Saturday, June 19, 2021

BRETT STEENBARGER'S TRADING PSYCHOLOGY RESOURCE CENTER


Contact For Trading Firms and Media:  steenbab at aol dot com

My Twitter Feed:  @steenbab

RADICAL RENEWAL - Free blog book on trading, psychology, spirituality, and leading a fulfilling life

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The Three Minute Trading Coach Videos

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Forbes Articles:


My coaching work applies evidence-based psychological techniques (see my background and my book on the topic) to the improvement of productivity, quality of life, teamwork, leadership, hiring best practices, and creativity/idea generation.  Trading firms, teams, and portfolio managers interested in performance coaching and help with hiring processes can email me at steenbab at aol dot com.  Please note that my work is limited to trading and investment firms, so I cannot provide online advice or coaching services to individual, independent traders


FURTHER RESOURCES




I wish you the best of luck in your development as a trader and in your personal evolution.  In the end, those are one and the same:  paths to becoming who we already are when we are at our best.

Brett
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Finding Better Edges In Your Trading

 
I thought I would do something different with this blog and actually chronicle the development of new edges in my trading.  I'll post my successes and failures and learning lessons, with an eye toward trading psychology and also the psychology of the things I'm trading.

One lesson that I've learned from working with the traders at SMB Capital is that their success is as much about *what* they trade as *how* they trade.  Both are quite important, of course, but if one is trading directionally and the stock, index, or asset being traded simply isn't moving, there won't be a lot of opportunity.  During this recent period of "meme trading", I've also noticed that very high levels of movement are not necessarily very high opportunities for profit.  We don't just want things that move; we also need them to move in meaningful and predictable ways.

When we trade suboptimal trading vehicles, it has the same potential impact on our results as utilizing suboptimal trading methods.  Both lead to significant missed opportunities.

One tool that I will be employing in finding superior opportunity is the Market Charts site.  Long time readers know that I have made use of the Index Indicators site to identify promising breadth patterns in the overall market.  The Market Charts site is a much expanded version of Index Indicators, tracking more indicators, multiple indicators, and a variety of stocks and ETFs.  I respect Mo's work and so view this as a worthwhile platform to begin finding fresh sources of edge.  (Please note:  I have no commercial interest in these sites; as always, I only share resources that I have found to be useful and promising).

Please note the recent blog post on innovating in our trading.  An important theme from that post is that innovation begins by asking different and better questions.  I will be looking to the Market Charts platform to first generate better hypotheses and only then to come up with superior trade ideas.  For example, might it be possible to generate long/short trades and portfolios by finding related stocks that have greater and lesser edge?  By being long the stock with good upside edge and short the stock without such an edge and weighting the pair for relative volatility, one could make money whether the overall market goes up or down, as long as the edge plays out.  In other words, does the presence of a historical edge predict *relative* performance?  

Good trade ideas come from good questions.

Much more to come!

Brett


Further Resources:

Three Minute Trading Coach:  Drama Creates Trauma

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Monday, June 14, 2021

How To Innovate In Your Trading

 

Very little has been written in trading psychology about innovation.  And yet, wherever I've encountered traders and portfolio managers with longstanding track records of success, I've seen evidence of innovation.  The innovator is the one who asks really good questions, really original questions.  The innovator is the one who sees changes in market behavior and wants to figure out what that's all about and how to take advantage of it.  

When we become completely P/L focused, there's little bandwidth left for innovation.  Superior trading requires an absorption in markets; superior good idea generation requires getting away from screens and seeing a bigger picture.

On a recent trip to Nashville, I had plenty of time away from screens and started asking simple questions, but questions I hadn't asked before.  For instance, I wondered if the best predictors of what happens in a given equity market index (such as SPX) might come from stocks outside that index (such as Russell 2000) or subsets of that index (such as the Dow).  In other words, do certain groups of stocks tend to lead momentum moves, trending moves, or reversal moves in a given index?  Oddly enough, I had always looked for data generated by an index to anticipate moves in that index.  But what if that's just playing the same game as everyone else?

Early days and we'll see what the research brings, but it's promising so far.  For example, it turns out that strength in the average RSI of small cap stocks is strongly correlated with future short-term strength in the SPX, accounting for almost all of the gains in SPY for the past two years.  Who knew?

But the great psychological benefit of innovation is that it leads to curiosity and discovery and fascination.  It rekindles our interest in markets when we could otherwise be ground down by choppy trading conditions and lackluster P/L.  Finding a new edge feels like becoming a new trader all over again, with all the new enthusiasm and excitement.  Come to think of it, that's also what leads to keeping relationships new and that's what leads to keeping life fresh and interesting.  When we innovate, look at new things, try new things, and learn new things, we are reborn--and that *gives* us energy.

Further Reading:



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Wednesday, June 02, 2021

How We Sabotage Our Trading

 

Above you can see the floor of my office, where well over 30 books are in various stages of being read--simultaneously!  My technique for writing is to read and read and read different authors on a given topic and eventually something jumps out at me as an integrating idea.  It's really no different from looking at charts and market information from different time frames and suddenly picking up on a directional move in the making.  Analyzing, analyzing, analyzing: that takes focus.  The creativity comes from the synthesizing:  putting it together into a coherent picture.

One of the main topics of my reading is meditation.  It turns out that there are *many* different forms of meditation, many of which are quite unlike our common conception of the Eastern practice.  As I explain in the recent Forbes article, the most important function of meditation is to build focus and amplify our experience.  The problem is that the great majority of people who try meditation don't pursue it long enough to achieve that amplification.

The way in which we often sabotage our trading is through our automatic, negative thought patterns.  As the cognitive therapists emphasize, we typically learn negative habits of thinking, where automatic thoughts take over.  These can be self-critical thoughts, repetitive thoughts of being a victim, worry thoughts, etc.  What is not well appreciated is that such automatic thinking is meditation in reverse.  When we focus on our negative thoughts, we internalize negativity.  Ironically, we end up using our magnifying glass to accentuate the very thinking that sabotages us:  in trading, and in life.

We internalize what we focus on and that shapes who we become.  That can uplift us or it can sabotage us--

Further Reading:

Why We Fail To Reach Our Potential

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