What is Two Blokes Trading? Two Blokes Trading is a fun and informative podcast and website for new and experienced home financial traders. It follows us, Tom and Owen, as we learn to trade profitably and consistently. We interview leading traders and trading industry insiders every week on the Podcast to give our listeners the best chance of becoming profitable traders.
The Last Time I Write Another One of These Cringey Things (I hope...): Part 2892, The Worst Sequel and Wall of Text, ever
Hiya, folks...! It's another wall of text from some random person who could be doing just about anything else except for this... Who's ready for some paragraphs from some stranger? I know you'd rather be doing anything else, or maybe not haha.. But it does mean a lot if you do take the time to try to attempt to accurately type me... I will DEFINITELY NOT overthink it this time, and take your consideration FULLY to heart, and stop overthinking my MBTI type and live happily ever after! (Hahahahhaha...! ... ...) ... Ok, let's begin!
How old are you? What's your gender? Give us a general description of yourself.
I am a freshly 23 year old male that likes to do average Redditor bullcrap. Video games, memes, music, making my finger go up and down endlessly while staring at a glass LED screen with pixels on it while feeling like I've accomplished nothing. Just average stuff, I suppose. I'm not really that interesting tbh... I work at home and I am just "vibing", as the kids say. I have some long term projects planned, but I'm at least trying to rest up from a really shitty 7 years that I've had back to back to back so... Nothing really insightful to write here haha..
Is there a medical diagnosis that impact your mental/comportamental stability somehow?
Likely several... I had a very traumatic childhood that I constantly gaslight myself about like saying things like "it wasn't that bad, people have it worse" and much worse.. I disassociate from reality every 2.5 seconds, can't focus, have terrible insomnia, EXTREMELY low energy, mood swings, brain fog, random body pains 24/7, seventeen billion repressed emotions which don't help out anything else that I'm dealing with, memory problems, and I need caffeine to do the bare minimum of just about anything on most days, but some of that could be average American problems. I've suspected I have some form as Aspergers, and probably A TON of mental illnesses, such as OCD, anxiety, depression, and maybe a personality disorder.
Describe your upbringing. Did it have any kind of religious or structured influence? How did you respond to it?
My upbringing is a very mixed bag overall. I would not say I had a typically "tragic" childhood (there goes me gaslighting myself LOL) because people have DEFINITELY had it worse than me. But I can't sit here and pretend everything I went through was "normal". To attempt to sum it up, I basically was a "gifted" kid who got good grades throughout school and maintained my image of being this perfect kid, but meanwhile in the shadows, I was just slowly dying inside and suffering from a lot of imposter syndrome (amongst other things), which I'd definitely would say is warranted because I was NOT cut out for anything in school and it showed. I basically faked my way through school, got burnt out EARLY but got mega burnt out by senior year, and basically started college with no plan but somehow still managed to graduate (barely) and just kinda end up where I am now. As far as a religious upbringing is concerned, I definitely was heavily influenced by religion, in kind of a negative way (?) Religion and I have a VERY weird relationship. On the one hand, I guess I love my religious friends, the lessons I learned from it, and a lot of what it says, but on the other hand I can not ever be a part of one mostly because of some of the dogmatic thinking and extremely toxic aspects to it that people use to justify hate and violence, and that's not really my type of thing. Also, I used to be really kinda "uppity" or arrogant about my religion, and now I DESPISE seeing the same type of "holier than thou" attitude projected. It kinda irks me on the inside. Looking back, my response to it all was a major polarity shift from one extreme, to the other, and now where I'm at, I can look back at both sides and take the good from both. What do I mean by that? Welllllll... I mentioned earlier how I can't stand the "holier than thou" type, and for a while, that was DEFINITELY me. I was REALLY into it and took it extremely serious. I wouldn't mind being called "lame" or "whack" for having my faith, but looking back, it really made my quality of life kinda worse because I did have those strong beliefs and those off-putting characteristics that ostracized me from my peers and some potentially great experiences. I grew out of this and then became an EXTREME atheist, and for a while, it felt freeing. I felt better, smarter, edgier, and just superior, but looking back, I was just cynical and a total asshole, and arguably worse than the "holier than thou douche persona" that I had growing up. Luckily, my extreme atheism phase kinda fizzled out after some other trauma that happened around the time I became an atheist, and now, I can respect religion and be open to it, the ideas, and the amazing things that come from it while also maintaining my independent thinking but not to the point of being "hur dur be skeptical and point out everything wrong with religion all the time and be an asshole for no reason to religious people", if that makes any sense. As far as my relationship to the structure in my life.. It's kind of a mixed bag. I had a pretty suffocated childhood, and I wasn't allowed certain things, but I guess it wasn't really all that bad in the end, or at least as it could've been. Most of this was just protection from a single parent who just didn't want anything to me and wanted me to be the best I could be in life, and I can respect this and look back on some parts of my structured childhood with fondness. But I most certainly got sick of it all by the time I was almost finished with highschool and in a lot of my college career. I basically used to be Mr. Structured. I had everything organized, I was neat, clean, got everything done at the right time, all the good stuff. But my brain just got tired of maintaining that forever, because I was already pretty much bad at life, but I was forced to just continue faking everything until something happened. So, by the end of high school, I lost all of those characteristics and became extremely sloppy. But I really do blame that on being physically tired. Being as organized as I was was TAXING because of how I overdid it. And now, thinking back, a lot of my structuredness was just on the surface level, and it was me trying to live up to everyone's standards and be just on top of everything, all the time, at a VERY unhealthy level, and that's probably what burnt me out too. I was addicted to the image of being this extremely put together person who has their shit together, while not having absolutely any shit to get together because I was withering away inside faster than fresh cotton candy from the fair melts in your mouth when your mouth is dry. So, basically to sum it all up, I was a really clean cut religious smart "gifted" kid who wasn't really that, at all (AND I still don't know who I am now tbh haha) and I got tired of putting on that image all the time and turned to a dirty neckbeard atheist cynic for a short time, and then balanced out to whatever the fuck I am now because I wear 238234 different masks for each and every occasion, but THAT'S a different story haha.. I look back at both equally cringey and horrible chapters of my life with some scorn for myself and the times, but overall a much more understand a balanced perspective, because I had to go through it all to be me, and I'm just glad I can be here now. I'd say I definitely liked moments from those chapters, but overall, I'm much happier where I'm at now, which is not nearly as anally obsessive at the concept of being structured and not nearly as hyper-faithful to my religion or just a total asshole piece of shit atheist.
What do you do as a job or as a career (if you have one)? Do you like it? Why or why not?
Right now, I'm sorta half employed. I do trade a bit on the Forex markets from signals groups and make enough to help out my family, and buy myself things here and there. I'm only really doing this because I went through a really shitty 7 years and I just need time to myself to kind of figure out, A LOT (clearly, as you can see by reading this HORRIBLE reddit post LOL) and rest. I just like the amount of freedom I have, and the money. I really like the idea of me having money saved and ready for any emergency, or family member or friend. I just need money to help out, stay safe, and to have time for myself to rest and take care of my health, or just pursue all the hobbies I missed out on, and I'm totally fine doing this the rest of my life. I don't really need or want that much in life, and I've always kind of been like this. I just want things to be peaceful and simple, so that my mind can be at ease and to just have free time for myself and a solution for any random chaotic emergency that happens because my mind always thinks of the worst that can happen by catastrophizing literally everything ever in the world. So my "career" is just a means to an end, like I'm sure a lot of people's careers are, unless you happen to have a passion or something, which is also amazing. I do like writing, and I do wanna finish my book. I daydream a lot about it, and sometimes that's much more fun than actually writing it, but I do wanna finish it, but I also want it to be absolutely perfect and plothole free, and much more. I also wanna do YouTube and Twitch, but I feel like I have a lot to do as a person before I can freely be on those sites as a full person/"influencer" (I have so many mixed feelings about having a full time career as an influencer and having my life under that much pressure and scrutiny, BUTTTTT that's a different discussion...), so I might pursue those slowly or just freestyle it for fun. Those were my big dreams as a kid, but growing up, I see that writing a good book is damned hard (worth it, but hard) and being a Youtubesocial media star is a different world entirely, and I don't know how I feel about it. Like, I know I'd never be a Shane Dawson (YIKES) or Cryaotic (EWWWWW) but to even just disappoint one person, or have any sort of fuckup, or.. I don't know where I'm going with this... Basically, everything I suffer from now would only be amplified by having a YouTube career, my people pleasing tendencies, my over obsession with being perfect for others/myself, my workaholic tendencies, my being hard on myself, my fear of fucking anything up, and my imposter syndrome, those would all go BRRRRRR if I got any decent success on YouTube, so... *Phew* That's my weird relationship with my life, and where I wanna go with it. To be honest, I'd be happy where I'm at right now, because at the end of the day, as long as I'm healthy and my family is happy, I'm ok, but a part of me also wants to live out those big dreams like having my book be a thing and animated, and being a good YouTuber, meme maker, Twitch streamer, all the above at the same time but my insecurities are like "BWAHAHAHAHA", so I'm just like: -_- But I'll figure it out! Hopefully..
If you had to spend an entire weekend by yourself, how would you feel? Would you feel lonely or refreshed?
Hm... Interesting question. Honestly, I'd never feel lonely on weekends by myself. Even when my friends are doing better things or aren't around, I don't really feel lonely I guess. Most of the time I have weekends alone, I feel pretty refreshed I suppose. It's kinda hard to tell haha.. This feels more like a circumstantial question where a myriad of things that are going on during the hypothetical week or just in my life/mind would determine this answer. Sometimes I just need that weekend to recharge and be alone and in my thoughts, or watching Netflix or being an absolute video game degenerate while dancing alone in my room and eating junk food. And sometimes, I like to be out and about with my friends, or just doing stuff. I probably lean more towards refreshed though, overall in a general sense.
What is your relation with movement and your surroundings? For instance do you prefer a sport or outdoors event? If an outdoors event what is it? And why? If not what type of activities do you tend to engage in?
BIG YIKES. I feel like a non human that doesn't belong on this planet or universe 99% of the time. I'm VERY slow, awkward movements, jittery, sometimes it looks like I was born yesterday with my grasp on physical reality, but yet, I do interestingly enough find myself loving to sweat and workout. I don't really have the coordination for any type of real sport, but I do like walks and I would run if I lived in an area where I could have a private or peaceful run where I would not be interrupted or seen by anyone because I look HIDEOUS running. I won't say I could never get into running at a professional or serious level, like with a group, but I'd just say it's more unlikely, for now. It sounds really exciting and interesting to be good at something physical, and I have always admired people who could do really sick stuff in sports, and I've always wanted to do it. But, right now, my uncoordinated ass will stick to just riding my exercise bike occasionally to burn off some restlessness and help me sleep betteperform better because working out makes my brain feel oddly stable lol. (I guess that's why I have such a fascination with physical stuff even though I am absolutely hopeless in most of it in the grand scheme of things)
How curious are you? Do you have more ideas then you can execute? What are your curiosities about? What are your ideas about - is it environmental or conceptual, and can you please elaborate?
I don't know if I'd say I'm curious, I guess I just think a lot. Like, I'll see something or watch something and daydream about it all the time, making new ideas out of it in my head or creating something new with it, trying to take it a new level or understand it at a different level, if that makes sense. Like, I'll sort of mentally digest something and that's what gives me inspiration, or ideas. I take in everything as I go and make up new shit with it later on (LOL this sounds like regular human being talk, because everyone does this). I would say I have a lot of ideas on everything. I daydream about random chapters in my book a lot, like full on scenes. I'll daydream about a new melody for a song I've never heard with lyrics, and I'll try to make lyrics in my head and extend the melody. I'll daydream about my interactions in life, and just how I could have responded differently, or maybe what the other person is thinking, or feeling, or stuff like I wonder if they're okay. I'll daydream about new memes I can make, or me in an interview (OMG MEGA CRINGE ROFL). I pretty much daydream about... Everything. And then I'll daydream about what I'm daydreaming about, and why I'm doing it, and it gets too meta at that point. (this could very well just be maladaptive daydreaming and NOT indicative of any cognitive function ROFL)
Would you enjoy taking on a leadership position? Do you think you would be good at it? What would your leadership style be?
Nope, nuh uh. I am too much of a people pleaser and pushover. I'd be dead or betrayed before my first week is over. The thing about me is that generally, I feel like I'd be a terrible leader because I can overthink a lot, all the time, and I'd be slow to action and prone to analysis paralysis and extreme people pleasing tendencies. I can also be conflict avoidant, and just want people to be happy, so I'd let a lot of stuff slide that I maybe should not. Now, don't get me wrong, I can be firm and tough when needed, but eventually that'd be too much for me to bear, and I couldn't be in a position like that for long. I genuinely hope I never become a leader, because even when I'm looking back to five minutes ago, I can say that "ew, that's cringe bro", so I clearly have a lot of work to do before I have something that serious on my plate.
Are you coordinated? Why do you feel as if you are or are not? Do you enjoy working with your hands in some form? Describe your activity?
HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHA. Funny question. But.. Yeahhhhhhh... No. I am NOT coordinated. I can barely walk in my kitchen without the fear of me accidentally turning wrong or moving incorrectly and just breaking something or knocking over everything in the kitchen. SOMETIMES I'm in James Bond mode, and it feels like I can do anything physical, and I feel aware of everything, my body, my surroundings, and I can actually move like a human being, but that usually doesn't last long. I can do just the bare minimum that an average human can do, but MUCH MUCH worse and at a greater cost of my energy, and my mental energy trying not to fuck anything up because I have literally just been sitting at times and barely move and knock over EVERYTHING somehow, because that's just how much my body was not meant to be on planet earth and I maybe should have been incarnated as a slug, idk.
Are you artistic? If yes, describe your art? If you are not particular artistic but can appreciate art please likewise describe what forums of art you enjoy. Please explain your answer.
I'd describe myself as artistic, even if I haven't drawn in years LOL. But let me explain... I do still have a love for it, I just haven't really been able to practice. In general, my art is just aiming for whatever is in my brain, and I don't have a solid style. I'm just going for whatever I'm going for in the moment. I prefer a mix of realism with some "quirks", if that makes sense. While I haven't drawn in a while, this is how I'd imagine I'd want my art to look nowadays. Pretty realistic with perfect everything, perfect features, perfect environment or whatever I'm illustrating or going for (perfect features on a person, all the hair strands drawn individually, etc), with a mix of my own little "spice", if that makes sense. Back in the day, my art was just trying to copy classic anime, and while I have no problem with that style, I just wanna kinda make my own style, even if that is hard to verbalize lmao. Alright guys.. I would write more, but I'm sleepy and some of this is getting dumb/boring (as if it wasn't already LOL). I'm glad you made it this far, and thank you for reading and putting up with this actual garbage fire of a post. Please take care of yourselves during these crazy weird times, and I hope you are doing well. I look forward to reading you guys responses (if I get any LOL). Stay amazing, and stay healthy :3
eToro: impressions, doubts and (ignored) lessons from copy trading
(no promotional content, no affiliate links) Hi, exactly four years ago, I started copying eToro investors / traders that I selected using the broker's built-in search engine (profitable in last two years, already being copied by others), followed by manual filtering, to take into account fluctuations in yearly returns, composition of their portfolios etc. With that, I got a list of 10 people whom I started to copy on a demo account: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u52f0XHfr-LauIscKcFDYF0yGTTUr6VY/view?usp=sharing In the screenshot you can see that in case of the first two of them the amount invested was $10,000, while for the rest it was just $100. This is because I started copying the first two a couple of weeks earlier; eventually I changed this into $100 the same day I made the screenshot and this is when my calculations start - so this thing is irrelevant, I just cannot travel in time to make another screenshot. What I did after that? Well, within the next six weeks my profits oscillated between -$11 and +$9.50 (the biggest profit was on Nov 9, a day after US presidential elections). I found this "boring" and discontinued experimenting with copy trading. Today I looked back at those ten traders. Here is what I found. Firstly, seven of them are not with eToro anymore; investorNo1, Simple-Stock-Mkt, tradingrelax, 4exPirate, primit, Gallojack, xjurokx. The other three traders are:
toppertrader: not being copied by anyone and for a good reason: his loss this year alone is 61.16%!
Jean-marcLenfant: copied by only 67 people; his loss this year is -1.09% but in general he is quite successful, with yearly profits ranging from 3.57% to 7.32%.
Girem2: he has no copiers, his profit this year is 41.45% but in 2018 he experienced a loss of 83.15%!
My observations and thoughts are as follows:
Seven out of ten traders are not with eToro anymore, which makes me wonder why. I have no proof but my guess is they simply performed poorly, lost their copiers and closed their accounts. This is already alarming but what if they opened another account? Or, even worse, multiple accounts? They could be investing small money and try different risky approaches, hoping that at least one account will turn out profitable in the long turn, attracting potential copiers. (I'm not claiming that those 7 particular traders did this, it's just my general suspicion regarding some of eToro traders)
I'm unable to calculate what would be my profit if I never stopped copying them, because I cannot check at what day and with what profit those seven traders left eToro. I'm guessing this would be an immense loss. On the other hand, considering the three traders who are still with eToro, I would lose more than a quarter of my assets!
What now? I must be a quite adventurous person or at least an incorrigible optimist, because a month ago (exactly on Aug 26th) I started copying three traders with real money. Here is who they are. rubymza (Heloise Greeff)
invests in stocks, with GOOG, INTC, BLDP, MA, MSFT, AMZN, V, MU, IBM and NXPI making up 50.3% of her portfolio (allocation of each of them is in between 3.02% and 6.85%)
active since 2016 (only the year 2016 ended with a loss)
has 3044 copiers and $2M-$5M of copy assets under management
strategy (her own words): "My investing strategy focusses mostly on US indices, tech and pharma, promising future (5-10years) growth. My trades are based on technical analysis using machine learning to understand patterns and trends in the markets. I prefer to keep a diverse portfolio to spread risk while achieving great returns."
he is a Forex trader, making typically 21 trades per week; his favorite currency pairs are EURCHF (12% of trades), CADCHF and GBPUSD; the trades, however, typically make up below 5% of his portfolio (at least whenever I'm checking it), making most of my funds unused
active since January 2017: surprisingly enough, he has every single month profitable, though monthly profits are in the range of 0.03% to 3.34% only
has 8977 copiers and more than $5M of copy assets under management
strategy (his own words): "I monitor currency pairs all day to find the best entry. There is some management/scaling position for perfect entry. The risk control is a big part of my strategy," (quite vague, to be honest)
commodities compose 76% of his portfolio and his favorite assets are Gold and Oil (at the moment, Gold makes up half of invested amount)
active since July 2016, with the following yearly profits, starting from 2016: 6.56%, 10.05%, 13.09%, 32.26% and -2.03% (the current year)
has 1493 copiers and $1M-$2M of copy assets under management
strategy (his own words): "My system is based on patterns, and a variety of technical analysis tools and some fundamental analysis. I primarily trade in commodities. " (quite vague as well)
own experience: my profit with rayvahey is 2.56%
What was my strategy to hand-pick these particular traders? First I did some basic scanning using eToro's built-in search engine. The most important filter was that the trader was profitable within the last two years: unfortunately, eToro does not allow to reach details of earlier performance automatically. To know how the trader performed before 2019, I had to look at stats in the profile of each of them. I was also taking into account how often they trade (to avoid those who do only a couple of trades yearly), whether they were trading recently and whether they write posts regularly in their feed. With this, I got a list of fifteen candidates to copy:
As you already know, I finally chose three of them. Rubymza seemed to be the most trustworthy stock trader, based on profits, posts feed and regular trading, among other things. Regarding OlivierDanvel, his uniqueness is the ability to record continuous profits with the Forex market. Finally, with rayvahey I wanted to increase my exposure to the commodities market. Wish me good luck! Michael P.S. You might find those copy-trading related readings interesting:
So I was sitting out on my balcony (in an apartment complex) and out comes my upstairs neighbor. He is conducting an “interview” over FaceTime. The “interviewee” was telling him that he had lost his job due to Covid and has struggled to find employment since. So all of a sudden my neighbor goes “okay so this interview is going to go like this: I am going to tell you a little bit about what we do” and talks about how when you exchange 100 dollars of US money, you get more back when you exchange it for euros. Then he goes on this whole thing about how the Foreign Currency Exchange is a lucrative way to make income—whatever. THEN. he says-another way to earn income is to get other people to join the “group chat” (whatever that means) this man literally says “you can have 12 people under you but you don’t have to sign up those twelve people. You sign up three people and those three people sign up three people.” ThAt Is a PyRaMiD. This poor victim fell for the scam and sent my neighbor 200 dollars and now has to pay 176 a month which I guess goes toward trading? Anyways I did a little digging and it’s a company called Forex and I am fairly certain it is not legal.
What are IBD, Corp Finance, and Asset management firms looking for when hiring for interns?
Obviously not work experience.. So I’m guessing it’s pretty much just getting the interviews primarily through networking? As well as having a high GPA and Finance related extra curricular activities? Would earning certificates related to financial modelling, trading Forex, joining finance clubs and learning about capital markets on the side help provide me with leverage relative to other candidates? Thanks! Any advice or suggestions would also be greatly appreciated! :)
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.
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