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. I do my bit
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.
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).
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.
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.
* In a total blowout, $PLAY won. So it's D&B time next week. Post will drop Monday at market open.
Pre-ICO: Stockus: Fantasy Trading Blockchain Platform
Stockus Crypto Summary
Hi everybody! I’m happy to introduce the Stockus Project to you. It is a new and exciting project on which our team is working on now. The main ideas and its realization are explained further. It will be nice if they are interesting for you.
Stockus. Fantasy trading platform based on the blockchain technology.
Our goal is to create a leading financial simulator based on open ledger technology in order to provide participants with a reliable, transparent trading platform and opportunities to earn large cash prizes. Stockus – is a fantasy trading platform based on smart contracts. Participants place trades individually or in teams. The application allows users to enrol in various tournaments and earn cash rewards without an initial investment of capital.
Gaming Capital Globally
The online gaming industry is rapidly growing, with figures indicating total earnings of 99.6billion USD in 2016 alone. This is an impressive amount; however it pales in comparison to the size of the financial markets. The daily turnover of the Forex market amounted to 5.1trillion USD in 2016. Approximately 10-15 million individual market participants actively trade on Forex worldwide with the total volume generated by retail traders being equal to 293billion USD daily. Statistics show that the average starting capital of a retail trader is somewhere in the region of 700 USD. Within 4 months of trading 97% of all retail traders lose their initial investment and leave the market. The amounts that such traders lose on the currency market amount to tens of millions of dollars annually.
$10 against $700
Our approach differs substantially from the business model of the classic broker. There are two fundamental pillars on which Stockus was built. The first one is that exchange trading for the retail participant is comparable to a game, where players place bets on the direction of the market. And the second one is the players prefer to pay small-one off buy-ins for the chance to win large cash prizes in tournaments as apposed to putting large deposits at risk on leveraged trading accounts. There is clearly a drastic difference between a trader who suffers the loss of their entire deposit of $700 whilst trading on Forex, and a player who buys into a trading tournament for $10 with the chance of winning a massive prize. That same $10 deposit would get the trader nowhere on the Forex market, whereas on Stockus he stands to win thousands of dollars without the requirement of a large investment upfront. Our approach is light years apart from the business model of a traditional broker in the sense that it aims to protect the trader without limiting their gains. Traders are now faced with the choice of trading on the market with a high degree of risk or playing Stockus with limited risk whilst maintaining their earning potential. This is a new opportunity to trader and we believe that they will chose in our favour.
Equal odds of winning
The probability of winning in a fully subscribed Stockus tournament is approximately 3-3.5% which is roughly equal to the chances of turning a profit whilst trading on the Forex market. However $10 gets you nowhere on a forex brokerage account, whereas in Stockus you can enter a trading competition and stand to win tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars with the same amount. The benefit of Stockus is that each player has a limited loss, but gets an equal chance to win large prizes. Fantasy trading – the Stockus platform is designed to be a direct competitor to traditional brokers by attracting a large number of participants. There is no sense in funding a leverage forex account and risking the entire deposit when the trader can enter a tournament and win fantastic amounts of prize money in a variety of competitions. The development of trading skills and ability to collect large gains solely with the merit of experience and knowledge is the main advantage of Stockus. Millions of players with the ambition, aptitude and skill will be able to compete for the large cash rewards with limited downside. In the past such individuals were faced with a choice between financial markets or betting games. Now, such players have an innovative alternative in the form of Stockus.
How to become a millionaire
Stockus is a financial simulator based on a social media platform which allows any player to participate in a tournament of their choice. If a certain trader prefers a short-term, high frequency game, they can join a daily tournament with large prizes. If, on the other hand, the player is more partial to a long term, trend-based approach, the weekly or monthly tournament is more suited to this style and the prizes can reach astronomical levels. It is crucial to note that the size of the prize is not restricted, which means that the more players buy into the competition, the higher the winning pot. The payouts for larger tournaments can potentially reach six figures or more. The game consists of the following: Professional tournaments which will constantly increase in number. A small buy-in amount is paid to enter the tournament and compete against other traders. The winners immediately receive a payout to their account balance. Friendly tournaments which allow anyone to participate free of charge. The main purpose of these trading challenges is to educate new players and allow existing users to refine their strategies in preparation for the professional games. Decentralised challenges which users can host independently by selecting their competitors and forming a private league. Team tournaments allow players to team up with other traders and compete against each other in groups throughout several rounds.
Players or teams who lose their initial capital have the option to buy back in and continue trading. As opposed to leveraged trading, where each loss is a direct hit to the capital and savings of the trader, Stockus allows players to continue trading for as long as they wish. Players have the ability to improve their chances by purchasing leverage, analytical tools and other extras for additional payments. Members of the Stockus community can exchange feedback, tips and trade ideas with each other. A referral program encourages players to invite their friends. The main attraction for most traders will be the professional tournaments. During the development of our tournament system, the team drew a lot of inspiration from the structure of the competitions held by the fantasy trading platform FanDuel. The capitalisation of FanDuel as an organisation is in the billions, and the platform’s phenomenal success along with hundreds of thousands of members testifies to the scalability and potential of such a model when applied in a different area.
The Principles of Platform Monetisation
Stockus aims to monetise fantasy trading by applying a small commission on each buy-in as well as charging additional fees for bonus features such as refunding, leverage, analytics, etc. Each player can purchase extras in order to improve their chances of winning and gain an edge over their competition. Additional initiatives such as referral programmes and promotions allow players to help others and earn additional tokens for their efforts.
Testing the game
Stockus utilises a unique trading platform which our team modelled around the popular MT4 trading software. This proprietary platform allows players to trade stocks, futures, currency pairs and options in real time on a broad selection of global venues. The Stockus model was throughout several beta rounds hosted on the Facebook developer platform in order to enhance the software and improve functionality. This testing base also allowed us to confirm the viability of the concept and saleability of the offering. This period allowed us to gather valuable data on user preferences, as well as collect feedback and verify the validity of the game concept. Users actively participated in the trading tournaments and purchased additional features in order to boost their chances of earnings a prize. We saw a healthy amount of competition for the prize spots, with many players repurchasing funds or unlocking leverage to get the upper hand on their rival traders. Our developers also expanded the capabilities of the platform during this time, adding several different tournament types as well as options trading during the testing phase. We have now developed a completed version of the game based on the results of these extensive tests, which we are excited to bring to your attention.
Blockchain as a foundation for trust
Stockus is innovating by allowing all types of traders to compete in tournaments with limited risk and on equal terms. Ethereum allows us to create smart contracts which automatically determine and verify the outcome of each trading tournament, as well as paying out the rewards to the winners. The principles of crypto can be used to process and distribute the gains from the various tournaments in an efficient and transparent manner. This solution is optimal due to its security and scalability as the number of players and competitions grows. Unlike a typical brokerageplatform, the entire infrastructure of Stockus is built on blockchain, making the setup robust and secure. One of the toughest challenges we faced during the beta testing phase was gaining the trust of the players. Some users raised concerns regarding the authenticity of the tournament results and likelihood of an actual payout. The blockchain addresses such concerns and puts any doubts to rest due to the transparent and objective manner in which the smart contracts will determine winners as well as the final payout of the prizes. This transparency creates an element of trust amongst users and enhances the eligibility of the tournament series. A second challenge addressed by the blockchain infrastructure is raising the required funds and launching the game within a period of 3months. An ICO offers a priceless opportunity to meet our targets and achieve the ultimate objective of building a trading simulator which will offer an innovative and groundbreaking alternative to the traditional forex trading approach. A third argument in favour of an ICO and the blockchain solution is the ability to issue our own tokens, which will essentially act as a cryptocurrency derivative within our game. These tokens will have a value versus Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies which is directly dependent on the popularity and success of the game. Should the demand for ingame services and tournaments continue to increase as we expect, so will the value of the tokens in relation to other currencies.
Stockus tokens are an integral component of the Stockus economy and ecosystem. Owners of these tockens will have access to the following services: - Participation in trading tournaments - Act as witnesses and judges in the trading tournaments - Receive rewards and prizes in the competitions, promotions and tournaments - Purchase additional services and bonus features - Hosting tournaments - Receive referral rewards for inviting friends The tokens play a key role in the economic processes at play in the Stockus environment. These tokens can be purchased in the application, received from other players, won in a tournament, or as a reward for acting as witness or judge in determining the results of a competition. Additional tokens can also be received as a reward for inviting friends to play. Tokens can also be acquired through the preliminary offering of Stockus tokens via Ether (ENT). The Stockus interface will also integrate third party trading solutions such as Shapershift and Coinbase for those users who do not already hold ENT. The initial offering of Stockus tokens will take place in the form of a preliminary ICO. Anyone can subscribe to the offering in exchange for ENT or other cryptocurrencies such as BTC or STEEM. We plan to offer 5,000,000 of our tokens at a rate of 300 tokens for 1 ENT.
Tournament Result Verification
The decentralised tournament verification system is an elegant and robust solution for all users as it prevents any manipulation or abuse of the competition results. All token holders will be able to act as witnesses or judges when determining the winners of each tournament, allowing the public to verify the results via open ledger technology. Should a single participant disagree with the results, an independent confirmation of the tournament results is established by the witnesses. If the conclusion regarding the winners of a tournament is unanimous and there are no disagreements between participants, no added verification via witness is required and the system automatically processes a payout.
Stockus ICO and Development plans
The bulk of raised capital will be directed at the following: - Development of 2 professional tournaments: the WFT (Weekly Fantasy Tournament) and DFT (Daily Fantasy Tournament). These will be completed in 3 months. - A promotional campaign which will ensure that the userbase reaches critical mass and the project becomes sustainable by increasing the prize amounts in the WFT to the order of tens of thousands. - The development of a social network within Stockus, which would allow players to exchange opinions, experiences and advice, as well as form trading societies and teams. - The development of a mobile version of the trading application. - Development and production of at least one new trading competition every 2 months. The game should have at least 6 different tournament types by the end of the first year. The Stockus development team is pleased to present our project for your review and assessment. We hope the summary has made a positive impression and look forward to your support and feedback.
Thank you in advance for your time and attention.
tl;dr New blockchain platform allowing fantasy trading, limited capital at risk for the chance to make substantial amounts of money. Project currently under development, ICO later in the year, feel free to ask any questions!
*Introductions: I'm joskye. A cryptocurrency investor and holder. *
Hi again. This is the third part in our ongoing series on how to trade better and determine intelligent investments in cryptocurrency for the future.
- In part 1 I talked about the importance of selling enough to make back your principle investment i.e. if you buy something at $300 and it rises to $600 in value, sell $300 to eliminate all future risk of personal loss e.g. if that asset falls to $150 in value after (which can happen easily since suchvolatility is very common in cryptocurrency). In cryptocurrency trading/investments a 100% return of investment should always prompt you to consider selling 1/2 your stack.
- In part 2 I talked about the psychology behind fear of missing out; i.e. the dangers of buying during a sudden rise in an asset's price and how to make the most of such rallies whilst minimising the risks involved in joining them.
- In part 3a I discussed The importance of a value proposition and the absolute need for any cryptocurrency you invest in to already generate or have the potential to generate revenue in a manner completely independent of it's speculative value as dictated by daily market prices.
Part 3b continues where I left off with a discussion about price metrics specifically, what determines the price
and the importance of liquidity
... The day traders:
As I mentioned in my previous article, as of writing almost every cryptocurrency is determined purely by speculative value.
- Thus the absolute price of a given cryptocurrency is determined solely by the day traders and specifically the last price it was agreed that currency would be sold at with confirmation of that price by a buyer who bought it.
- People say lots of things determine the price; marketcap, liquidity, value proposition, revenues generated by the coin, the number of said coin in circulation but ultimately it comes down to the number of buyers and number of sellers competing for that coin.
- Perhaps the other thing is the size of said market relative to the money held by the players in it.
For instance in cryptocurrency Bitcoin is still the biggest player in the game. It carries a per unit price of $900 per coin. There are currently 16,090,137 (16 million) coins in circulation giving it a total marketcap value of [$900 x 16090137 =] $14481123300 or 14.48 billion USD.
- This is 85% of the current cryptocurrency marketcap. (The total marketcap of all cryptocurrencies as of writing is 17.17 billion USD.)
- Compare and contrast Shadowcash (SDC) which has a unit price of $1.27 with 6,616814 coins in circulation giving it a total marketcap value of [$1.27 x 6616814=] $8392766 or 8.39 million USD.
- Thus Shadowcash in comparison to Bitcoin is a tiny cap of the cryptocurrency sphere. Shadowcash has a total value that is only 0.06% of Bitcoin when comparing marketcap's.
Shadowcash looks even more meagre compared to the total cryptocurrency marketcap with only 0.048% of the total cryptocurrency sphere. To any Shadowcash holders despairing at this point, relax. There are over 707 cryptocurrencies trading as of writing and SDC holds the 27th ranking in terms of market cap. In such a competitive field, filled with scams that's pretty good. Moreso when you consider that SDC is a legitimate technology and is currently probably very undervalued.
... Lets look at the rich list for bitcoin:
Why did I just talk about this?
- The top holder has 124,956 Bitcoin valued at $1,12460400 or 1.24 billion USD.
- The top SDC holder has 1027261 SDC valued at $1,304621 or 1.4 million USD.
- Thus the wealth of the top SDC holder is 1.16% that of the wealth of the top Bitcoin holder.
- Well they say that a big fish can easily occupy, make a splash in and empty a small pond just by diving in.
In cryptocurrency I see this happening on the markets all the time
. Indeed market manipulation effects every single cryptocurrency eventually
... Market manipulation!
Large holders of valuable, high marketcap coins will often make multiple small volume purchases of less valuable, low marketcap coins. Often this will follow announcements regarding developments in that low marketcap coin.
- An example of low volume ordering is buying 1 SDC at $1.20, 0.5 SDC at $1.2001, 5 SDC at $1.2010, 3 SDC at $1.21, 10 SDC at $1.22 and 0.11 SDC at $1.24, but then leaving someone else to fill the order for 100 SDC priced at $1.242.
- Thus by spending $23.77, in low volume purchases the buyer can raise the market cap of SDC from ($1.20 * 6,616814 coins) $7.94 million to (1.24 * 6,616814) $8.20 million! (4.2% increase).
Low volume buying in a market with low daily trading volume can gradually drive up the price attracting an influx of buyers into that coin; often they will make larger volume purchases of it which helps drive up the price much further. This will trigger a further chain of buyers experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out, detailed in Part 2) who will drive up the price even further. The price will pump.
Often will smaller cap cryptocurrencies this may result in a sudden 20, 40, 60 or even +100% increase in value often over a very short time space (1-2 days, 1-2 weeks maximum).
The only way to discern if the sudden rise in coin value is due to pre-rigged market manipulation is to look at:
- Often the original purchaser who triggered these events will have accumulated a lot of said cryptocurrency cheaply prior to or during the early stages of the pump and will wind up selling the majority of his/her's purchases when the price reaches a peak; usually when the daily/hourly trading volume on that coin starts to decline but sufficient buyers are still available.
- This results in a sudden or often more gradual dump in the coins value, usually by falling by 75% or more of the rise.
You are looking for organic, gradual growth based on a solid value proposition.
- the value proposition of that coin (discussed extensively in part 3a of this guide)
- the order book
- the depth chart
- the pattern of change on daily trading volume (and liquidity)
- the price charts (15 minute, hourly, 1 day, 3 day, 7 day, 1 month, 6 months)
- the news cycle relevant to that coin
Sudden large spikes in value should make you pause and wonder if it's worth waiting for a gradual correction (organic drop) in price before entering your buy order. Do not fall for a pump and dump.
Stick to the lessons covered in previous parts of this guide (especially part 3a and 2) and you will be much less likely to lose money in the long run trading and investing in cryptocurrencies.
... The pattern of change on daily trading volume, the order book and liquidity:
Lets look at SDC and Bitcoin again. This time we are going to compare the daily trading volume (last 24 hours) in USD.
- In the last 24 hours (dated 8th Jan 2016), SDC traded a total volume of $26,033. This is 0.01% of all USD daily trading volume on exchanges and only 0.39% of the total marketcap of SDC.
- In contrast Bitcoin traded $163,306,776 ($0.16 Billion) over the same 24 hour period. This is 76.15% of USD daily trading volume on exchanges and only 1.12% of it's total marketcap.
I'd just like to use this opportunity to point out and reinforce the idea that day traders not holders dictate the daily price of an asset
. I'd also like to point out daily global trading volume on Forex is $4800 billion which makes Bitcoin a very small fish
in the broader arena of global finance and trade i.e. Bitcoin is still very vulnerable to all the price manipulation tactics and liquidity issues I am going to be describing in this article
by bigger players with richer pockets.
The daily trading volume also gives you an idea of how much fiat currency you can invest into a given cryptocurrency before you suddenly shift the price.
- The numbers means that just because the marketcap of Bitcoin is $14 billion, that does not mean that there is truly $14 billion worth of fiat currencies (USD, Yuan, Euro etc) in Bitcoin; the total fiat volume is merely an estimate based on current price and number of Bitcoin in circulation.
A sudden rise in coin price heavily out of proportion to the rise in daily trading volume should be the first sign to alert you to a pump & dump scam.
- For example based on the 24 hour daily trading volume for SDC I know that if I blindly spent $15,000 (57% of the daily trading volume) buying SDC without any regard to the price, I can be confident that I will likely cause the price of SDC to go up significantly.
- In contrast spending $15,000 to buy Bitcoin (0.0092% of the daily trading volume) without regards to it's price, I can be confident that it will not likely cause a significant rise in the daily spot price of Bitcoin.
Daily trading volume should show a steady increase over time with sustained buy support at new price levels; this is a good marker of organic, sustainable growth.
- It implies a low volume trading at low prices to trick the unseasoned trader to perpetuate higher volume, high price buys.
- If daily trading volume cannot organically increase to sustain the price, it will eventually fall when the original pumper (or group of pumpers) sell to take their profits.
- This does not always have to be the case! Sufficiently large price movements (several 1000%) can significantly raise the next absolute low in price for the mid-term (months) even if that is several 100% lower than the peak!
- Conversely declining trading volumes indicate loss of interest in the coin and a price that is potentially more prone to and at risk of price manipulation with smaller amounts of fiat/bitcoin (than if higher daily trading volumes existed).
- Finally the fact that daily fiat trading volume for Bitcoin and Shadowcash is such a small percentage of it's total marketcap reinforces the idea that price is set by day traders not by holders!
... For more detail you can now look at the depth chart: The depth chart is very useful to know how much fiat currency is required to cause the spot price of a given cryptocurrency to rise or fall by a given amount.
NB the price of most cryptocurrencies is expressed in Bitcoin
- The depth chart groups different bids (buy orders) and asks (sell orders) by price and volume e.g. 17.739 bitcoin worth of SDC are currently on sale at poloniex for 0.00117500 bitcoin each ($1.07 per coin) and 0.149 Bitcoin are on sale at the current spot price of 0.00135750 Bitcoin ($1.24)
- So as of writing, I can see (from the charts) to raise the price of SDC from 0.00135750 Bitcoin ($1.24) to 0.00181381 Bitcoin ($1.66) I would need to spend 26 Bitcoin ($23783).
because it has the largest market cap and daily trading volume of all cryptocurrencies by a very large margin
and because with a few exceptions (Ethereum, Monero) most cryptocurrencies do not have routes to directly purchase via fiat currency without first purchasing Bitcoin.
- The depth chart shows me how many coins I can buy without significantly increasing the price and how many coins I can sell within a given price range. It gives me an idea of the liquidity and volatility of the market i.e. if I buy SDC right now and need to sell it later today or tomorrow for fiat, what is the realistic probability I can get my entire amount in fiat returned to me in the amount originally spent.
Liquidity is super important. People often complain about a market lacking liquidity but that is often because they are trading in fiat volumes which far exceed the daily trading fiat volumes of the cryptocurrency they are referring to. If you are investing or trading in a cryptocurrency, always factor in the your personal liquidity and need for liquidity relative to that of the cryptocurrency you are investing in.
In other words don't expect to make a profit next day selling 'cryptocurrency x' if the size your single buy order composes >90% of the buy orders on the market for 'cryptocurrency x' that day (indeed in such a scenario be very prepared to sell at a loss next day if you absolutely have to)!
- The depth chart also gives me an idea of where significant supports exists (price zones with large buy orders relative to the depth chart) to determine the true base price (in conjunction with daily trading volume) and where significant resistances exist (price zones with large sell orders relative to the rest of the depth chart) to determine what the majority of sellers think the coin is truly worth. Be wary though as buy walls (large supports) and sell walls (large resistances) can be moved at any time.
There are certain patterns on a depth chart that make me believe a significant, sustained price rise is imminent: One example occurs when there is a very large volume of buy orders (>25% of total buy volume within 5% of current price) very
close to the current (spot) price, and a very
large number of sell orders close to but significantly above the spot price (approx 25% total sell volume within 10% of current price) and especially if the total buy order volume is a significantly higher percentage than it has previously been.
This simply indicates high demand at current price which may soon outstrip supply. Again I stress that these patterns can be manipulated easily by wealthy traders.
- It is up to you to study the depth charts and discern the patterns. You will learn more about day trading this way.
... The order book is another way of looking at the depth chart and allows you to see the specific transactions occurring that compose daily trading volume by the second!
I find it useful because it allows me to identify:
- If there is a string of low volume orders that can be filled to pump the price (or conversely a string of low volume sell orders to dump it). This can play on the psychology of the entire market as many people aren't simply aware of how the manipulations occur; most people simply look at the price!
- Where resistances to price change occur and how much money it will take to break them (i.e. if I am day trading to make a profit via pumping, is it worth me spending X to clear a sell wall to encourage others to buy and push up the price further or do I need to spend so much of my capital that should I fail to stimulate buy orders, I become vulnerable to a dump in coin price with effective subsequent loss of fiat money).
- The presence of automated trading bots rapidly cycling a buy or sell order of fixed volume between a series of prices that dynamically adjust with the overall trend in price movements. Bots can be your best friend (to pumping or dumping price) if you know how to manipulate them!
... The price charts:
Discussions about price charts could be endless. I'm not going to go into too much detail, mostly because I'm an investor who believes the value proposition, good consistent development, decent marketing and communications will ultimately trump spot prices and adverse (or positive) short term price trends in the future.
- I'm also going to skim this because I'm not as versed in this subject as I'd like to be.
- I personally use the candle bar charts on Poloniex to look at 15 minute and daily candles on the hourly, daily, weekly and monthly charts.
- I combine this with charts on Bittrex which can calculate the RSI (to estimate if a coin is overbought or oversold) and Bollinger Bands (again to help estimate if a coin is overbought or oversold).
- I usually look at the overall direction of trading over a period of several days, compare it to the direction and trends over the last month. I then try to interpret it in the context of the daily trading volume and depth charts.
- I often get my predictions on short term price movement wrong if I only look at candle charts without factoring in depth charts, order book and daily trading volume patterns! I have a lot more learning to do on technical analysis.
- The charts do often reveal mid/long term supports and resistances in price!
- Investopedia is a good place to start learning about different mathematical techniques to analyse charts (including any terms used in these articles).
- I'm a big fan of u/kustonoy who inhabits the Ethtrader sub. I personally feel his analysis of the short term markets are generally pretty good. You should never be too lazy to not do your own regular market analysis especially if trading short term, but if you want a good reference point, I suggest following him.
... The news cycle:
- I've mentioned this lower down the list because for intra-day and day traders and even to some extent investors, the news cycle matters very little unless it directly affects the value proposition in some way.
- If a news event does result in real maturation of the proposed value proposition (such that the technology has confirmed a new sustained user base or revenue stream) then it might justify a sustained rise in price regardless of the volatility achieved reaching and following the peak.
- Some assets may have nothing but an endless stream of good news which meets the above criteria yet it's valuation fails to increase. This is likely a sign that a larger player is deliberately manipulating the market to accumulate more of that asset to sell very high later (I believe Ethereum has fallen victim to this recently) or that it is occuring during long period of consolidation is where diversification of asset ownership is happening which means a new price floor is being set for much larger increases later on. The lowest most frequently occurring point which the price repeatedly bounces off of (stops falling below) is the new floor.
... Other interesting points: The 'coin x' scenario and the ridiculousness of marketcap:
'Coin X' is an imaginary hypothetical coin. There are only 10 in circulation. It has no value proposition beyond it's speculative value i.e. it will never generate a revenue independent of it's speculative value.
- If 'coin x' had only 10 in circulation, was indivisible and each coin had a value of $3 billion, the market cap of 'coin x' would surpass Bitcoin!
- If all 10 coins were not on sale then 'coin x' would have a value of zero.
- If 9 people had bought 'coin x' at $1 and the 10th person bought it at $3 billion, it's marketcap would still be $30 billion. This does not mean there is $30 billion of fiat stored in coin X.
- If an 11th buyer came along and bought 'coin x' at $1.20 the price of coin X would fall to $1.20 and the marketcap of 'coin x' would be $12.0.
- This still does not mean there is $12 of fiat stored in coin x.
- This does not mean everyone can sell 'coin x' at $1.20.
- A new buyer blind to the purely speculative nature of 'coin x' looking at the trend charts could try to argue it is now extremely undervalued and a great buy or possibly was a grand scam and untouchable.
- Either way the next price at which 'coin x' is bought/sold is purely arbitrary and determined by the patience of the seller and the impatience of the buyer.
- [Edit]: I could also issue 10 more of 'coin x' and if it's unit price remained $1.20 the market cap would instantly double from $12 to $24!
I'd like to point out the similarities between ZCash and 'coin x' (especially during it's launch).
- Marketcap is derived from the price, not the other way around. Until a cryptocurrency generates significant revenue independent of it's speculative valuation this will remain the case.
- Price is determined by the day traders, not by the holders.
- The spot price of any given cryptocurrency is determined by the patience of the seller and the impatience of the buyer.
- Price of most cryptocurrencies is derived from bitcoin unless they have a direct fiat gateway. Unless a significant amount of trading volume occurs via the fiat gateway, the price of that cryptocurrency is still heavily dependent on the price of bitcoin.
- Bitcoin is (for now) is the gold standard of cryptocurrencies. Because it has the largest marketcap (by a very massive margin).
- Market manipulation means that large holders in more valuable currencies (large marketcaps) can tamper with and set the value of much smaller currencies (i.e. smaller marketcaps).
- Bitcoin's price itself can be manipulated by investment banks, governments or firms who trade in multi billions of USD daily. This is because the daily trading volume is almost 5 trillion trillion USD (which is several thousand times larger
- There is nothing wrong with investing or trading in cryptocurrencies with low daily trading volumes and marketcaps, just be concious not to put more money into them than their long term buy support can handle and only invest what you can afford to lose.
- The concept of liquidity in a market is important relative to the amount of fiat you are planning to invest or trade in it.
- Whether day trading or investing, pick cryptocurrencies with good fundamentals i.e. excellent development teams, good marketing and strong value propositions that will provide the cryptocurrency in question use and value independent of speculative valuations. You are less likely to get manipulated or scammed in the long run that way especially if you are a holder.
- Be very weary of trading or investing small amounts of money in larger markets that allow leveraged trading. Those markets will behave irrationally and not follow the fundamentals in the short term.
- It is up to you to study the depth charts, order books, candle bar charts, daily trading volumes and news cycle to discern the patterns. The price is a composite of this and the psychology of people who don't understand this. You will learn more about day trading this way and more importantly learn to trade/invest independent of the price.
- Coin market capitalisations and data including rich lists derived from:
1. Coinmarketcap rankings: https://coinmarketcap.com/all/views/all/ 2. Coinmarketcap daily trading volumes https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/volume/24-hou 3. Bitinfocharts - Top 100 Richest Bitcoin addresses: https://bitinfocharts.com/top-100-richest-bitcoin-addresses.html 4. Crypto ID - Shadowcash Rich list: https://chainz.cryptoid.info/sdc/#!rich
... Further articles in this series: "The intelligent investors guide to cryptocurrency"
Part 0 -
Part 1 -
Part 2 -
Part 3a -
Part 3b -
Part 4 -
Part 5 -
Part 6 -
Part 7a - "The intelligent investors guide to Particl -" Full disclosure/Disclaimer:
At time of original writing I had long positions in Ethereum (ETH), Shadowcash (SDC), Iconomi (ICN), Augur (REP) and Digix (DGD). All the opinions expressed are my own.
I cannot guarantee gains; losses are sustainable; do your own financial research and make your decisions responsibly. All prices and values given are as of time of first writing (Midday 8th-Jan-2017). Second disclaimer: Please do not buy Shadowcash (SDC), the project has been abandoned by it's developers who have moved on to the Particl Project (PART). The PARTICL crowd fund and SDC 1:1 token swap completed April 15th. You can still exchange SDC for PART but only if it was acquired prior to 15th April 2017 see: https://particl.news/a-community-driven-initiative-e26724100c3a for more information. Addendum:
Article updated 23-11-2017 to edit references to SDC (changed to Particl where relevant to reflect updated status) and clean up formatting.
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