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lucid thoughts

April 22, 2002 Monday

Online Trading

It has long been my dilemma what to make of myself as far as the future goes. Normally, people secure their future by climbing up the corporate ladder, reaping increased paycheck, nice perks, the prestige of being "boss", etc. Granting that you're into the "corporate thing", that's nice and dandy. What if you're not?

I love what I do as a web designer...doing code/graphics and getting instant gratification on the browser, not killing myself over the job, getting adequate time to hammer the trails, etc. A promotion (remotely assuming I'm even near that) means being team lead...which allows me to code but supervise team-members as well. Now, we're beginning to deal with people...and they come as a package - their nuances, quirks, agenda, politics, etc. Don't get me wrong. The team I'm working with kicks ass on the web...I'm just talking about people management in general. The higher up I go, the more I have to leave the browser and increasingly deal with people. Not really an ideal place or situation for me regardless of the perk. The logical conclusion is to either sell out or live the rest of my life as a web designer at the bottom rung of the ladder earning web designer wage (which, in these economic times, is like working for food). Given that, I can understand and appreciate why people sell out. It's really a dilemma.

Online trading changes all that.

Take a closer look at the convergence of these 2 factors:

  • The internet providing instant access to news as-it-happens
  • Cheap transaction cost (mostly $25 per transaction) to make a trade with an online bank or investment firm
Result? A new breed of self-styled online traders willing to white-knuckle a wild roller coaster ride with potential for huge gains and equally catastrophic losses.

When this dawned on me, it was light at the end of the tunnel. Now, here's a ticket that allows me to take a chance on the big league - without having to deal with people, without having to brown on a boss, without even attempting to climb up the corporate ladder. And just like knowing instantaneously that mountain biking is the ultimate thing for me the first time I hit the trails, I knew, online trading has my name on it. Of course I can lose everything...and there's a really high chance I will. But the tragedy here is not in losing but not having tried.

Statistics indicate that 90% of these daring souls take a hit...sometimes big enough to wipe them out while a consistent 10% out-play the rest of the market. It's a zero-sum game so the 10% feeds on the 90%. I was hoping I'd belong to the 10%.

Never to go into battle without proper ammunition, I read a couple of books, subscribed to CIBC Investor's Edge (an online discount broker), logged on several sites providing the latest news, charts, market indicators/oscillators, index performances...you get the idea. Not having experienced a loss, I felt impervious to it. Losses? That's something that happens to other people...not me. I've laid out the blueprint on how to get on Easy Street fast and quick.

Since I was now familiar with the rules of the game, I knew exactly what to break to get that "edge". Take note of the cardinal rules and what I did:

  • Don't trade on the money...trade to trade better - Nothing motivated me more than finally driving off the lot with a Lamborghini (seriously).
  • Beginners should trade on the kinder and gentler NYSE and not the temperamental Nasdaq - Not only did I trade exclusively on Nasdaq, but I only traded on its most volatile stock, Nortel
  • Never overtrade - I bet the ranch
  • Set your sell-stop and NEVER ignore it - I set my sell-stop but when I lost a winning trade when my sell-stop was hit, I completely removed the sell-stop making it a free-fall when the bottom lid is gone.
  • Don't trade on a stock selling below it's 200 moving average (MA) - Nortel was under it's 200, 100, and 50 MA!

All this happened when Nortel became "affordable" when it took a nose dive to $65 from a high of $128. Foolishly, I (together with maybe 95% of the Nortel investing public) concluded that now's the time to get in. It can't go lower than that...after all, it's Nortel - the darling stock of the TSE and Nasdaq.

You all know what happened to the internet bubble. To cut the long story short, as of this writing, Nortel was trading at $6.29. The closest analogy I can think of is stepping into a boxing ring totally oblivious who the opponent is. It turns out to be Mike Tyson. Ten seconds into the first round, I was already bent, twisted and bloodied.

Am I done with online trading? Absolutely NOT! The Lamborghini at Front and Bathurst (the dealership) has my name on it. Only the battle has been lost...the war is yet to be won.

--- TheLoneRider


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