huge support line at .7800. You aren't getting 100% guidance because that doesn't exist in FX. It's anebvulous message. There is likely other factors too:
Fear that the market still needs to fill the gaps in it's shitty structure that was built during that insane Christmas/Post-Christmas bull charge
Fear of the new Fed Chair: who is he? What is he like? Another dove like Yellen, unpredictable like Bernanke?
Fear that the Fed may not have as much power as they say they do? So much wealth has been generated within private sector that it is becoming apparent that the Fed doesn't have as much leverage as it used to: private money is capable of dictating market courses sometimes now.
ECN. Used most by professional traders. Difficult platform for beginners
Minimum deposit $10000 (or $3,000 if under 25yo) * Well diversified -Oanda
Market maker. Second largest retail FX brokerage in the US. Easy platform for beginners.
No minimum deposit
Not well diversified, but well capitalized -Gain Capital (whitelabel forex.com) *Market Maker *Fair spreads *Minimum deposit $250 *Well diversified -FXCM Inc
ECN. Largest retail FX brokerage in the US
Minimum deposit $2000
Not well diversified. CAUTION: FXCM nearly went bankrupt in Jan-2015 due to a lack of diversification and low capitalisation. As a result FXCM LLC was bailed out with a large loan which may prove difficult to pay back. Be warned that their business may not be sustainable in the long term. -MBTrading
ECN. Mid-sized retail FX brokerage
Minimum deposit $400
International Only- -LMAX (whitelabel DarwinEx) *DMA broker based in the UK. Note that as a DMA broker LMAX eliminates the ability for LPs to last-look transactions. This may result in reduced liquidity during volatile times as liquidity providers would be likely not to risk posting liquidity to LMAX's pool. *Tight spreads *Minimum deposit $10,000 *Fairly well diversified -Dukascopy *ECN based in Switzerland, but available elsewhere depending on local regulations. *Tight spreads *Minimum deposit $100 *Fairly well diversified -IC Markets *ECN based in Australia *Fair spreads on standard account, tight spreads on professional accounts. *Minimum deposit $200 *Fairly well diversified -Pepperstone *ECN broker based in Australia. *Fair spreads on standard account, tight spreads on professional accounts. *Minimum deposit $200 *Not well diversified Software / Apps: Desktop/mobile
Apps are typically broker dependent. Some brokers have their own proprietary software, while others lease common software like Metatrader or NinjaTrader. Some software has a large development community for indicators and EAs.
Terminology/Acronyms: www.forexlive.com/ForexJargon - Common terms and acronyms FAQ: I need to exchange money, how do I do it? This isn’t what this sub is for. Your best bet is using your bank or an online exchange service. Be prepared to pay a hefty fee. I have money in one currency and need to exchange it into another sometime in the future, should I wait? Don’t ask us this. We speculate intraday in FX and shouldn’t be relied on to tell you what’s best for you. Exchange the money when you need it. I have an FX account, should I start trading demo or live? This is highly debatable. You should definitely demo trade until you have mastered how to use the trading platform on desktop and mobile. After that it’s up to you. Many think that the psychology of trading live vs demo trading is massively different. So it may pay to learn to trade live. Just be warned that most FX traders lose almost their entire first account so start with a low affordable balance. What’s money management? Money management is a form of risk management and is arguably the most important aspect of your trading when it comes to long term survival. You should always enter trades with a stop loss - the distance of the stop allows you to calculate how large of a percent of your account balance will be lost if your trade stops out. You can run a monte carlo simulation to figure out the risk of having a number of trades go against you in a row to drain your account. The general rule is that you should only risk losing 1-4% of your account per trade entered. More on this here: www.investopedia.com/articles/forex/06/fxmoneymgmt.asp www.swing-trade-stocks.com/money-management.html What about automated trading? Retail FX traders have been known to program “Expert Advisors” (EAs) to automate trading. It’s generally advisable to stay away from that until you’re very experienced. Never buy an EA from a developer because the vast majority of them are scams. What indicators are best? That’s up to you to test and find out. Many in this forum dislike oscillating indicators since they fail to capture the essence of what moves price. With experience you will discover what works best for you. In my experience indicators that are most popular with professional traders are those that provide trading “levels” such as pivot points, fibonacci, moving averages, trendlines, etc. What timeframe should I trade? Price action can vary in different timeframes. In longer term timeframes the price action and fundamentals are much more clear. Unfortunately it would take a very long time to figure out whether or not what you’re doing is successful on longer timeframes. In shorter timeframes you can often tell very quickly if what you’re doing is profitable. Unfortunately there’s a lot more “noise” on these levels which can prove deceptive for those trying to learn. Therefore the best bet is to use a multi-timeframe analysis, working from top-down to come up with trades. Should I trade using fundamental analysis (FA) of technical analysis (TA)? This is a long standing argument in these forums and elsewhere. I’ll settle it here - you should have an understanding of both. Yes there are traders who blindly ignore one of the other but a truly well rounded trader should understand and implement both into the analysis. The market is driven in the longer term through FA. But TA is necessary to give traders a place to enter and exit trades from a psychological risk/reward standpoint. I’ve heard trading Binary Options is an easy way to make money? The general advice is to stay away from binaries. The structure of binary options is so that when you lose the broker wins. This incentive has created a very scammy industry where there are few legitimate binary options brokers. In addition in order to be profitable in binaries you have to win 55-65% of the time. That’s a much higher premium over spot FX. Am I actually exchanging currencies? Yes and no. Your broker handles spot FX is currency pairs. Although they make an exchange at the settlement date they treat your position in your account as a virtual currency pair. Think of it like a contract where you can only buy or sell it as a pair. In this sense you are always long one currency while short another. You are merely speculating that one currency will appreciate or depreciate vs another. Why didn't my order fill? Even if price appears to cross over a line on your chart it does not guarantee a fill. Different charting platforms chart different prices - some chart the bid price, some the ask price and some the midpoint price. To fill a limit order price needs to cross your limit's price plus the spread at the time that it is crossing. If it does not equal or exceed the spread then it will not fill. Be wary that in general spreads are not fixed. So what may fill at one time may not at another.
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