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I paid $1000 for an Adam Khoo investing course so you don't have to! (Summarized in post)
Lesson one is "stock basics" summarized: (2 videos) for every buyer there's a seller, for every seller there's a buyer, fear and greed drives prices, what fundamental analysis means, what technical analysis means. lesson 2 is ETFs summarized: (video 1) Bull markets are opportunities, bear markets are bigger opportunity's, Bear markets never last, always followed by bull market. (video 2) The market is volatile in the short term in the long term it always goes up, what an ETF is, different types of ETF indexes. (video 3) Expands on the different types of ETFs (bonds, commodities etc). (video 3) A 35min video on dollar cost averaging lol. (Video 5) summarizing the last 4 videos. Lesson 3 is Steps to investing summarized: (video 1) A good business increases value over time, a valuable business has higher sales, earnings and cashflow. (video 2) invest in businesses that are undervalued or fairly valued, stocks trade below its value because investors have negative perception of the company lesson 4 Financials summarized (all 4 videos) where to find financials, how to use a website (Morning Star) to screen stocks, how good is the company at making money, Look for companies that have growing revenue, check growth profit margin and net profit margin of company compared to industry. Lesson 5 Stock Valuation summarized (2 videos) go here: https://tradebrains.in/dcf-calculato and look at what the calculator is asking for, go to Morning Star find the needed numbers that are required, bam you got the intrinsic vale. Lesson 6 Technical Analysis summarized: (all 4 videos) What are candles sticks, what do they mean, support and ceilings, consolidation levels. Lesson 7 The 7 step formula summarized: (3 videos) See what I wrote in lesson 3 and lesson 5. lesson 8 Winning portfolio summarized summarized: (video 1) Diversify, keep portfolio balanced, different sectors (video 2) More sectors, Dividends (video 3) More on sectors, more on dividends, what are different stock caps (large cap, small cap etc) Lesson 9 finding opportunities summarized: (video 1) see lesson 3, (video 2) creating a watch list,monitor news, company announcements, stock price, financials Lesson 10 psychology of success summarized: (2 videos) basically: common sense. Lesson 11 Finding a broker summarized: (1 video) look at fees and commissions, see minimum deposit, check margin rates, make sure it has a good trading platform. I just saved you 18 hours and $1000.
tldr; I'm an algorithmic cryptocurrency trader with my own cross-exchange trading platform that is performing well(ish) and I'm looking for ideas, partners, investors etc to help me push it forward. I've been trading cryptocurrencies programmatically since 2016 with some success. For about a year I made a modest living executing arbitrage trades across mostly fiat pairs using a bot hurredly hacked together in my spare time. As time went on the margins got lower and lower and eventually I turned the system off as it just wasn't profitable enough. I wasn't sure what to do, so I went back to my career in finance while I considered my options. Skip to the present day and I have rebuilt everything from scratch. I now have a cloud hosted (GCP), fully functional trading platform and have some new algos that are running unsupervised 24x7. The platform is far from finished of course, and like all non-trivial solutions to non-trivial problems: it has bugs, both scaling and performance problems and has a number of unfinished features. However, it does work, and cruically: it's stable, performant and reliable. In the past 12 months it has traded over $4m (roughly 40,000 executed orders and 100,000 fill events), and 99.9% of these orders are generated by my algos. I don't do arbitrage any more, though I may resurrect that algo as my exchange fees come down. My new algos are a little more sophisticated and they seem to reliably make a small profit (between 0.1% and 0.4%). I have a number of ideas cooking away for more algos, I'm just finding it difficult to manage my time. Both the platform and the algos need a lot of work and I only have one pair of hands. I'm actively trading on 18 exchanges and adding a new one roughly every couple of weeks. The system records and reports every order, trade, balance change, transfer, fee etc in real time using the APIs offered by each exchange. Each new exchange presents a new set of problems. Some are easy to integrate and have fairly sensible APIs, but some definitely do not. Some exchanges have helpful support, some defiantly do not. Some of the APIs change over time, some do not (although sometimes I wish they would). The more exchanges I add the more difficult it is to keep the system behaving in an rational manner. Some exchanges are so bad, though a combination of API and support, that I've had to blacklist them. With every exchange so far, and for varying reasons, I've had to implement both the streaming (websocket / fix) AND REST APIs in order to get a working solution. Exchanges don't typically do a great job with their APIs - some are astonishingly poor IMO, and have been for years. Some reputable exchanges do completely miss some really quite basic features. Some are internally inconsistent with things like error reporting. They all report fees differently and the way they charge fees varies greatly (some don't report the trade fees at all). Each exchange of course has it's own symbols for currencies and markets, and they also change over time (typically as a result of forked blockchains: BCC -> BCH -> BCHABC...). Some use different symbols between their own REST and websocket APIs. It's not uncommon for exchanges to delist markets, but surprisingly common for them it ignore the impact on users when they do so. It's also not uncommon for exchanges to delete your old orders after they close, but some exchanges will delete your trade data too after a relatively short period of time (good luck doing your tax returns). They all employ different strategies for rate limiting. Some have helpful metadata API calls, but most don't. And of course the API docs are often either missing, misleading or blatantly incorrect. Exchanges will routinely close markets, or suspend deposits and/or withdrawals of a certain currency (which has a huge impact on prices). The good ones with have API calls that reports this data, but there are very few good ones. I could go on but you get the picture. My application currently trades around 50-100k USD per day, and I'm planning/hoping to scale this up to 1m USD per day in a year from now. At any one moment it's managing about 100 to 300 concurrent open orders. The order management and trade reporting is the thing I've probably spent most time on. Having an accurate and timely order management system is vital to any trading system. My order sizes are relatively small and I have a pretty solid risk management system that prevents the algos from going crazy and building up large unwanted exposures. Having said that, the number of things that can go wrong is large, and when things do go wrong they tend to go VERY wrong VERY quickly... usually while I'm out walking the dog. I measure and record pretty much every aspect of the system so that I know when and where the time is being spent. Auditing is key. My system isn't what you'd call lightning fast right now. I don't think you would want to use it for high frequency trading. But I firmly believe that knowing where the time is being spent is over half the battle, so that's what I'm focusing on right now. Reducing latency and increasing throughput are always in the back of my mind, and although I've never intentionally designed the system to be fast, I make sure not to do anything that would needlessly slow it down. The platform itself is built on asynchronous messaging. It is backed by a cloud hosted SQL database and (apart from the database) all components have redundancy. It's running on a hand made cluster of 12 low cost servers, but much of the workload is distributed to cloud functions. It costs me a few hundred USD per month but as I scale up I expect that to scale up accordingly. I have a fairly basic front end (I'm not a UI person at all) built in react and firebase that I use to monitor and report the state of the system. It needs A LOT of work, but functionally it does what I need right now. I can see my orders, trades, portfolio, transfers etc in real time and I can browse and chart the market data that the system is collecting. One feature it has that I am very pleased with is the trade entry form for manual trading (its surprisingly nuanced). I only trade on spot markets right now, so other markets (derivates, lending etc) are not supported. Until I have an idea for a algo that trades in these markets I won't be adding them. And currently I only trade on the old fashioned, centralised exchanges. I'm writing this because I'm looking for ideas, partners, investors or even customers. I think the system has value, and it's time to move to the next level, whatever that may be. If you have an idea for an algo, adding them to the system is trivial now and if we could work out some sort of profit sharing I'd be keen to discuss it (and happy to sign an NDA of course). Feel free to reach out to me privately if you want to discuss anything.
Richard Dobatse, a Navy medic in San Diego, dabbled infrequently in stock trading. But his behavior changed in 2017 when he signed up for Robinhood, a trading app that made buying and selling stocks simple and seemingly free. Mr. Dobatse, now 32, said he had been charmed by Robinhood’s one-click trading, easy access to complex investment products, and features like falling confetti and emoji-filled phone notifications that made it feel like a game. After funding his account with $15,000 in credit card advances, he began spending more time on the app. As he repeatedly lost money, Mr. Dobatse took out two $30,000 home equity loans so he could buy and sell more speculative stocks and options, hoping to pay off his debts. His account value shot above $1 million this year — but almost all of that recently disappeared. This week, his balance was $6,956. “When he is doing his trading, he won’t want to eat,” said his wife, Tashika Dobatse, with whom he has three children. “He would have nightmares.” Millions of young Americans have begun investing in recent years through Robinhood, which was founded in 2013 with a sales pitch of no trading fees or account minimums. The ease of trading has turned it into a cultural phenomenon and a Silicon Valley darling, with the start-up climbing to an $8.3 billion valuation. It has been one of the tech industry’s biggest growth stories in the recent market turmoil. But at least part of Robinhood’s success appears to have been built on a Silicon Valley playbook of behavioral nudges and push notifications, which has drawn inexperienced investors into the riskiest trading, according to an analysis of industry data and legal filings, as well as interviews with nine current and former Robinhood employees and more than a dozen customers. And the more that customers engaged in such behavior, the better it was for the company, the data shows. Thanks for reading The Times. Subscribe to The Times More than at any other retail brokerage firm, Robinhood’s users trade the riskiest products and at the fastest pace, according to an analysis of new filings from nine brokerage firms by the research firm Alphacution for The New York Times. In the first three months of 2020, Robinhood users traded nine times as many shares as E-Trade customers, and 40 times as many shares as Charles Schwab customers, per dollar in the average customer account in the most recent quarter. They also bought and sold 88 times as many risky options contracts as Schwab customers, relative to the average account size, according to the analysis. The more often small investors trade stocks, the worse their returns are likely to be, studies have shown. The returns are even worse when they get involved with options, research has found. This kind of trading, where a few minutes can mean the difference between winning and losing, was particularly hazardous on Robinhood because the firm has experienced an unusual number of technology issues, public records show. Some Robinhood employees, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, said the company failed to provide adequate guardrails and technology to support its customers. Those dangers came into focus last month when Alex Kearns, 20, a college student in Nebraska, killed himself after he logged into the app and saw that his balance had dropped to negative $730,000. The figure was high partly because of some incomplete trades. “There was no intention to be assigned this much and take this much risk,” Mr. Kearns wrote in his suicide note, which a family member posted on Twitter. Like Mr. Kearns, Robinhood’s average customer is young and lacks investing know-how. The average age is 31, the company said, and half of its customers had never invested before. Some have visited Robinhood’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., in recent years to confront the staff about their losses, said four employees who witnessed the incidents. This year, they said, the start-up installed bulletproof glass at the front entrance. “They encourage people to go from training wheels to driving motorcycles,” Scott Smith, who tracks brokerage firms at the financial consulting firm Cerulli, said of Robinhood. “Over the long term, it’s like trying to beat the casino.” At the core of Robinhood’s business is an incentive to encourage more trading. It does not charge fees for trading, but it is still paid more if its customers trade more. That’s because it makes money through a complex practice known as “payment for order flow.” Each time a Robinhood customer trades, Wall Street firms actually buy or sell the shares and determine what price the customer gets. These firms pay Robinhood for the right to do this, because they then engage in a form of arbitrage by trying to buy or sell the stock for a profit over what they give the Robinhood customer. This practice is not new, and retail brokers such as E-Trade and Schwab also do it. But Robinhood makes significantly more than they do for each stock share and options contract sent to the professional trading firms, the filings show. For each share of stock traded, Robinhood made four to 15 times more than Schwab in the most recent quarter, according to the filings. In total, Robinhood got $18,955 from the trading firms for every dollar in the average customer account, while Schwab made $195, the Alphacution analysis shows. Industry experts said this was most likely because the trading firms believed they could score the easiest profits from Robinhood customers. Vlad Tenev, a founder and co-chief executive of Robinhood, said in an interview that even with some of its customers losing money, young Americans risked greater losses by not investing in stocks at all. Not participating in the markets “ultimately contributed to the sort of the massive inequalities that we’re seeing in society,” he said. Mr. Tenev said only 12 percent of the traders active on Robinhood each month used options, which allow people to bet on where the price of a specific stock will be on a specific day and multiply that by 100. He said the company had added educational content on how to invest safely. He declined to comment on why Robinhood makes more than its competitors from the Wall Street firms. The company also declined to comment on Mr. Dobatse or provide data on its customers’ performance. Robinhood does not force people to trade, of course. But its success at getting them do so has been highlighted internally. In June, the actor Ashton Kutcher, who has invested in Robinhood, attended one of the company’s weekly staff meetings on Zoom and celebrated its success by comparing it to gambling websites, said three people who were on the call. Mr. Kutcher said in a statement that his comment “was not intended to be a comparison of business models nor the experience Robinhood provides its customers” and that it referred “to the current growth metrics.” He added that he was “absolutely not insinuating that Robinhood was a gambling platform.” ImageRobinhood’s co-founders and co-chief executives, Baiju Bhatt, left, and Vlad Tenev, created the company to make investing accessible to everyone. Robinhood’s co-founders and co-chief executives, Baiju Bhatt, left, and Vlad Tenev, created the company to make investing accessible to everyone.Credit...via Reuters Robinhood was founded by Mr. Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, two children of immigrants who met at Stanford University in 2005. After teaming up on several ventures, including a high-speed trading firm, they were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement to create a company that would make finance more accessible, they said. They named the start-up Robinhood after the English outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Robinhood eliminated trading fees while most brokerage firms charged $10 or more for a trade. It also added features to make investing more like a game. New members were given a free share of stock, but only after they scratched off images that looked like a lottery ticket. The app is simple to use. The home screen has a list of trendy stocks. If a customer touches one of them, a green button pops up with the word “trade,” skipping many of the steps that other firms require. Robinhood initially offered only stock trading. Over time, it added options trading and margin loans, which make it possible to turbocharge investment gains — and to supersize losses. The app advertises options with the tagline “quick, straightforward & free.” Customers who want to trade options answer just a few multiple-choice questions. Beginners are legally barred from trading options, but those who click that they have no investing experience are coached by the app on how to change the answer to “not much” experience. Then people can immediately begin trading. Before Robinhood added options trading in 2017, Mr. Bhatt scoffed at the idea that the company was letting investors take uninformed risks. “The best thing we can say to those people is ‘Just do it,’” he told Business Insider at the time. In May, Robinhood said it had 13 million accounts, up from 10 million at the end of 2019. Schwab said it had 12.7 million brokerage accounts in its latest filings; E-Trade reported 5.5 million. That growth has kept the money flowing in from venture capitalists. Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates are among those that have poured $1.3 billion into Robinhood. In May, the company received a fresh $280 million. “Robinhood has made the financial markets accessible to the masses and, in turn, revolutionized the decades-old brokerage industry,” Andrew Reed, a partner at Sequoia, said after last month’s fund-raising. Image Robinhood shows users that its options trading is free of commissions. Robinhood shows users that its options trading is free of commissions. Mr. Tenev has said Robinhood has invested in the best technology in the industry. But the risks of trading through the app have been compounded by its tech glitches. In 2018, Robinhood released software that accidentally reversed the direction of options trades, giving customers the opposite outcome from what they expected. Last year, it mistakenly allowed people to borrow infinite money to multiply their bets, leading to some enormous gains and losses. Robinhood’s website has also gone down more often than those of its rivals — 47 times since March for Robinhood and 10 times for Schwab — according to a Times analysis of data from Downdetector.com, which tracks website reliability. In March, the site was down for almost two days, just as stock prices were gyrating because of the coronavirus pandemic. Robinhood’s customers were unable to make trades to blunt the damage to their accounts. Four Robinhood employees, who declined to be identified, said the outage was rooted in issues with the company’s phone app and servers. They said the start-up had underinvested in technology and moved too quickly rather than carefully. Mr. Tenev said he could not talk about the outage beyond a company blog post that said it was “not acceptable.” Robinhood had recently made new technology investments, he said. Plaintiffs who have sued over the outage said Robinhood had done little to respond to their losses. Unlike other brokers, the company has no phone number for customers to call. Mr. Dobatse suffered his biggest losses in the March outage — $860,000, his records show. Robinhood did not respond to his emails, he said, adding that he planned to take his case to financial regulators for arbitration. “They make it so easy for people that don’t know anything about stocks,” he said. “Then you go there and you start to lose money.”
The dollar standard and how the Fed itself created the perfect setup for a stock market crash
Disclaimer: This is neither financial nor trading advice and everyone should trade based on their own risk tolerance. Please leverage yourself accordingly. When you're done, ask yourself: "Am I jacked to the tits?". If the answer is "yes", you're good to go. We're probably experiencing the wildest markets in our lifetime. After doing some research and listening to opinions by several people, I wanted to share my own view on what happened in the market and what could happen in the future. There's no guarantee that the future plays out as I describe it or otherwise I'd become very rich. If you just want tickers and strikes...I don't know if this is going to help you. But anyways, scroll way down to the end. My current position is TLT 171c 8/21, opened on Friday 7/31 when TLT was at 170.50. This is a post trying to describe what it means that we've entered the "dollar standard" decades ago after leaving the gold standard. Furthermore I'll try to explain how the "dollar standard" is the biggest reason behind the 2008 and 2020 financial crisis, stock market crashes and how the Coronavirus pandemic was probably the best catalyst for the global dollar system to blow up.
Tackling the Dollar problem
Throughout the month of July we've seen the "death of the Dollar". At least that's what WSB thinks. It's easy to think that especially since it gets reiterated in most media outlets. I will take the contrarian view. This is a short-term "downturn" in the Dollar and very soon the Dollar will rise a lot against the Euro - supported by the Federal Reserve itself.US dollar Index (DXY)If you zoom out to the 3Y chart you'll see what everyone is being hysterical about. The dollar is dying! It was that low in 2018! This is the end! The Fed has done too much money printing! Zimbabwe and Weimar are coming to the US. There is more to it though. The DXY is dominated by two currency rates and the most important one by far is EURUSD.EURUSD makes up 57.6% of the DXY And we've seen EURUSD rise from 1.14 to 1.18 since July 21st, 2020. Why that date? On that date the European Commission (basically the "government" of the EU) announced that there was an agreement for the historical rescue package for the EU. That showed the markets that the EU seems to be strong and resilient, it seemed to be united (we're not really united, trust me as an European) and therefore there are more chances in the EU, the Euro and more chances taking risks in the EU.Meanwhile the US continued to struggle with the Coronavirus and some states like California went back to restricting public life. The US economy looked weaker and therefore the Euro rose a lot against the USD. From a technical point of view the DXY failed to break the 97.5 resistance in June three times - DXY bulls became exhausted and sellers gained control resulting in a pretty big selloff in the DXY.
Why the DXY is pretty useless
Considering that EURUSD is the dominant force in the DXY I have to say it's pretty useless as a measurement of the US dollar. Why? Well, the economy is a global economy. Global trade is not dominated by trade between the EU and the USA. There are a lot of big exporting nations besides Germany, many of them in Asia. We know about China, Japan, South Korea etc. Depending on the business sector there are a lot of big exporters in so-called "emerging markets". For example, Brazil and India are two of the biggest exporters of beef. Now, what does that mean? It means that we need to look at the US dollar from a broader perspective. Thankfully, the Fed itself provides a more accurate Dollar index. It's called the "Trade Weighted U.S. Dollar Index: Broad, Goods and Services". When you look at that index you will see that it didn't really collapse like the DXY. In fact, it still is as high as it was on March 10, 2020! You know, only two weeks before the stock market bottomed out. How can that be explained?
Global trade, emerging markets and global dollar shortage
Emerging markets are found in countries which have been shifting away from their traditional way of living towards being an industrial nation. Of course, Americans and most of the Europeans don't know how life was 300 years ago.China already completed that transition. Countries like Brazil and India are on its way. The MSCI Emerging Market Index lists 26 countries. Even South Korea is included. However there is a big problem for Emerging Markets: the Coronavirus and US Imports.The good thing about import and export data is that you can't fake it. Those numbers speak the truth. You can see that imports into the US haven't recovered to pre-Corona levels yet. It will be interesting to see the July data coming out on August 5th.Also you can look at exports from Emerging Market economies. Let's take South Korean exports YoY. You can see that South Korean exports are still heavily depressed compared to a year ago. Global trade hasn't really recovered.For July the data still has to be updated that's why you see a "0.0%" change right now.Less US imports mean less US dollars going into foreign countries including Emerging Markets.Those currency pairs are pretty unimpressed by the rising Euro. Let's look at a few examples. Use the 1Y chart to see what I mean. Indian Rupee to USDBrazilian Real to USDSouth Korean Won to USD What do you see if you look at the 1Y chart of those currency pairs? There's no recovery to pre-COVID levels. And this is pretty bad for the global financial system. Why? According to the Bank of International Settlements there is $12.6 trillion of dollar-denominated debt outside of the United States. Now the Coronavirus comes into play where economies around the world are struggling to go back to their previous levels while the currencies of Emerging Markets continue to be WEAK against the US dollar. This is very bad. We've already seen the IMF receiving requests for emergency loans from 80 countries on March 23th. What are we going to see? We know Argentina has defaulted on their debt more than once and make jokes about it. But what happens if we see 5 Argentinas? 10? 20? Even 80? Add to that that global travel is still depressed, especially for US citizens going anywhere. US citizens traveling to other countries is also a situation in which the precious US dollars would enter Emerging Market economies. But it's not happening right now and it won't happen unless we actually get a miracle treatment or the virus simply disappears. This is where the treasury market comes into play. But before that, let's quickly look at what QE (rising Fed balance sheet) does to the USD. Take a look at the Trade-Weighted US dollar Index. Look at it at max timeframe - you'll see what happened in 2008. The dollar went up (shocker).Now let's look at the Fed balance sheet at max timeframe. You will see: as soon as the Fed starts the QE engine, the USD goes UP, not down! September 2008 (Fed first buys MBS), March 2009, March 2020. Is it just a coincidence? No, as I'll explain below. They're correlated and probably even in causation.Oh and in all of those scenarios the stock market crashed...compared to February 2020, the Fed balance sheet grew by ONE TRILLION until March 25th, but the stock market had just finished crashing...can you please prove to me that QE makes stock prices go up? I think I've just proven the opposite correlation.
Bonds, bills, Gold and "inflation"
People laugh at bond bulls or at people buying bonds due to the dropping yields. "Haha you're stupid you're buying an asset which matures in 10 years and yields 5.3% STONKS go up way more!".Let me stop you right there. Why do you buy stocks? Will you hold those stocks until you die so that you regain your initial investment through dividends? No. You buy them because you expect them to go up based on fundamental analysis, news like earnings or other things. Then you sell them when you see your price target reached. The assets appreciated.Why do you buy options? You don't want to hold them until expiration unless they're -90% (what happens most of the time in WSB). You wait until the underlying asset does what you expect it does and then you sell the options to collect the premium. Again, the assets appreciated. It's the exact same thing with treasury securities. The people who've been buying bonds for the past years or even decades didn't want to wait until they mature. Those people want to sell the bonds as they appreciate. Bond prices have an inverse relationship with their yields which is logical when you think about it. Someone who desperately wants and needs the bonds for various reasons will accept to pay a higher price (supply and demand, ya know) and therefore accept a lower yield. By the way, both JP Morgan and Goldmans Sachs posted an unexpected profit this quarter, why? They made a killing trading bonds. US treasury securities are the most liquid asset in the world and they're also the safest asset you can hold. After all, if the US default on their debt you know that the world is doomed. So if US treasuries become worthless anything else has already become worthless. Now why is there so much demand for the safest and most liquid asset in the world? That demand isn't new but it's caused by the situation the global economy is in. Trade and travel are down and probably won't recover anytime soon, emerging markets are struggling both with the virus and their dollar-denominated debt and central banks around the world struggle to find solutions for the problems in the financial markets. How do we now that the markets aren't trusting central banks? Well, bonds tell us that and actually Gold tells us the same! TLT chartGold spot price chart TLT is an ETF which reflects the price of US treasuries with 20 or more years left until maturity. Basically the inverse of the 30 year treasury yield. As you can see from the 5Y chart bonds haven't been doing much from 2016 to mid-2019. Then the repo crisis of September 2019took place and TLT actually rallied in August 2019 before the repo crisis finally occurred!So the bond market signaled that something is wrong in the financial markets and that "something" manifested itself in the repo crisis. After the repo market crisis ended (the Fed didn't really do much to help it, before you ask), bonds again were quiet for three months and started rallying in January (!) while most of the world was sitting on their asses and downplaying the Coronavirus threat. But wait, how does Gold come into play? The Gold chart basically follows the same pattern as the TLT chart. Doing basically nothing from 2016 to mid-2019. From June until August Gold rose a staggering 200 dollars and then again stayed flat until December 2019. After that, Gold had another rally until March when it finally collapsed. Many people think rising Gold prices are a sign of inflation. But where is the inflation? We saw PCE price indices on Friday July 31st and they're at roughly 1%. We've seen CPIs from European countries and the EU itself. France and the EU (July 31st) as a whole had a very slight uptick in CPI while Germany (July 30th), Italy (July 31st) and Spain (July 30th) saw deflationary prints.There is no inflation, nowhere in the world. I'm sorry to burst that bubble. Yet, Gold prices still go up even when the Dollar rallies through the DXY (sadly I have to measure it that way now since the trade-weighted index isn't updated daily) and we know that there is no inflation from a monetary perspective. In fact, Fed chairman JPow, apparently the final boss for all bears, said on Wednesday July 29th that the Coronavirus pandemic is a deflationarydisinflationary event. Someone correct me there, thank you. But deflationary forces are still in place even if JPow wouldn't admit it. To conclude this rather long section: Both bonds and Gold are indicators for an upcoming financial crisis. Bond prices should fall and yields should go up to signal an economic recovery. But the opposite is happening. in that regard heavily rising Gold prices are a very bad signal for the future. Both bonds and Gold are screaming: "The central banks haven't solved the problems". By the way, Gold is also a very liquid asset if you want quick cash, that's why we saw it sell off in March because people needed dollars thanks to repo problems and margin calls.When the deflationary shock happens and another liquidity event occurs there will be another big price drop in precious metals and that's the dip which you could use to load up on metals by the way.
Dismantling the money printer
But the Fed! The M2 money stock is SHOOTING THROUGH THE ROOF! The printers are real!By the way, velocity of M2 was updated on July 30th and saw another sharp decline. If you take a closer look at the M2 stock you see three parts absolutely skyrocketing: savings, demand deposits and institutional money funds. Inflationary? No. So, the printers aren't real. I'm sorry.Quantitative easing (QE) is the biggest part of the Fed's operations to help the economy get back on its feet. What is QE?Upon doing QE the Fed "purchases" treasury and mortgage-backed securities from the commercial banks. The Fed forces the commercial banks to hand over those securities and in return the commercial banks reserve additional bank reserves at an account in the Federal Reserve. This may sound very confusing to everyone so let's make it simple by an analogy.I want to borrow a camera from you, I need it for my road trip. You agree but only if I give you some kind of security - for example 100 bucks as collateral.You keep the 100 bucks safe in your house and wait for me to return safely. You just wait and wait. You can't do anything else in this situation. Maybe my road trip takes a year. Maybe I come back earlier. But as long as I have your camera, the 100 bucks need to stay with you. In this analogy, I am the Fed. You = commercial banks. Camera = treasuries/MBS. 100 bucks = additional bank reserves held at the Fed.
Revisiting 2008 briefly: the true money printers
The true money printers are the commercial banks, not the central banks. The commercial banks give out loans and demand interest payments. Through those interest payments they create money out of thin air! At the end they'll have more money than before giving out the loan. That additional money can be used to give out more loans, buy more treasury/MBS Securities or gain more money through investing and trading. Before the global financial crisis commercial banks were really loose with their policy. You know, the whole "Big Short" story, housing bubble, NINJA loans and so on. The reckless handling of money by the commercial banks led to actual money printing and inflation, until the music suddenly stopped. Bear Stearns went tits up. Lehman went tits up. The banks learned from those years and completely changed, forever. They became very strict with their lending resulting in the Fed and the ECB not being able to raise their rates. By keeping the Fed funds rate low the Federal Reserve wants to encourage commercial banks to give out loans to stimulate the economy. But commercial banks are not playing along. They even accept negative rates in Europe rather than taking risks in the actual economy. The GFC of 2008 completely changed the financial landscape and the central banks have struggled to understand that. The system wasn't working anymore because the main players (the commercial banks) stopped playing with each other. That's also the reason why we see repeated problems in the repo market.
How QE actually decreases liquidity before it's effective
The funny thing about QE is that it achieves the complete opposite of what it's supposed to achieve before actually leading to an economic recovery. What does that mean? Let's go back to my analogy with the camera. Before I take away your camera, you can do several things with it. If you need cash, you can sell it or go to a pawn shop. You can even lend your camera to someone for a daily fee and collect money through that.But then I come along and just take away your camera for a road trip for 100 bucks in collateral. What can you do with those 100 bucks? Basically nothing. You can't buy something else with those. You can't lend the money to someone else. It's basically dead capital. You can just look at it and wait until I come back. And this is what is happening with QE. Commercial banks buy treasuries and MBS due to many reasons, of course they're legally obliged to hold some treasuries, but they also need them to make business.When a commercial bank has a treasury security, they can do the following things with it:- Sell it to get cash- Give out loans against the treasury security- Lend the security to a short seller who wants to short bonds Now the commercial banks received a cash reserve account at the Fed in exchange for their treasury security. What can they do with that?- Give out loans against the reserve account That's it. The bank had to give away a very liquid and flexible asset and received an illiquid asset for it. Well done, Fed. The goal of the Fed is to encourage lending and borrowing through suppressing yields via QE. But it's not happening and we can see that in the H.8 data (assets and liabilities of the commercial banks).There is no recovery to be seen in the credit sector while the commercial banks continue to collect treasury securities and MBS. On one hand, they need to sell a portion of them to the Fed on the other hand they profit off those securities by trading them - remember JPM's earnings. So we see that while the Fed is actually decreasing liquidity in the markets by collecting all the treasuries it has collected in the past, interest rates are still too high. People are scared, and commercial banks don't want to give out loans. This means that as the economic recovery is stalling (another whopping 1.4M jobless claims on Thursday July 30th) the Fed needs to suppress interest rates even more. That means: more QE. that means: the liquidity dries up even more, thanks to the Fed. We heard JPow saying on Wednesday that the Fed will keep their minimum of 120 billion QE per month, but, and this is important, they can increase that amount anytime they see an emergency.And that's exactly what he will do. He will ramp up the QE machine again, removing more bond supply from the market and therefore decreasing the liquidity in financial markets even more. That's his Hail Mary play to force Americans back to taking on debt again.All of that while the government is taking on record debt due to "stimulus" (which is apparently only going to Apple, Amazon and Robinhood). Who pays for the government debt? The taxpayers. The wealthy people. The people who create jobs and opportunities. But in the future they have to pay more taxes to pay down the government debt (or at least pay for the interest). This means that they can't create opportunities right now due to the government going insane with their debt - and of course, there's still the Coronavirus.
"Without the Fed, yields would skyrocket"
This is wrong. The Fed has been keeping their basic level QE of 120 billion per month for months now. But ignoring the fake breakout in the beginning of June (thanks to reopening hopes), yields have been on a steady decline. Let's take a look at the Fed's balance sheet. The Fed has thankfully stayed away from purchasing more treasury bills (short term treasury securities). Bills are important for the repo market as collateral. They're the best collateral you can have and the Fed has already done enough damage by buying those treasury bills in March, destroying even more liquidity than usual. More interesting is the point "notes and bonds, nominal". The Fed added 13.691 billion worth of US treasury notes and bonds to their balance sheet. Luckily for us, the US Department of Treasury releases the results of treasury auctions when they occur. On July 28th there was an auction for the 7 year treasury note. You can find the results under "Note -> Term: 7-year -> Auction Date 07/28/2020 -> Competitive Results PDF". Or here's a link. What do we see? Indirect bidders, which are foreigners by the way, took 28 billion out of the total 44 billion. That's roughly 64% of the entire auction. Primary dealers are the ones which sell the securities to the commercial banks. Direct bidders are domestic buyers of treasuries. The conclusion is: There's insane demand for US treasury notes and bonds by foreigners. Those US treasuries are basically equivalent to US dollars. Now dollar bears should ask themselves this question: If the dollar is close to a collapse and the world wants to get rid fo the US dollar, why do foreigners (i.e. foreign central banks) continue to take 60-70% of every bond auction? They do it because they desperately need dollars and hope to drive prices up, supported by the Federal Reserve itself, in an attempt to have the dollar reserves when the next liquidity event occurs. So foreigners are buying way more treasuries than the Fed does. Final conclusion: the bond market has adjusted to the Fed being a player long time ago. It isn't the first time the Fed has messed around in the bond market.
How market participants are positioned
We know that commercial banks made good money trading bonds and stocks in the past quarter. Besides big tech the stock market is being stagnant, plain and simple. All the stimulus, stimulus#2, vaccinetalksgoingwell.exe, public appearances by Trump, Powell and their friends, the "money printing" (which isn't money printing) by the Fed couldn't push SPY back to ATH which is 339.08 btw. Who can we look at? Several people but let's take Bill Ackman. The one who made a killing with Credit Default Swaps in March and then went LONG (he said it live on TV). Well, there's an update about him:Bill Ackman saying he's effectively 100% longHe says that around the 2 minute mark. Of course, we shouldn't just believe what he says. After all he is a hedge fund manager and wants to make money. But we have to assume that he's long at a significant percentage - it doesn't even make sense to get rid of positions like Hilton when they haven't even recovered yet. Then again, there are sources to get a peek into the positions of hedge funds, let's take Hedgopia.We see: Hedge funds are starting to go long on the 10 year bond. They are very short the 30 year bond. They are very long the Euro, very short on VIX futures and short on the Dollar.
This is the perfect setup for a market meltdown. If hedge funds are really positioned like Ackman and Hedgopia describes, the situation could unwind after a liquidity event:The Fed increases QE to bring down the 30 year yield because the economy isn't recovering yet. We've already seen the correlation of QE and USD and QE and bond prices.That causes a giant short squeeze of hedge funds who are very short the 30 year bond. They need to cover their short positions. But Ackman said they're basically 100% long the stock market and nothing else. So what do they do? They need to sell stocks. Quickly. And what happens when there is a rapid sell-off in stocks? People start to hedge via put options. The VIX rises. But wait, hedge funds are short VIX futures, long Euro and short DXY. To cover their short positions on VIX futures, they need to go long there. VIX continues to go up and the prices of options go suborbital (as far as I can see).Also they need to get rid of Euro futures and cover their short DXY positions. That causes the USD to go up even more. And the Fed will sit there and do their things again: more QE, infinity QE^2, dollar swap lines, repo operations, TARP and whatever. The Fed will be helpless against the forces of the market and have to watch the stock market burn down and they won't even realize that they created the circumstances for it to happen - by their programs to "help the economy" and their talking on TV. Do you remember JPow on 60minutes talking about how they flooded the world with dollars and print it digitally? He wanted us poor people to believe that the Fed is causing hyperinflation and we should take on debt and invest into the stock market. After all, the Fed has it covered. But the Fed hasn't got it covered. And Powell knows it. That's why he's being a bear in the FOMC statements. He knows what's going on. But he can't do anything about it except what's apparently proven to be correct - QE, QE and more QE.
A final note about "stock market is not the economy"
It's true. The stock market doesn't reflect the current state of the economy. The current economy is in complete shambles. But a wise man told me that the stock market is the reflection of the first and second derivatives of the economy. That means: velocity and acceleration of the economy. In retrospect this makes sense. The economy was basically halted all around the world in March. Of course it's easy to have an insane acceleration of the economy when the economy is at 0 and the stock market reflected that. The peak of that accelerating economy ("max velocity" if you want to look at it like that) was in the beginning of June. All countries were reopening, vaccine hopes, JPow injecting confidence into the markets. Since then, SPY is stagnant, IWM/RUT, which is probably the most accurate reflection of the actual economy, has slightly gone down and people have bid up tech stocks in absolute panic mode. Even JPow admitted it. The economic recovery has slowed down and if we look at economic data, the recovery has already stopped completely. The economy is rolling over as we can see in the continued high initial unemployment claims. Another fact to factor into the stock market.
TLDR and positions or ban?
TLDR: global economy bad and dollar shortage. economy not recovering, JPow back to doing QE Infinity. QE Infinity will cause the final squeeze in both the bond and stock market and will force the unwinding of the whole system. Positions: idk. I'll throw in TLT 190c 12/18, SPY 220p 12/18, UUP 26c 12/18.That UUP call had 12.5k volume on Friday 7/31 btw.
Edit about positions and hedge funds
My current positions. You can laugh at my ZEN calls I completely failed with those.I personally will be entering one of the positions mentioned in the end - or similar ones. My personal opinion is that the SPY puts are the weakest try because you have to pay a lot of premium. Also I forgot talking about why hedge funds are shorting the 30 year bond. Someone asked me in the comments and here's my reply: "If you look at treasury yields and stock prices they're pretty much positively correlated. Yields go up, then stocks go up. Yields go down (like in March), then stocks go down. What hedge funds are doing is extremely risky but then again, "hedge funds" is just a name and the hedgies are known for doing extremely risky stuff. They're shorting the 30 year bond because they needs 30y yields to go UP to validate their long positions in the equity market. 30y yields going up means that people are welcoming risk again, taking on debt, spending in the economy. Milton Friedman labeled this the "interest rate fallacy". People usually think that low interest rates mean "easy money" but it's the opposite. Low interest rates mean that money is really tight and hard to get. Rising interest rates on the other hand signal an economic recovery, an increase in economic activity. So hedge funds try to fight the Fed - the Fed is buying the 30 year bonds! - to try to validate their stock market positions. They also short VIX futures to do the same thing. Equity bulls don't want to see VIX higher than 15. They're also short the dollar because it would also validate their position: if the economic recovery happens and the global US dollar cycle gets restored then it will be easy to get dollars and the USD will continue to go down. Then again, they're also fighting against the Fed in this situation because QE and the USD are correlated in my opinion. Another Redditor told me that people who shorted Japanese government bonds completely blew up because the Japanese central bank bought the bonds and the "widow maker trade" was born:https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/widow-maker.asp"
Since I've mentioned him a lot in the comments, I recommend you check out Steven van Metre's YouTube channel. Especially the bottom passages of my post are based on the knowledge I received from watching his videos. Even if didn't agree with him on the fundamental issues (there are some things like Gold which I view differently than him) I took it as an inspiration to dig deeper. I think he's a great person and even if you're bullish on stocks you can learn something from Steven!
What is yield farming? Most broadly, it means getting some benefit for providing capital, usually in the form of tokens. Currently, there are three major different schemes:
Staked funds aren't utilized in any way and tokens are distributed proportionally to what's staked (may be dai, weth, ycrv, or other tokens). Token price risk: zero. Token accrues, but even if it falls to zero you lose nothing. Smart contract/protocol risk: depends on the staking contract, usually low to zero. Contracts are usually simple modification of the first contract used by yearn (taken from synthetix), making analysis easy by only looking for differences. APR: may start high, but usually collapses fast to relatively low values as funds pour in.
Providing liquidity in trading pools. Tokens are gained in return for providing liquidity for requested tokens on uniswap, balancer, curve, mooniswap. Token price risk: medium to high, depends on pool weights. See these two articles for details on how liquidity providing works: Uniswap - pool weight is always 50%/50% Balancer - arbitrary pool weights, down to 2% for one token. Can be multitoken, not just two. Smart contract security risk: medium to high. In addition to checking the (usually simple) staking contract, requires security analysis of the token contract. If it's possible to mint a very large amount of token, or someone has a hidden enormous stash, the attacker could clean the pool by dumping them at once. I'm aware of one scam called "YYFI" that did this - you can see the attacker successively getting DAI from the balancer pool. Fortunately for the victims, he wasn't very competent and did everything manually, giving time for people to withdraw. A more competent attacker would automate the pool cleaning process in a smart contract. APR: usually very high - upper three digits or four. It's rarely realized APR because it's calculated assuming that token price stays constant. If you think the token being distributed is undervalued definitely the best option to farm.
Depositing and borrowing funds for defi. Currently utilized by compound and cream (a compound clone). Users get rewarded with tokens for lending and borrowing tokens. Token price risk: zero. Security risk: the most complex to analyze option of all, although Compound itself is definitely the safest defi dapp on ethereum.
Warning: gas fees are high. $10k is probably the minimum amount that makes sense for active manual farming, which still only makes sense for a more long-term farms like COMP or CRV, at the cost of not maximizing APR. I have spent over $3k in gas during the last two months by farming very actively. Below $100k, or if you don't want to spend a lot of time on this, it's probably best to deposit your funds into one of yearn vaults that yield farms for users. https://yearn.finance/vaults A partial list of current yield farms (feel free to comment with more farms! I can edit and add them to this list):
COMP farming, the oldest one (I think?). Relatively low returns (58% on DAI), safe, no price risk. Efficient way to farm is to supply and borrow the same asset (can be done via instadapp) up to maximum leverage possible (with some margin for interest payments).
YFV finance, one of the many clones of YFI. The seed pool is safe IF you withdraw before the staking period ends (see the security part). Current APR on stablecoins: 121%
CRV farming, providing liquidity to curve pools. Mostly safe - curve smart contracts tself are safe, but keep in mind if one of tokens in the pool collapses (renBTC is probably the riskiest) other tokens are going to get drained. You can see the current APR on https://dao.curve.fi/mintegauges. As of now, the highest APR is for compound pool - 105.27%. It's varying and there's complicated game with CRV voting that impacts it.
Zombie, meme token. Current APR is abysmal (33.5%) but token may unexpectedly pump, increasing it. There's a smart contract bug that, as long as rewardDistribution and owner aren't set to zero, potentially allows rewardDistribution to lock all staked funds (not steal). Makes zero sense as of today.
Analyzing security. Yield farms come and go. The key to earning high returns is to be agile and to jump fast into new farms, which requires manual analysis of security. Of course it's possible to yolo in without any analysis, but I don't recommend it. I'm going to show an example on two recent farming contracts (of the first type - funds just sit in contracts). Original yearn staking contract. GRAP staking contract. Let's load two codes into a text diff tool, like this site. What interests us on the code level are changes relating to the withdrawal capability, which in the original code are limited to the withdraw() function. We can see that the only substantial change is the addition of the checkStart modifier which prevents both deposits and withdrawals if it's too early. As startime is set directly in source code and can't be modified anywhere, that change is safe - if it doesn't throw on deposit it's not going to throw on withdraw. The next step is switch to the 'read contract' tab on etherscan and look at two variables: owner and rewardDistribution. In Grap's case, they lead to a timelock contract that requires all changes to wait for at least 24.5 hours - which makes any fund lockup extremely unlikely. At worst, we only have to look at the rewardDistribution contract once a day to see if there's any pending change. GRAP farming is now finished with no security incidents. Second example: YFV. This one is still active. Contract link. After comparing them we can see that changes are much more extensive. The withdrawal function also has the checkStart modifier, but that part is fine (ctrl-f to check if starttime can be modified somewhere else - it can't). What's the problem is the checkNextEpoch modifier. There's a lot of things there and three external contract calls (mint calls). If anything in there throws, withdrawal would become impossible. Dangerous. However, that only happens after the staking period ends, so withdrawing before block.timestamp >= periodFinish is relatively safe. Another check is to look at the owner and rewardDistribution variables. Owner is set to zero, but where's rewardDistribution? Unfortunately, contrary to GRAP, it's private. It's possible to read it with the getStorageAt web3 api (although finding the index is more work - it's 3). However, the team has provided a link to the transaction in which they set rewardDistribution to 0 so it's fine. In conclusion, as long as you don't hold the funds after the locking period ended there's no security risk here. The current period ends on Tue Sep 1 14:02:29 2020, UTC.
Hey guys! It has been FOREVER since my last update and a ton has happened. Sorry for the long post, but hopefully some people appreciate a detailed dive into everything. A really really really brief recap of the past fifteen parts I started in December of 2018 with $1,165 with the goal of making $10,000 in one year. In 2019, I had bought and sold over $40k in baseball, football and various sports trading cards. I had a few great successes ($1,165 into $3,085 before fees - $2,771.20 into $6,200.10 before fees - $1,086.68 into $3,190.54 before fees) and a few duds. I generally sell my cards on ebay, but utilize auction houses every now and then. The biggest bottleneck I face is submitting cards to PSA (a third party grading company), a card might have a 2-4 month turnaround time. To successfully "flip" you need to balance some of these purchases with shorter flips. In 2019, I ended with a final profit of $9,262.28 – a tad bit short of my goal. In 2020, my goal is $20,000 (fitting). Using my margins from 2019, I would need to sell around $85k in cards. You can find the previous installment here PERSONAL UPDATE First, I hope everyone is doing well and staying sane. It has been an absolutely wild three months for me, I found out I’m going to be an uncle, I got a cat and I decided I was going to propose to my girlfriend this weekend! I have still been keeping up with this project, the prices for baseball cards have absolutely skyrocketed over the past couple months, so there hasn’t been the same amount of buying as usual. I am going insane with working from home and trying to keep my head above water with everything, but flipping has been (at times) a nice escape. I am fortunate enough to be flipping something that I am passionate about, baseball cards, so I am able to enjoy this and see a lot of neat cards along the way. In that spirit I have decided to begin keeping some cards for my personal collection as I go along. I read somewhere an interesting method of collecting, reducing your collection to 25 cards. I wanted to give it a shot with a bit of a twist, I want to keep a collection of 25 cards, but still make a profit along the way. So a couple ground rules I set for myself: * The collection is limited to vintage baseball cards (generally 1980’s and older). This was my first collecting passion and I’d like to try to keep to it.
The cards need to come from a set/lot that I turned a profit on. You won’t find me buying a single card for the sake of it and I won’t lose money on a lot because I kept the best card.
I will max out the collection at 25 cards. This doesn’t mean I won’t swap out or sell cards along the way, but I won’t ever eclipse 25 cards.
So, without further ado, here are the first four cards in this project. The 1949 Berra came from the Yogi Berra lot I bought from SCP in January. The grades finally came back last week and I did very well on a few cards, so I felt that I deserved to spoil myself a bit. The 1949 Bowman set holds a special spot in my heart for me, my best flip ever was a group of 1949 Bowman cards I purchased for $300 which included a Jackie Robinson rookie that graded PSA 8! I sold it for over $10k. This Yogi Berra card is well centered, nice registration and a great mid-grade example of a baseball icon. I love it. The Ted Williams card and the Willie Mays both came from the December Heritage lot that I had purchased. PSA took FOREVER on this order. I was a little disappointed in the overall grades, but am confident I will turn a profit. The 1956 Topps Ted Williams is such a cool card and a staple in post-war collecting. The Mays I always liked – it’s a little beat up, but the centering is near perfect and the color looks sharp. Finally, I nabbed the 1969 Yaz. This was mostly done because I love the set. 1969 Topps was the last set to feature Mickey Mantle, something that I think goes underappreciated. The set design has always been pretty crisp, it has a couple great rookies and great all-star rookie cards. I’m a fan. Anyways! None of these cards are permanent, I can sell them at any time, but I’d imagine they will be in the collection a while. Purchased
First up was something completely new to me, I purchased an entire PSA graded set to sell each card individually! At the end of May I bought this beautiful 1961 Topps Set for $5,791.60 after fees. I took a major risk on this because the auction house only showed 12 of 589 cards in the set, with the remaining essentially sight unseen. Usually, when an auction house sell a complete PSA graded set, they provide an excel sheet or link to the grades of each card. It makes a HUGE difference. For example, this set, with every card graded PSA 6 is worth approximately $8,000 the same set graded entirely PSA 7 is worth $13,000. I was hoping that this set was somewhere in the middle. Luckily it was! I sold each and every card individually (less 7-8 that they originally forgot to send and one I sent to PWCC) for $11,445.51, after fees I am going to make a little over $4k, my largest flip in this project to date. This was a ton of work. There are 589 cards in the set; scanning and listing each individually took close to 20 hours over the course of a week. Packaging the cards took another 4-6 here is a picture of the cards packaged. Luckily, with selling a set, plenty of buyers purchase multiple cards (one guy bought over 80). Overall I would definitely try it again, but probably not any time soon.
In July I bought this Aaron Judge rookie card for $1,940 after taxes and fees. The two most common questions I get are whether I ever buy single cards and whether I buy modern cards. The answer is yes, but when the price is right. This card was a steal! I am expecting to easily double my investment on this one, it has already been sent to PWCC.
Finally, I bought this group of signed cards at Lelands for $1,364.40. Many of these signatures are tough to get since the players died young. Lyman Bostock died at the age of 27 in a shooting, Nellie Fox (a Baseball Hall of Famer) died at the age of 47 from cancer and Steve Macko also at the age of 27. It’s kind of a strange and morbid auction offering. I bought the group and quickly sold the the Macko for $700, the 1965 Stengel for $225 and the 1965 Howie Reed for $195. I think the only card I would be interested in keeping from here would’ve been the Stengel, but I may hold on to one for my collection.
I FINALLY decided to list the rest of the wrappers at $.99 auction. They sold, bringing in around $1,500, led by the 1962 Fleer football wrapper. Overall, I was a little disappointed in the auction, but very happy with clearing out the inventory. Between the two wrapper lots, I made close to $2k.
I listed the last of the Huggins multi-sport group that I bought in November. Those cards came back with pretty decent grades, I consigned a few cards to PWCC, led by the Dick Butkus rookie, which sold for $1,125. With that sold, it leaves me left with just the 1951 Topps wax pack which is still with PSA. Hopefully that comes back authentic.
The B14 blankets still aren’t really moving that quickly. I sold four over the past two months. I may try to list these at auction, I’m in no rush.
I sold another one of the 1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson cards for $900. I sent the rest to PWCC.
The grades came back surprisingly quick for the 1954 Topps cards I purchased. I sold off the ungraded cards for $182.50 and the 1954 Topps Ted Williams Gray Back for $525. I essentially have broke even and still have the Hank Aaron rookie and Ernie Banks rookie to sell. Both are with PWCC.
PWCC also sold the 1973 Topps cards that I had sent them, bringing in an astonishing $4,340! It was led by the 1973 Joe Morgan, which sold for $1,185. I have cleared $3,483 on this group and still have 83 cards with PSA! This will be a great flip.
PSA Update Here is a link to the Google Doc with the status of all of my PSA cards. The spreadsheet also includes a summary of where the project is. PSA is still extremely backlogged. For this project, I have 276 items with them. Luckily I was able to get quite a few cards back from them recently! As I previously mentioned, I received back the Yogi Berra cards I sent them in January and the Heritage cards I sent in December. Overall I am happy enough with the grades. I think they were fair on the Berra cards and they were rough on the Heritage cards (they were separate orders). I already listed or consigned these cards, so I will have updates next month on these. Below is an updated summary: For items purchased in 2019 (denoted with a “*”), the “cost” column represents the ending 2019 inventory valuation. For items purchased in 2020, the cost column is the cost. In the Google Sheet I included an in-depth P&L with full results and 2019 details.
1936 Goudey Lot (8)
Hank Aaron "Odd-Ball" Collection
(16) Pre-WWII card lot w/ Cobb
(23) Sandy Koufax 1950's and 1960's lot
1977-1979 Topps Baseball Rack & Cello Packs (6)
1957 Swift Meats Game Complete Set (18)
(36) 1950s-2000s Multi-Sports Collection
1933-1989 Wax Pack Wrapper Hoard (650+)
1941-2004 Multi-Sport Group (33)
1912 B18 Blanket Find (100)
1962-63 Parkhurst Hockey Lot (45+)
1953 to 1969 Mickey Mantle Group (16)
1956-1959 Baseball Star Collection (48)
1961-1969 Baseball Star Collection (61)
1948-1965 Yogi Berra Collection (26)
Lot of (4) Signed Perez-Steele Postcards
1950's-1980's Football Wrapper Lot (42)
1953 Topps Partial Set (208)
1953-55 Dormand Postcard Set (47/52)
1959 & 1960 Venezuela Topps Lot (34)
1959 Topps Baseball High Grade Set
1970 Topps Super Proofs Lot (12)
1887 Allen & Ginter Boxing Lot (14)
1954 Topps Starter Set (119/250)
1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson Lot (6)
1934 R310 Butterfinger Ruth & Gehrig Lot (2)
1959 Topps Baseball Near Set (571/572)
1973 Topps Complete Set
1961 Topps PSA Graded Set
2013 Bowman Chrome Judge Black Wave Auto
1961-1982 Signed Card Lot (19)
*-denotes inventory purchased in 2019 valued at 2019 y/e figures. ^ -inventory on hand is valued at a conservative estimate of fair market value for remaining items. `-grading fees are expensed when the card is sent to PSA, fees are not paid until PSA has completed the order. Fees that are expensed, but not paid are sitting in Accounts Payable below. 2020 Grading Fees`: $2,944.79 Current On Hand Cash: $5,588.15 InventorySee the Google sheet ALSO! If anyone is interested in what the financials for this project would look like, see below. With 2019 officially in the book, I moved the final 2019 financial statement over for a year-over-year comparison:
As of 8/25/2020
Cost of Goods Sold
Fees (15% of Rev.)
FORECAST My goal is $20,000 profit for the year. Right now I’m $15,307.75 – PSA has dramatically slowed turnover, but I am definitely on pace to hit my goal, gross margins are up in 2020 compared to 2019 (56.1% vs. 43.8%) and net margins are also up (34.5% vs 23.1%). Sales more than doubled since the last installment and with orders finally coming back from PSA, I should continue to see steady sales. I look forward to continuing to update everyone on this. Hope you enjoy as much as I do. Jason
How to not get ruined with Options - Part 3a of 4 - Simple Strategies
Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the Greeks Post 3a: Simple Strategies Post 3b: Advanced Strategies Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals) Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges) --- Ok. So I lied. This post was getting way too long, so I had to split in two (3a and 3b) In the previous posts 1 and 2, I explained how to buy and sell options, and how their price is calculated and evolves over time depending on the share price, volatility, and days to expiration. In this post 3a (and the next 3b), I am going to explain in more detail how and when you can use multiple contracts together to create more profitable trades in various market conditions. Just a reminder of the building blocks: You expect that, by expiration, the stock price will … ... go up more than the premium you paid → Buy a call … go down more than the premium you paid → Buy a put ... not go up more than the premium you got paid → Sell a call ... not go down more than the premium you got paid → Sell a put Buying Straight Calls: But why would you buy calls to begin with? Why not just buy the underlying shares? Conversely, why would you buy puts? Why not just short the underlying shares? Let’s take long shares and long calls as an example, but this applies with puts as well. If you were to buy 100 shares of the company ABC currently trading at $20. You would have to spend $2000. Now imagine that the share price goes up to $25, you would now have $2500 worth of shares. Or a 25% profit. If you were convinced that the price would go up, you could instead buy call options ATM or OTM. For example, an ATM call with a strike of $20 might be worth $2 per share, so $200 per contract. You buy 10 contracts for $2000, so the same cost as buying 100 shares. Except that this time, if the share price hits $25 at expiration, each contract is now worth $500, and you now have $5000, for a $3000 gain, or a 150% profit. You could even have bought an OTM call with a strike of $22.50 for a lower premium and an even higher profit. But it is fairly obvious that this method of buying calls is a good way to lose money quickly. When you own shares, the price goes up and down, but as long as the company does not get bankrupt or never recovers, you will always have your shares. Sometimes you just have to be very patient for the shares to come back (buying an index ETF increases your chances there). But by buying $2000 worth of calls, if you are wrong on the direction, the amplitude, or the time, those options become worthless, and it’s a 100% loss, which rarely happens when you buy shares. Now, you could buy only one contract for $200. Except for the premium that you paid, you would have a similar profit curve as buying the shares outright. You have the advantage though that if the stock price dropped to $15, instead of losing $500 by owning the shares, you would only lose the $200 you paid for the premium. However, if you lose these $200 the first month, what about the next month? Are you going to bet $200 again, and again… You can see that buying calls outright is not scalable long term. You need a very strong conviction over a specific period of time. How to buy cheaper shares? Sell Cash Covered Put. Let’s continue on the example above with the company ABC trading at $20. You may think that it is a bit expensive, and you consider that $18 is a more acceptable price for you to own that company. You could sell a put ATM with a $20 strike, for $2. Your break-even point would be $18, i.e. you would start losing money if the share price dropped below $18. But also remember that if you did buy the shares outright, you would have lost more money in case of a price drop, because you did not get a premium to offset that loss. If the price stays above $20, your return for the month will be 11% ($200 / $1800). Note that in this example, we picked the ATM strike of $20, but you could have picked a lower strike for your short put, like an OTM strike of $17.50. Sure, the premium would be lower, maybe $1 per share, but your break-even point would drop from $18 to $16.50 (only 6% return then per month, not too shabby). The option trade will usually be written like this: SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 17.5 PUT @ 1.00 This means we sold 1 PUT on ABC, 100 shares per contract, the expiration date is July 17, 2020, and the strike is $17.5, and we sold it for $1 per share (so $100 credit minus fees). With your $20 short put, you will get assigned the shares if the price drops below $20 and you keep it until expiration, however, you will have paid them the equivalent of $18 each (we’ll actually talk more about the assignment later). If your short put expires worthless, you keep the premium, and you may decide to redo the same trade again. The share price may have gone up so much that the new ATM strike does not make you comfortable, and that’s fine as you were not willing to spend more than $18 per share, to begin with, anyway. You will have to wait for some better conditions. This strategy is called a cash covered put. In a taxable account, depending on your broker, you can have it on margin with no cash needed (you will need to have some other positions to provide the buying power). Beware that if you don’t have the cash to cover the shares, it is adding some leverage to your overall position. Make sure you account for all your potential risks at all times. The nice thing about this position is that as long as you are not assigned, you don’t actually need to borrow some money, it won’t cost you anything. In an IRA account, you will need to have the cash available for the assignment (remember in this example, you only need $1800, plus trading fees). Let’s roll! Now one month later, the share price is between $18 and $22, there are few days of expiration left, and you don’t want to be assigned, but you want to continue the same process for next month. You could close the current position, and reopen a new short put, or you could in one single transaction buy back your current short put, and sell another put for next month. Doing one trade instead of two is usually cheaper because you reduce the slippage cost. The closing of the old position and re-opening of a new short position for the next expiration is called rolling the short option (from month to month, but you can also do this with weekly options). The croll can be done a week or even a few days before expiration. Remember to avoid expiration days, and be careful being short an option on ex-dividend dates. When you roll month to month with the same strike, for most cases, you will get some money out of it. However, the farther your strike is from the current share price, the less additional premium you will get (due to the lower extrinsic value on the new option), and it can end up being close to $0. At that point, given the risk incurred, you may prefer to close the trade altogether or just be assigned. During the roll, depending on if the share price moved a bit, you can adjust the roll up or down. For example, you buy back your short put at $18, and you sell a new short put at $17 or $19, or whatever value makes the most sense. Assignment Now, let’s say that the share price finally dropped below $20, and you decided not to roll, or it dropped so much that the roll would not make sense. You ended up getting your shares assigned at a strike price of $18 per share. Note that the assigned share may have a current price much lower than $18 though. If that’s the case, remember that you earned more money than if you bought the shares outright at $20 (at least, you got to keep the $2 premium). And if you rolled multiple times, every premium that you got is additional money in your account. Want to sell at a premium? Sell Covered Calls. You could decide to hold onto the shares that you got at a discount, or you may decide that the stock price is going to go sideways, and you are fine collecting more theta. For example, you could sell a call at a strike of $20, for example for $1 (as it is OTM now given the stock price dropped). SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20 CALL @ 1.00 When close to the expiration time, you can either roll your calls again, the same way that you rolled your puts, as much as you can, or just get assigned if the share price went up. As you get assigned, your shares are called away, and you receive $2000 from the 100 shares at $20 each. Except that you accumulated more money due to all the premiums you got along the way. This sequence of the short put, roll, roll, roll, assignment, the short call, roll, roll, roll, is called the wheel. It is a great strategy to use when the market is trading sideways and volatility is high (like currently). It is a low-risk trade provided that the share you pick is not a risky one (pick a market ETF to start) perfect to get create some income with options. There are two drawbacks though:
If the share dropped too much, you are stuck with it.
You will have to be patient for the share to go back up, but often you can end up with many shares at a loss if the market has been tanking. As a rule of thumb, if I get assigned, I never ever sell a call below my assignment strike minus the premium. In case the market jumps back up, I can get back to my original position, with an additional premium on the way. Market and shares can drop like a stone and bounce back up very quickly (you remember this March and April?), and you really don’t want to lock a loss. Here is a very quick example of something to not do: Assigned at $18, current price is $15, sell a call at $16 for $1, share goes back up to $22. I get assigned at $16. In summary, I bought a share at $18, and sold it at $17 ($16 + $1 premium), I lost $1 between the two assignments. That’s bad.
If the share goes up too fast, you missed some opportunity for gain, potentially big gains.
You will have to find some other companies to do the wheel on. If it softens the blow a bit, your retirement account may be purely long, so you’ll not have totally missed the upside anyway. A short put is a bullish position. A short call is a bearish position. Alternating between the two gives you a strategy looking for a reversion to the mean. Both of these positions are positive theta, and negative vega (see part 2). Now that I explained the advantage of the long calls and puts, and how to use short calls and puts, we can explore a combination of both. Verticals Most option beginners are going to use long calls (or even puts). They are going to gain some money here and there, but for most parts, they will lose money. It is worse if they profited a bit at the beginning, they became confident, bet a bigger amount, and ended up losing a lot. They either buy too much (50% of my account on this call trade that can’t fail), too high of a volatility (got to buy those NKLA calls or puts), or too short / too long of an expiration (I don’t want to lose theta, or I overspent on theta). As we discussed earlier, a straight long call or put is one of the worst positions to be in. You are significantly negative theta and positive vega. But if you take a step back, you will realize that not accounting for the premium, buying a call gives you the upside of stock up to the infinity (and buying a put gives you the upside of the stock going to $0). But in reality, you rarely are betting that the stock will go to infinity (or to $0). You are often just betting that the stock will go up (or down) by X%. Although the stock could go up (or down) by more than X%, you intuitively understand that there is a smaller chance for this to happen. Options are giving you leverage already, you don’t need to target even more gain. More importantly, you probably should not pay for a profit/risk profile that you don’t think is going to happen. Enter verticals. It is a combination of long and short calls (or puts). Say, the company ABC trades at $20, you want to take a bullish position, and the ATM call is $2. You probably would be happy if the stock reaches $25, and you don’t think that it will go much higher than that. You can buy a $20 call for $2, and sell a $25 call for $0.65. You will get the upside from $20 to $25, and you let someone else take the $25 to infinity range (highly improbable). The cost is $1.35 per share ($2.00 - $0.65). BUY +1 VERTICAL ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20/25 CALL @ 1.35 This position is interesting for multiple reasons. First, you still get the most probable range for profitability ($20 to $25). Your cost is $1.35 so 33% cheaper than the long call, and your max profit is $5 - $1.35 = $3.65. So your max gain is 270% of the risked amount, and this is for only a 25% increase in the stock price. This is really good already. You reduced your dependency on theta and vega, because the short side of the vertical is reducing your long side’s. You let someone else pay for it. Another advantage is that it limits your max profit, and it is not a bad thing. Why is it a good thing? Because it is too easy to be greedy and always wanting and hoping for more profit. The share reached $25. What about $30? It reached $30, what about $35? Dang it dropped back to $20, I should have sold everything at the top, now my call expires worthless. But with a vertical, you know the max gain, and you paid a premium for an exact profit/risk profile. As soon as you enter the vertical, you could enter a close order at 90% of the max value (buy at $1.35, sell at $4.50), good till to cancel, and you hope that the trade will eventually be executed. It can only hit 100% profit at expiration, so you have to target a bit less to get out as soon as you can once you have a good enough profit. This way you lock your profit, and you have no risk anymore in case the market drops afterwards. These verticals (also called spreads) can be bullish or bearish and constructed as debit (you pay some money) or credit (you get paid some money). The debit or credit versions are equivalent, the credit version has a bit of a higher chance to get assigned sooner, but as long as you check the extrinsic value, ex-dividend date, and are not too deep ITM you will be fine. I personally prefer getting paid some money, I like having a bigger balance and never have to pay for margin. :) Here are the 4 trades for a $20 share price: CALL BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 OTM - Bullish spread - Debit CALL BUY 25 OTM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Credit PUT BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 ITM - Bullish spread - Credit PUT BUY 25 ITM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Debit Because both bullish trades are equivalent, you will notice that they both have the same profit/risk profile (despite having different debit and credit prices due to the OTM/ITM differences). Same for the bearish trades. Remember that the cost of an ITM option is greater than ATM, which in turn is greater than an OTM. And that relationship is what makes a vertical a credit or a debit. I understand that it can be a lot to take in. Let’s take a step back here. I picked a $20/$25 vertical, but with the share price at $20, I could have a similar $5 spread with $15/$20 (with the same 4 constructs). Or instead of 1 vertical $20/$25, I could have bought 5 verticals $20/$21. This is a $5 range as well, except that it has a higher probability for the share to be above $21. However, it also means that the spread will be more expensive (you’ll have to play with your broker tool to understand this better), and it also increases the trading fees and potentially overall slippage, as you have 5 times more contracts. Or you could even decide to pick OTM $25/$30, which would be even cheaper. In this case, you don’t need the share to reach $30 to get a lot of profit. The contracts will be much cheaper (for example, like $0.40 per share), and if the share price goes up to $25 quickly long before expiration, the vertical could be worth $1.00, and you would have 150% of profit without the share having to reach $30. If you decide to trade these verticals the first few times, look a lot at the numbers before you trade to make sure you are not making a mistake. With a debit vertical, the most you can lose per contract is the premium you paid. With a credit vertical, the most you can lose is the difference between your strikes, minus the premium you received. One last but important note about verticals: If your short side is too deep ITM, you may be assigned. It happens. If you bought some vertical with a high strike value, for example: SELL +20 VERTICAL SPY 100 17 JUL 20 350/351 PUT @ 0.95 Here, not accounting for trading fees and slippage, you paid $0.95 per share for 20 contracts that will be worth $1 per share if SPY is less than $350 by mid-July, which is pretty certain. That’s a 5% return in 4 weeks (in reality, the trading fees are going to reduce most of that). Your actual risk on this trade is $1900 (20 contracts * 100 shares * $0.95) plus trading fees. That’s a small trade, however the underlying instrument you are controlling is much more than that. Let’s see this in more detail: You enter the trade with a $1900 potential max loss, and you get assigned on the short put side (strike of $350) after a few weeks. Someone paid expensive puts and exercised 20 puts with a strike of $350 on their existing SPY shares (2000 of them, 20 contracts * 100 shares). You will suddenly receive 2000 shares on your account, that you paid $350 each. Thus your balance is going to show -$700,000 (you have 2000 shares to balance that). If that happens to you: DON’T PANIC. BREATHE. YOU ARE FINE. You owe $700k to your broker, but you have roughly the same amount in shares anyway. You are STILL protected by your long $351 puts. If the share price goes up by $1, you gain $2000 from the shares, but your long $351 put will lose $2000. Nothing changed. If the share price goes down by $1, you lose $2000 from the shares, but your long $350 put will gain $2000. Nothing changed. Just close your position nicely by selling your shares first, and just after selling your puts. Some brokers can do that in one single trade (put based covered stock). Don’t let the panic set in. Remember that you are hedged. Don’t forget about the slippage, don’t let the market makers take advantage of your panic. Worst case scenario, if you use a quality broker with good customer service, call them, and they will close your position for you, especially if this happens in an IRA. The reason I am insisting so much on this is because of last week’s event. Yes, the RH platform may have shown incorrect numbers for a while, but before you trade options you need to understand the various edge cases. Again if this happens to you, don’t panic, breathe, and please be safe. This concludes my post 3a. We talked about the trade-offs between buying shares, buying calls instead, selling puts to get some premium to buy some shares at a cheaper price, rolling your short puts, getting your puts assigned, selling calls to get some additional money in sideways markets, rolling your short calls, having your calls assigned too. We talked about the wheel, being this whole sequence spanning multiple months. After that, we discussed the concept of verticals, with bullish and bearish spreads that can be either built as a debit or a credit. And if there is one thing you need to learn from this, avoid buying straight calls or puts but use verticals instead, especially if the volatility is very high. And do not ever sell naked calls, again use verticals. The next post will explain more advanced and interesting option strategies. --- Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the greeks Post 3a: Simple Strategies Post 3b: Advanced Strategies Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals) Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges)
A detailed guide and comparison between Sarwa and IBKR
As promised earlier I am sharing my experience investing with Sarwa and IBKR individually: Account opening: Opening an IBKR account with either Sarwa or directly through IBKR is extremely easy. On Sarwa you would have to sign up and upload a few documents, basically your passport and DEWA bill. You’ll have to take a selfie holding your passport for verification. The whole process takes about a week and Sarwa then emails you your IBKR credentials. You can then log in to uour IBKR account. With Sarwa you can schedule a call, that’s how I started with them, someone will call you at your preferred time and explain everything. The person calling you will probably gonna be your advisor. During signing up you fill some questions to test your risk appetite. Accordingly a plan is assigned to you. In my case I opted for a higher risk level than the one allocated to me. I discussed that with my advisor and she approved it. Different risk levels will have different target allocations of ETFS (For example, moderate growth is 38% American stocks, 31% developed markets, 16% bonds, 10% emerging markets & 5% real estate. The more risk you opt for the more American stocks you get and less bonds and vice versa. Directly through IBKR would basically be a similar process, the documents needed would also be the passport and last DEWA bill. They auto pull your info from your passport scan, if some details could not be pulled out correctly a manual check from IB’s side will be done. Account opening took about 5 days. Now there is no risk assessment and you are on your own. You can buy whatever ETFs or stock you like. No account opening fees either with Sarwa or IBKR. Trading: Obviously with Sarwa you cannot make trades yourself. Once you deposit the money in your IBKR account (A USA Citibank account) trades are made on the same day by Sarwa on your behalf. ETFs are purchased according to the target allocation of your profile. When fluctuations happen (example US stocks fall and bonds increase) and then you make further deposits they will rebalance your profile to maintain the target allocation. With IBKR you can buy whatever you want whether individual stocks or ETFs, diversified or not. It’s all on your own responsibility. Trading fees are completely waived with Sarwa. The trades they make on your behalf are free. With IBKR there are reasonable fees for buying and selling. I recommend using tiered structure (not fixed, you can choose that from settings). Just to give you an idea. A single purchase of 5,000 USD worth of ETFs incurs about 0.63 USD in fees. You cannot day trade with IBKR until your net liquidity value reaches 25K USD. You then have an unlimited number of daily trades. Less than 25K USD you will have to check your account to know how many trades you can perform daily/weekly. It’s very straightforward and clear. Fees: With Sarwa there is no account maintenance fees and you can start with 500 USD minimum balance. There is however an advisory fee. It is 0.85% annually charged on monthly basis for accounts worth 2500-50000K USD, 0.7% for accounts worth 50-100K USD and 0.5% for accounts above 100K USD value. No advisory fees for accounts worth 500-2500 USD. Example: Your account is worth 10,000 USD. Annual fee is 85 USD and you will be charged monthly 7 USD. With IBKR there is a 10USD monthly activity fee charged if your account is worth less than 100K USD. These fees are charged if you don’t trade. If you are actively trading commissions are deducted from those 10 dollars and you are probably won’t be paying these 10 USD. Example: Last month my trading commissions were 29 USD, I don’t pay the 10USD. If your monthly commissions are lets say 5 USD you pay 10USD – 5 USD = 5 USD and so on. Monthly activity fees are waived for the first 3 months. Monthly fees are only 3 USD for those aged less than 25 years old. Funding: Since both are IBKR accounts so funding is almost identical. You get detailed funding instructions on Sarwa’s website showing different UAE banks how-to(s). On IBKR there are also funding instructions, but not as detailed as on Sarwa and not of course tailored according to UAE banks. It’s still easy. My recommendation for funding is using Standard Chartered bank. They charge a fixed rate of 26.25 Dhs for every transfer. Corresponding bank fees are waived. Money reaches your USA IBKR account instantly and is immediately available for trading. Using 3rd party ways like Transferwise will incur higher charges according to my experience and will take more time. Moreover the funds will not be immediately available for trading (It matters if you want to seize the chance and buy in a dip). Also many transfers from Transferwise and Revolut are sometimes declined by IBKR. You can transfer from all other UAE banks but will have to pay corresponding bank fees of 25USD (amount less than 5K USD) 35 USD (between 5-25K) and 45 USD for amounts beyond 25K USD. Exchange rates differ from one bank to another and depends on your banking relationship. I would recommend you joiny SimplyFi facebook group and search there to learn about different bank fees. Citibank will also not charge a corresponding bank fees (Citi to Citi) and transfers are instant, but their rate is not competitive imho. Margin: Your account is a cash account with Sarwa. That means you can only buy ETFs equal to the amount of money your transfer. Pretty simple. With IBKR you first apply for a cash account. I later requested an upgrade for a margin account and got an approval the next day. A margin account basically means you can take a loan from IBKR to buy stocks/ETFs. The loan amount depends on your profile and assessment of IBKR. They gave me a leverage ratio of 2 (Example my worth is 10 USD I can take a margin loan of equal amount of 10USD). The margin interest rate is one of the lowest in the world currently at 1.6% annually (charged daily). Beware this is very risky and should only be attempted if you really know what you are doing. If your net liquidity value falls beyond a specific level IBKR will liquidate your positions. If you are interested in learning more about margin trading please private message me. Support: With Sarwa I get support via 3 methods, either messaging there whats app support number, my advisor’s whats app number or directly calling my advisor. It all works fine and they are all very responsive. With IBKR, you can either send inbox messages (Like with banks) or much more conveniently live chat with them. They are just great and will help you with anything. Finally: I have so many other things in mind I want to talk (Like subscriptions for market data & trading stations whether web based/desktop app/mobile app) but I feel that would be too much and maybe doesn’t interest everyone. So I can gladly answer any specific questions. As you can see I comparing features and general usage of both accounts and not investment and performance. My Sarwa account is up 12% in 7 months but that is basically because I bought in the March dip. My personal IBKR account of similar value is up only 3%, but this is a different story as the allocation and target is different in both scenarios. Please note I cannot advise on what to buy or sell as I am not a financial expert. Just sharing my experience as an individual. Cheers!
Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the Greeks Post 3a: Simple Strategies Post 3b: Advanced Strategies Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals) Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges) --- This is a follow up of the first post. The basics: Volatility and Time Now that you understand the basics of intrinsic and extrinsic values and how together gives a price to the premium, it is important to understand how the extrinsic value is actually calculated. The intrinsic value is easy: The intrinsic value of a call = share price - strike (if positive, $0 otherwise) The intrinsic value of a put = strike - share price (if positive, $0 otherwise) The extrinsic value is mostly based on two variables: volatility of the share price and time. Given the historic volatility, and the predicted volatility, how far can the share price go by the expiration date? The longer the date, and the higher the share volatility, the higher the chance of the share to change significantly. A share that jumped from $25 to $50 in the past few weeks (hello NKLA!) will have much higher volatility than a share that stayed at $50 for several months in a row. Similarly, an option expiring in two months will have a higher extrinsic value than an option expiring in one month, just because the share has more chances to move more in two months than a single month. The extrinsic value is calculated as a combination of both the expiration date (how many days to expiration, hours even when you are close to expiration), and the implied volatility of the share. Each strike, call or put, will have their own implied volatility. It is quite noticeable when you look at all the strikes for the same expiration. Sometimes, you can even arbitrage this between strikes and expiration dates. The basics: Buying and Selling contracts Until now, we have only talked about buying call and put contracts. You pay a premium to get a contract that allows you to buy (call) or sell (put) shares of a specific instrument. As your risk is the cost of your premium, you can notice that buying options is a risky proposition. To make a profit on the buying side:
You have to be directionally correct. The price must go up for calls, down for puts.
AND the share price move must be bigger than the premium you paid.
AND the share price move must happen before the option expiration.
You will notice that it is pretty unforgiving. Sure, when you are right, you can make a 100% to 1000% profit in a few months, weeks, or even days. But there is a big chance that you will suffer death by thousands of cuts with your long call or put contracts losing value every day and become worthless. We were discussing earlier how volatile stocks can have a high extrinsic value. What happens to your option price if the share is changing a lot and suddenly calms down? The extrinsic portion of the option price will crater quickly because volatility dropped, and time is still passing every day. The same way you can buy options, you can also sell call and put options. Instead of buying the right to exercise your ITM calls and puts, you sell that right to a 3rd party (usually market makers). To make a profit on the selling side:
You have to be directionally correct.
OR the share price does not move as much as the premium.
OR the share price does not move before the option expiration.
Buying calls and puts mean that you need to have strong convictions on the share’s direction. I know that I am not good at predicting the future. However, I do believe in reversion to the mean (especially in this market :)), and I like to be paid as time is passing. In case you didn't guess yet, yes, I mostly sell options, I don’t buy them. This is a different risk, instead of death by a thousand cuts, a single trade can have a big loss, so proper contract sizing is really important. It is worth noting that because you sold the right of exercise to a 3rd party, they can exercise at any time the option is ITM. When one party exercises, the broker randomly picks one of the option sellers and exercises the contract there. When you are on the receiving end of the exercise, it is called an assignment. As indicated earlier, for most parts, you will not be getting assigned on your short options as long as there is some extrinsic value left (because it is more profitable to sell the option than exercising it). Deep ITM options are more at risk, due to the sometimes inexistent extrinsic value. Also, the options just before the ex-dividend date when the dividend is as bigger than the extrinsic value are at risk, as it is a good way to get the dividend for a smaller cash outlay with little risk. In summary:
Buying a call, you hope the price to go up significantly.
Max loss is the premium. You lose money with time.
Max profit is infinity, minus the premium.
Buying a put, you hope the price to go down significantly.
Max loss is the premium. You lose money with time.
Max profit is the strike price, minus the premium.
Selling a call, you hope the price to not change much, or to go down.
Max loss is infinity (just don’t sell straight calls, at most do verticals - see next post).
Max profit is the premium. You profit from time.
Selling a put, you hope the price to not change much, or to go up.
Max loss is the strike price.
Max profit is the premium. You profit from time.
The Greeks Each option contract has a complex formula to calculate its premium (Black-Scholes is usually a good initial option pricing model to calculate the premiums). Things that will determine the option premium are:
Current share price
Call or Put
American or European style options
Cost of money (or risk-free rate)
And the time to expiration
There are four key values calculated from the current option price: delta, gamma, theta, and vega. In the options world, we call them ‘the Greeks’. Delta is how correlated your option price is compared to the underlying share price. By definition 100 shares have a delta of 100. If an option has a delta of 50, it means that if the share price increases by $1, the new price of your option means that you earned $50. Conversely, a drop of $1 means you will lose $50. Each call contract bought will have a delta from 0 to 100. A deep ITM call will have a delta close to 100. An ATM call will have a delta around 50. Note that on expiration day, as the intrinsic value disappears, an ATM call behaves like the share price, with a delta close to 100. Buying a put will have a negative delta. A deep ITM put will have a delta close to -100. Selling a call will have a negative delta, selling a put will have a positive delta. Gamma is the rate of change of delta as the underlying share price changes. Unless you are a market maker or doing gamma scalping (profiting from small changes in the share price), you should not worry too much about gamma. Theta is how much money you lose or profit per day (week-end included!) on your option contracts. If you bought a call/put, your theta will be negative (you lose money every day due to the time passing closer to the contract expiration, and your option price slowly eroding). If you sold a call/put, your theta will be positive (you earn money every day from the premium). It is important to note that the theta accelerates as you get closer to the expiration. For the same strike and volatility, a theta for an option that has one month left will be smaller than the theta for an option that has one week left, and bigger than an option that has 6 months left. In the third post, I will explain how you can take advantage of this. FWIW, with the current volatility, I get 0.1% to 0.2% of Return On Risk per day, so roughly 35% to 70% of return annualized. I don’t expect these numbers to keep like this for a long time, but I will profit as long as we are in this sideways market. I also have an overall positive delta, so I will benefit as the market goes up, and theta gain will soften the blow when the market goes down. Vega is how much your option price will increase or decrease when the implied volatility of the share price increase by 1%. If you bought some puts or calls, your vega will be positive, as your extrinsic value will increase when volatility increases. Conversely, if you sold some puts or calls, your vega will be negative. On the sell side, you want the actual volatility to be lower than the implied volatility to make money. This is why we often say that you sell options to sell the volatility. When volatility is high, sell options. When volatility is low, buy options. Not the opposite. This also explains why some people lose money when playing stock earnings despite being directionally correct. Before earnings, the option price takes into account the expected stock price change, so the volatility is significantly higher than usual. They bought an expensive call or put, numbers are out, share price moves in the correct direction, but because suddenly the volatility dropped (no uncertainty about the earnings anymore), the extrinsic value of the option got crushed, and offset the increase in intrinsic value. The result is not as much profit as expected or even a loss. Bid/Ask spread Options are less liquid than the corresponding shares, especially given the sheer quantity of strikes and expiration dates. The gap between the bid and the ask can be pretty big. If you are not careful about how you enter and exit the trade, you will transform a profitable trade into a losing one. Due to the small contract costs, the bid/ask spread adds up quickly, and with the trading fees, they can represent 10% or more of your profit. Beware! Never ever buy or sell an option at the market price. Always use a limit order, start with the mid-price, or be even more aggressive. See if someone bites, it happens. If not, give up $0.05 or less, wait a bit longer, and do it again. Be patient. If you are at mid-price between the bid and the ask, and you think this is a fair price, and the market or time is on your side, again just be patient. It is better to not enter a trade that is not in your own terms than overpaying/underselling and reducing your profit/risk ratio too much. LEAPs Leap options have a very long expiration date. Usually one year or more. ETF indexes, like SPY, can have leaps of 1, 2, or 3 years away. They offer some advantages as they have a low theta. A deep ITM Leap can behave like the stock with 30% of the cost. Just remember that if the share drops by 30% long term, you will lose everything. Watch out! This is a personal experience of mine in 2008, where I diversified away from a few companies to many more companies by buying multiple leaps. It was akin to changing 100 shares into options with a delta of 250. However, when the market tanked, all these deep ITM leaps lost significantly (more than if I only had 100 shares). Good lesson learned. You win some, you lose some. Number of shares The vast majority of options trades at 100 shares per contract. But during share splits, or reverse splits, company reorganizations, or special dividend distributions, the numbers of shares can change. The options are automatically updated. The 1:N splits are easily converted as you just get more contracts, and your strike is getting adjusted. For example, let’s say you own 1 contract of ABC with a strike of $200 controlling 100 shares (so exposure to $20k). Then the company splits 1:4, you are going to get 4 contracts with a strike of $50, with each contract controlling 100 shares (so still the same exposure of $20k). The N:1 reverse splits are a tad more complex. Say you have 1 contract of ABC with a strike of $1, controlling 100 shares (so exposure to $100). Then the company reverse splits 5:1, you are going to still get 1 contract, but with a strike of $5, with each contract controlling 20 shares (so still the same exposure of $100). You will still be able to trade these 20 shares contracts but they will slowly trade less and less and disappear over time, as new 100 shares contracts will be created alongside. Brokers and fees In my experience, ThinkOrSwim (TOS owned by TD Ameritrade, being bought by Schwab) is one of the very best brokers to trade options. The software on PC, Mac, iPad, or iPhone is top-notch. Very easy to use, very intuitive, very responsive. Pricing on contracts dropped recently, it’s now $0.65 per contract, with $0 for exercise or assignment. You may actually be able to negotiate an even better price. I also have Interactive Brokers (IB), and that’s the other side of the spectrum. The software is very buggy, unstable, unintuitive, and slow to update. I tried few options trades and got too frustrated to continue. Too bad, it has very good margin rates (although if you are an option seller it is not really needed, as you receive cash when you open your trades). However, it’s perfectly acceptable to trade plain ETFs and shares. Market Markers Most of the options you buy or sell from will be provided by the Markets Makers. Do not expect that you will get good deals from them. You will see in the third post how you selling a put and buying a call is equivalent to buy a share. When you buy/sell a call / put from the market makers, you are guaranteed that they will hedge their corresponding positions by buying/selling a share and the opposite options (put/call). The next post will introduce you to simple option strategies. --- Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the Greeks Post 3a: Simple Strategies Post 3b: Advanced Strategies Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals) Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges)
*NOTE\* The goal of this DD was to provide a cohesive and whole picture of Chegg as a company, taking into account the booming growth they’ve been experiencing during this past quarter. There’s been a lot of talk of Chegg on this subreddit lately but I want to explain why I think it’s about to be the last, best time to buy in before earnings. If you disagree then I urge you to tell me how I’m being autistic and which crucial elements I’m overlooking. In my personal opinion, I believe that Chegg is a solid play in the short term based off both the technicals and the environment in which Chegg exists. As we lead up to Chegg’s earnings on 8/3/2020 and as more people realize Chegg’s continued demand throughout 2020, I believe there will be a substantial run up to play off of (or maybe even multiple as we’ve seen over the past month). OVERVIEW: Chegg is the leading student-first interconnected learning platform, which is on-demand, adaptive, personalized, and backed up by a network of human help. They provide textbooks, 24/7 tutoring, and solutions for a multitude of subjects. Key notes: · Leading direct-to-student connected learning platform · Large addressable market with compelling market trends · High growth and high margin model · Competitive moat given brand, reach, data, and propriety content Chegg is focused on an online, on-demand approach to providing education to students. This has become especially useful with COVID which is going to affect students through the rest of 2020. Chegg’s earnings report is supposed to be on 8/3/2020. I plan on playing off of this run up which I don’t believe is fully factored into the pricing of this stock. Let’s dive in! RELEVANT NEWS: Mass Arbitration: Source If you are/were a student like I was during these years, you may remember the huge Chegg data breach that occurred in 2018. The fallout of this data breach is still affecting Chegg. In April 2020, Z Law filed a class action lawsuit for more than 15,000 individuals asserting a claim of $25,000 for each Chegg customer. Reportedly in June, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) instructed Chegg to pay about $7.5M in fees to launch the arbitrations. Rather than pay these fees, Chegg argued that the customers included in the lawsuit had ‘breached their user agreements by asserting frivolous or improper demands for arbitration.’ Now I don’t have a law degree but this just sounds like a Catch 22 that won’t necessarily hold up in court, and it doesn’t look like it will. It should be noted that all of this information is from a principal at Z Law since Chegg has not responded to requests for information on this issue as of yet. It is likely that this situation will come to a head soon with these latest updates being in the past couple of months. Schools Closing: We are seeing a number of states, or at least counties, mandate that children not go back to school yet this Fall. I believe that this will be a catalyst for increased demand of Chegg’s services. Between their online classrooms, tutoring, and problem solutions, Chegg is in a perfect spot to take advantage of what’s happening for continued growth throughout 2020. FINANCIALS: Market Cap growth vs. Revenue Growth Source · Chegg revenue growth for quarter ending 3/31/2020 was $0.132B, a 35.09% increase from 2019 · Market cap during this period went from $4.4B to $4.19B, a -4% decrease from 2019* * It should be noted that while it’s a great sign that Chegg’s revenue growth is outpacing it’s market cap growth, since last quarter’s earnings were so good, market cap blew out to $8.69B as of this past week, which results in a 67% increase from last year’s 7/15/2019 market cap of $5.20B · Chegg’s annual EPS has been slowly growing by around 30% per year, with the earnings in March 2020 representing a 25% increase since the previous year to $-0.05 EPS. · Chegg’s current P/E ratio is 75.26 TECHNICALS: Source Chegg currently has a resistance of $79.48 with its nearest two supports at $70.15 and $66.76. With the downward trend of the stock market this past week, we saw the share price kiss the first support Tuesday morning when the price dropped but then it slowing gained back throughout the rest of the week. RSI Analysis: Current RSI Level: 63.34 We’ve seen the RSI stay around this level ever since Chegg’s earnings report in March, only breaking out to overbought occasionally before coming back down to near neutral levels (as we saw this past week). In fact, the correction that occurred last week offers a perfect, and quite possibly the last, best set up as we head towards earnings a few weeks from now. *Note: Stochastic oscillator is closer to 50 currently but I’m choosing to evaluate Chegg based on RSI since this stock has been booming all year and strongly trending upwards. MACD Analysis: As of market close this past week, the MACD is currently just barely below its signal line. This is inherently a bearish signal, but the signal line and MACD have been dancing on either side of each other since last earnings, providing lots of opportunities to play these short run ups. The only reason the MACD is below the signal line is because of the correction that occurred last week, meaning that we’re in a perfect spot to take advantage of the next run up. The current signs that I’m seeing that tell me that the train is on its way to tendie town: 1) As of Friday, the stock is trading in an upwards direction above both the EMA and SMA lines indicating very solid price strength 2) The MACD is on the verge of crossing back over its signal line which is a bullish sign to buy and 3) the RSI doesn’t yet indicate that the stock is overbought (but it is heading in that direction). That being said, current resistance levels are set at $79.48. Over the past month, Chegg has been reaching its resistance, falling back, then shooting up past its resistance again – just look at the past month’s chart for Chegg. Past resistance was $75 so I feel confident that this’ll climb to at least $80 but likely higher once the earnings run up starts getting priced in. Once the MACD gives the signal, I will be looking to buy call options at $5 above its last peak of $75.02. This is purely based on my own risk tolerance, I’m sure that higher options would be profitable too though. I’m choosing $5 above since that’s the pattern I’ve been seeing with resistance lines since the last earnings report, but I won’t be selling until I see a downtrend. This could easily go $5-$10 past resistance in anticipation of earnings. It’s also worth noting that the stock has already climbed $3-$4 in the past few days after dropping. That’s a few dollars of growth that we’re missing out on, but that’s the price we pay for confidence. The price strength is finally looking strong enough to buy in which is why I’m sending out this DD. EMA: The current 20 day EMA is $69.06 which it fell below earlier this week but quickly rebounded back on top of it and has been growing steadily ever since. tldr: Long term investors: Hard to tell if the pump this year will continue as COVID inevitably dies down. Past this year I highly doubt that Chegg can continue this growth. But honestly what do I know. Mid term investors: Chegg looks to be strong and growing. The school year will offer a surge of revenue in Q3 but at the same time it’s hard to tell if this same level of growth will continue. You should also be on the lookout for negative catalysts such as this arbitration lawsuit. Short term investors: All systems are a go for some 8/21 $80c. Once we’re locked in, I’m expecting slow and steady gains for the next couple of weeks. If you buy in then I urge you to monitor RSI levels and be on the lookout for a sell off, especially as it approaches $80. If anything, at least set a trailing stop loss. But on the likelihood that this puppy shoots past resistance, we’re looking at a share price of anywhere from $80-$90. Conservatively estimating 50-120% profit depending on how fast it climbs and when it starts to sell off, ideally hold till right before earnings though.
I realize most of my posts get down voted into oblivion anyway, but I'm ready to embrace that. Much of the reason for "hate" is that I've done things a little (or a lot) unconventionally. Not because I was being contrarian, but because I was already an early retiree long before I discover there was such a thing as FIRE, JL Collins, MMM, Vicki Robbin, etc. In some ways I'm glad for this, because I might not have been able to retire as early as I did by following the conventional wisdom. In other ways, it would have made things much easier by having all that collective knowledge to draw from. The point of this post isn't only to share it is okay to do things your own way from time to time, but to encourage discussion in the comments about things you do that are not kosher in the FIRE world. My major mistakes that I wish I had a do over on.... 1) When I first began investing in stocks, to my knowledge ETFs didn't exist. This was in the 80s when things were handled by telephone transaction to a shady guy who promised you he knew a lot of secret knowledge. I was young and stupid and let one of these guys handle my investments. To this day I don't know what happened to him or my stocks. My next attempt was in the mid 90s when computers were more common and I could take control of my own stock picks through a new platform called Sharebuilder. I did my best, but I'll never really know for sure how I did compared to an index. I subscribed to the Motley Fool Hidden Gems letter and bought everything they recommended along with my own picks. Some did well, some went to zero, some traded flat. To sum up, my early years of investing in the stock market were pretty much a mess. 2) I didn't take advantage of a free higher education. Between my athletic skill and my high academic scores I had a chance to go to college completely free...and when I say free...I mean the 100% full ride of all school fees, meals, housing, etc. But I also have social anxiety. I had attended one rural school my entire life with people I had known since K. The new environment was so stressful for me I stopped attending classes and dropped out my first year. 3) I was underemployed most of my life when working for others or struggling to start my own business. I ended up with a food service job (high end, for the most part) that I did really well at. I was given all sorts of managerial responsibilities. I never asked for raises or official promotions, so allowed myself to be very under paid for the work I was doing. My priorities were elsewhere at the time as by that time I was in a band...this kind of became a theme for my early adult life. My creative projects were more important than my income. Even my entrepreneurial leanings (of which there were several projects) were all about creativity first, making money second. Not sure I really regret that though. Things I'm glad I did unconventionally.... 1) Started buying houses in cash. (a huge no no to most people!) I cashed out most of those stocks I mentioned above to start buying houses. (what? you're risking your future!) In cash. In a LCOL area, of course. I bought fixer uppers with absolutely no background in real estate. I hired people to do the work...and learned everything I could on my first few projects. Luckily I'm good with numbers, and I also seemed to have a knack to find undervalued houses with good bones that made ridiculous rental returns after being fixed up. This soon funded itself from the rental income and I was able to grow fairly quickly. That wouldn't have happened if I had listened to what I now know is the conventional wisdom. Would I advise others follow that path. No...not unless they had a similar market to invest in. Trying to repeat this in some areas of the country would not only hurt your returns, it could lead to financial suicide. 2) I set out to find the optimal way to invest in the stock market FOR MY SITUATION. The rentals provide me a steady income, so I knew I could take extra risk in my stocks. After tons of research I discovered the optimal return for me would be based on high dividend stocks in combination with leveraged index funds. I know, I know. I know all the arguments about dividends. For the most part they are true during the accumulation phase. What is often not discussed is everything changes during the draw down period. Dividends lessen your sequence of returns risk since you don't have to sell into down markets to still get income. Sometimes a $1 is not $1 when it cripples future potential returns. There are research papers that go into this in detail, but the math is solid. And I also know leverage index ETFs are poison to many. DECAY! Yet the few papers that address this in real back testing rather than theory show leverage outperforms by a significant margin over most market cycles. Long term, this really adds up. Does this mean I advocate for other people to do what I am doing. NO! Don't do it. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't have secure income to last me well past my death. My stock accounts will be going to fund charities after I die, so I do want them to do well, but if they don't, it won't have any impact on my retirement. While my exact mix does extremely well in back testing, anything can happen. 3) I live an extremely frugal life. I spend only $10k per year for the last several years, which is well below poverty levels. This doesn't mean my life in reality is impoverished...my house is paid for, my cars are paid for, etc...and I've found ways to monetize many things that cost a lot of people money. That doesn't change the fact that I KNOW many people would not be happy living the way I live. They would be miserable. I am not, so it works for me. I enjoy the "game" of frugality and low waste while still living a very fulfilling life. 4) I don't have insurance. I carry only the minimums I'm forced to carry on things. Other than that, I try to self insure. I fully understand why most people think I'm an idiot when it comes to this. My argument is that I can set that money aside and insure myself rather than having huge portions of that go to pay for the infrastructure of the insurance companies. In theory, if I'm a healthy adult with deep pockets paying out of pocket should be cheaper in the long run. If not, insurance companies wouldn't be making money. Same reason I don't buy the extended warranty on electronics or other items. Again...I know the other argument, and it is also valid. I don't want to argue the point in the comments because I have discussed this topic to death elsewhere in other posts. 5) I don't have children and don't plan to have children. You do you. If children bring you joy...well, enjoy! I don't hate children. It is just part of my personal philosophy to not bring more life into this world. Long story, not easily summed up in a post like this, so I'll leave it at that. 6) I invest a substantial amount in a relatively new platform. (Fundrise) My risk tolerance in this sort of investment is high (much like my stock portfolio) and it gives me diversity outside the stock market and my local real estate market. I don't think the platform will fail, but it is technically possible. As with everything else on this list, I don't recommend others do it if it isn't money they can stand to lose. This is another investment that will fund a charity some day. 7) I didn't want to list everything in detail, but there are many other things I do that falls outside of the conventional FIRE wisdom. I'm sure I've touched on some of these in the past, and this post is already long. Very long. IF you made it this far, congrats. So...that is the silly things and maybe a few wise things I do to buck the standard advice. I'd love to hear from others the things they do that don't conform to typical FIRE norms. As always, I'm an open book so feel free to ask questions or tell me how stupid I am!
eBay DD Due Diligence, Coronavirus is about to reboot this stock to what it should have been worth years ago
*Authors note* Attempted to post this in WSB but it kept being rejected by the AUTOMOD because it said the title was too long. IDK what the issue is but I am posting it here if that is okay as I spent a lot of time on it. Apologies it was written in the voice of WSB. This is a great stock to buy as well so I think the people on this sub would appreciate the DD. I don't post here much, for those that don't know me I'm the one who posted a very in depth HUYA DD (Now taken down by the WSB mods I suspect because I made a post earnings update talking about some shenanigans) I sold my Huya 10/16 strikes for 800% profit last week. I will leave my options recommendations in the DD. I know Options are not a big thing here but TBH 1/15/21 $85 strikes are a very conservative investment. I have dysgraphia and dyslexia so my writing style can be brutal but the message should come across. *End Note* eBay could SOON become pound for pound one of the most profitable enterprises outside of gambling and drugs. TLDR Bad Leadership at eBay for YEARS Corona flips the script. Bull Case $180 Bear Case $220 Future Price Target maybe more. We will see how peoples mind changes when we see earnings. BUY 11 – 101 – 1001 Shares Depending on Bankroll (I like shares on this one as I expect the company to pay dividends) X Multiples of 100 for future CC. 7/31 $80C (These look the juiciest RN) (8/21 $90C if made available) 1/15/21 $85C Ebay is an online auction house. Look up your local auction house and spend an evening or day at the Auction. It is fun and will help you understand why previous CEO’s tanked this awesome company with their stupidity. Hammering a Diamond into a square hole. Worked for an auction house 4 years. If you go to a well run local auction you will see diverse people, successful auction houses have a customer makeup like this: 30% Hustlers and People involved with the auctions (Consignees etc) 20% Rich people (Rich people love auctions and I’m not talking about Sotherbys I’m talking about a normal sized city weekly auction there will be lots of rich people there) 40% Normal people that either like the thrill or value seekers. 10% Poor People. This is important when we talk about bad CEO decisions. You have to know your audience. Ebay started out with this dude selling a broken laser printer, Pierre Omidayer. It grew quickly and he brought in professional help. This can be a good thing as founders can get in the way of growth. In 1998 Meg Whitman was hired to be CEO. Her tenure was unimpressive and she was responsible for the first of two massive blunders that decapitated eBay growth. Ebay was growing and the internet was starting to get widespread use. By the early 2000s people started to talk about WEB 2.0 and for some reason certain people thought that WEB 2.0 meant being fancy. Ebay did a massive redesign that was hated by most people. Broadband internet was in it’s infancy and the focus on form over function was frustrating for low bandwidth users as the fanciness was more complicated and took longer to load. Additionally it stunted the pathway that would eventually appear for mobile growth. The remnants of this design linger today. Screen Cap of the AOLfication of eBay late 2003 I believe one of the big problems was rendering the menus in AJAX or something similar, very slow to load in that era Here we can see the failure in line graph form, (These things lag) eBay share price got hammered. One the reasons for the hammering was lackluster earnings, many ebay users attribute this to the redesign failure as it turned off existing and new customers. Link to image as it loos like this sub doesn't allow embeded images Project Ugly-ify and Slow-ify eBay looks to have lopped off growth and momentum for the share price. Meg Whitmans tenure at ebay neutered growth. One could blame Whitman for doing a lot of damage to eBay growth but she will largely be forgotten after you learn about the FLAMING DUMPSTER FIRE OF A CEO that is John Donahoe. In 2008 eBay hired Donahoe to be CEO. This could possibly be the worst hire in the history of all hires. Don’t take my word for it. In 2014 Carl Icahn said eBay was the worst run company he had ever seen. Carl Icahn says eBay is the worst run company he has ever seen Donahoe had series after series of bad decision. He basically went to war with small and medium sellers (eBay’s actual bread and butter customers) and went to great lengths to attract large corporate clients. (The worst type of business for eBay) and run away his most profitable customers. eBay is a market place. Donahoe gave steep discounts in fees in order to attract corporate customers. Companies like Target started to sell on eBays platform. (Most are now gone because within a few short years the internet was mature enough that they could start their own platforms) Link to no longer existing eBay Target Store Fee discounts to corporate customers angered existing sellers. In early 2013 he implemented eBay’s search algorithm (Cassini I believe it was called) Previous to this Algo eBay was just a dumb search engine. With the Algo, eBay could control visibility of items on the site via built in preferences like Best Match. With this Donahoe is about to fire maybe 20% of his most profitable customers and give the Amazon marketplace a flood of new users. This idiot was trying to turn an auction house into the next Amazon. Instead he just put Amazon growth on steroids and shoots himself in the foot. Cassini was used to ban eBay's customers. DROVES OF THEM Donahoe decided that any problems on eBay were caused by sellers and he declared war on the people that were his customers. Enter DSR. Detailed seller ratings was eBay implementation of strict guidelines for their sellers. DSR = 4 categories, each category was rated 1-5 with 5 being good. The system treated 1&2s as a failure. For Example Customer was unhappy with an item they received for whatever reason. If someone rated a part of the transaction a 2 they would get a ding against their DSR. Problem is they treated all categories the same and the thresholds were very stringent. For every 1000 transactions a seller had to have LESS than 10 dings in order to participate with Cassini without a search penalty. If the 10 threshold was crossed (Which is 98.9% or less good rating) they would be penalized in the search standing and go under probation. If they crossed 20/1000 or 97.9% or less positive approval rating they would BAN YOU FROM THE PLATFORM. YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY John DONAHOE in is infinite wisdom decided that sellers with as high as a 97.9% positive transaction rating were disposable. I've NEVER SEEN SOMETHING SO STUPID IN MY LIFE. I kid you not. Donahoe implemented a system where a 98.9% POSITIVE rating has a penalty and 97.9% positive is a ban. (Check the feedback on tons of Amazon marketplace sellers and you will see how ridiculous a threshold this was) What was even more ridiculous was in the beginning all categories were treated the same. For example Books were treated the same way as used women's clothing. Certain categories like womens clothing were DECIMATED by sellers being banned. People who had been on the platform for a decade and had say a 97% positive feedback selling USED WOMENS CLOTHING were banned left and right. It gets worse, remember how at 98.9% they would put you on probation? Some people called this the DEATH SPIRAL as if you were on probation the new “Best Match” system would lower your search standing. So if you were some poor schmuck who had sold 397 used pieces of womens clothing that year and just 4 of them were unhappy with the experience. You’d go on probation with little to no hope of anything other than the ban hammer. I’ve read many period era messageboard posts of long time sellers in probation trying to do EVERYTHING they could to raise their DSR to get out of probation but had zero visibility with the new algo, they were just left to wither on the vine hoping fruitlessly to turn things around. Most of them didn’t know it YET but eventually as people started putting the pieces together there was no chance of them escaping the Death Spiral. Gaggles of people spent MONTHS trying to save their accounts and eventually most of them realized they were screwed, there was nothing they could do about it because of the Algos. These sellers turned on ebay and took others with them. If you notice during this time period AMAZON marketplace took off. Daddy Bezo’s had a flood of experienced online traders who simply shifted their operations to the less popular (at the time) and more expensive platform (at the time). It was either that or close shop. MANY CHOSE TO CLOSE SHOP. The stupidity of all this was the Small and Medium sellers were the real money makers. eBay charges around a 9% fee with a cap of $250 per transaction. Which is more profitable? Target selling 50,000 items or 5,000 small to medium size sellers selling 100 items? The answer is in the nature of marketplaces. Target sells to 5,000 customers and that is the end of the story. Small to medium sized sellers tend to keep the money in the marketplace. User A sells to user B for $100 User B can turn around and take that $100 and buy something he needs for himself or his business from user C, user C can then do the same. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Target selling $100 is a one way street while Small to Medium users can be a continuous money carousel. Donahoe in his infinite ignorance ran off many of his prime sellers. Ultimately sellers are your customers as they are the one’s who pay the fees. He jump started his competition whom he was stupidly trying to emulate. The important thing to understand about eBay is their product (An Auction) is easily scaleable and cheap to run For example this Rolex costs about the same to service this listing for a rug The Target deal, illustrated with a bathroom rug Chasing these corporate dollars was infinitely stupid.
They gave these corporations steep discounts to use the platform
The internet was maturing and we were just a few years from all these corporations having their own web presence
Robbed dollars and eyeballs from your bread and butter. Auction and Store listings of small to medium sellers.
Robs future revenue from carousel customers who return money to the marketplace and gives it to corporate customers who do not return dollars and are using the dollars they make off you to build the infrastructure to replace you. DING DING DING
This dude declared war on some of his best customers and tried to make eBay an ugly corporate shill and would eventually lead to the invasion of cheap Chinese stuff (eBay is now combating that) We can see the results of his war on customers with this graph. eBay’s growth and revenue was decimated by this idiot and you can see the results once the earnings were reported (Which lagged the implementation of his stupidity) War on customers displayed via line graph Donohoe decapitated ebay right during what would have been it’s prime growth years and funneled those customers to his biggest competitor. eBay can make far more with less because of the nature of it’s bread and butter customers. Many auction enthusiasts are high income types. eBay has better demographics financially than it’s competitors. There is even a fairly large industry of arbitrage where people sell items they source elsewhere (Like amazon) and basically drop ship them off as eBay sells because some stuff sells at a premium on eBay. eBay CAN make more money per transaction compared to similar industries and can capture a significant amount of money to return within the marketplace. Similar to sales tax, that dollar can bounce around within the marketplace and eBay can take it’s 9% cut every time it switches hands. Interesting side rabbit hole that arises during the Donahoe years. Donahoe was obsessed with attacking his own customers. This was commonly followed in an industry blog called AuctionWeb and then eventually named ecommercebytes. Run by the Steiner Couple Here is an article their website published about them getting rid of sellers They reported on all of eBay’s policy changes and basically called them out for being the giant window lickers they were. It ruffled a few feathers within the organization and now 6+ employees of eBay are being charged with crimes like harassment and stalking. Really a crazy story. DONAHOE is to blame for the policies and culture that allowed this to happen. He should go to jail over just what he did to the share price. Crazy eBay Criminal Stalking More Crazy eBay Harassment During all of this foot shooting was when Carl Icahn said that eBay was THE WORST RUN COMPANY HE HAD EVER SEEN One of the problems was the incestuous nature of eBay’s relationship with Paypal and the board members who presided over both. They basically spent a decade doing what was best for the board and not what was best for the Shareholders, employees and customers of eBay. This is now not so much a problem because many of those relationships no longer exist. In the aftermath the other pieces have found increased market value and eBay has been suppressed due to it being stuck with all the burdens of the Donahoe administration and bad perception. eBay should have been worth more as an individual piece and it’s was the one who took the financial hits. PayPal Split in 2015 PayPal has a 113 P/E (I’m not saying this is the best metric to judge a company I’m just using it for illustration) If eBay traded at Paypal P/E it would be worth $660 So what’s the catalyst to the eBay Rocket Ship that is about to take off? CORONA. Corona is shaking up the whole economy and this shake up will jolt eBay to it’s full potential. Alexa 90 days, even better at 140 and this growth is against the normal ebb of seasonal business Over the past 4 months as far as I can tell eBay has increased traffic by as much as 18%+ which is pretty AMAZING for a very mature internet company. Even more amazing when you take into account that this is normally eBays slow period. Traffic is normally on the downturn. YOY I am curious how much busier they have been I'm guessing 45% YOY increase in traffic for the Month of May & June April May June July are eBay’s 4 slowest months and the July 28th earnings will encompass 3 of those 4 months. During the slowest time of year eBay went from the mid 50’s to the lower 40’s for it’s spot in total Internet Traffic. A HUGE shift against the normal tide of business cycles. Traffic for last 90 days. Up much more over entire Corona Period the increase looks more bigly when you view 150 days out I've spent a few hours trawling eBay seller message boards. Within this quarter I have heard of increases in per transactions and a decrease in "Best Offers" which means better margins for sellers and more fees for eBay. I attribute this to Corona disrupting normal supply chains. eBay has been established for many years so boomers when they can’t find something are like "Oh Yeah EBAY." Many sellers report increased sells in business related categories and more aged inventory being sold as parts of the market shift towards online from some of the traditionally Bricks and Mortar industries. eBay has a very successful and well made app. Sellers are seeing increased usage amongst younger buyers/sellers whom are either bored with the lockdowns or looking for side income after losing their jobs. Remember when we mentioned 500 small sellers being worth more than one big corporate client? This will be obtained with an army of people using the app on their cell phones. Corona is going to get the attention of customers they lost over the years as they come back to the platform they remember, millennials and new users when they discover the well made app will come online. I've added the eBay App to my phone it is very good and has very customizable search features. The Bear case for eBay is even more, if Corona turns out to be worse (It’s not) everything online just becomes more valuable. So what is eBay worth? Well it’s a better investment IMO than Paypal eBay valued like Paypal is worth $660 Mercardo Libre is worth more than eBay (This is a Crime) as it is not even a top 1000 worldwide website while eBay is top 50. Plus it doesn’t even turn a profit. If you have any MELI stock sell half of it and buy eBay in addition to whatever you would buy if you didn't own MELI do the same for PayPal as well IMO. If eBay was valued like MELI it would be worth Tesla numbers Mercardo Libre has a 25% bigger market cap than eBay and doesn’t turn a profit. Ebay would be $76 a share just to be on par with MELI and it shouldn’t even be in the same ballpark. Etsy is just outside of the Top 100 for web traffic and has a 181 P/E if eBay was trading like ETSY it would be trading at $1090 a share If eBay was valued like ETSY it would trade for $1090 Channel Advisor is a company that grew out of offering services for eBay and while it works on multiple platforms it’s use was born from eBay and it has a 60 P/E If trading like Channel Advisor it would be worth $363 Corona shifted a lot of users to the eBay marketplace because of busted supply chains. They now have an Okay website and an EXCELLENT APP. This increased use comes during the traditional low tide of eBay traffic and if eBay leans into the coming quarters their revenue is going to skyrocket. Corona was the catalysts to wake everybody up to what eBay could do and what it should be worth. EBAY should be one of the most profitable companies in the US economy with lots of room to improve the bottom line. It has all the pieces. Like Selling off some of the MANY side projects under the eBay umbrella Streamlining Employment Just this month they are integrating their own payment platform which should add 1-2% more to every sell which is a big deal considering that the average fee is around 9%. We are talking about maybe 20% added to revenue with not much changing. BIG MONEY Winning back Small to Medium sellers and improving the per item transaction is eBay's ticket to tendie town. All the new growth they are experiencing is exactly what they need and want. They have a good App that can capitalize on the reboot. eBay has ample room for growth and I suspect the income levels of buyers in the marketplace is higher than competitors like Amazon, Etsy, Overstock, Stitch Fix. eBaY has more people with money paying attention. New CEO seems to be a bright guy. All he has to do is not SHOOT HIMSELF IN THE FOOT like the Donahoe CEO. If successful eBay will be on the moon mission of all moon missions MOST UNDERVALUED TECH COMPANY IN AMERICA. As always my DMs are open and I do mercenary stuff. I have my position and I am currently buying shares with a goal of 303 shares before earnings. I suspect this thing will have VERY little resistance upon takeoff Little Resistance BUY 11 – 101 – 1001 Shares Depending on Bankroll (I like shares on this one, I like the company and I'm expecting dividends) Once this rocket settles it is covered call selling time. (This is why you want multiples of 100 You should be at least a 80/20 Options/ Share split. Got to water the seed Options 7/31 $80C (8/21 $90C if ever made available) 1/15/21 $85C (Also I'd buy higher but they are not currently available, if BEFORE earnings Higher Strikes appear I would go up in strike A LOT. If earnings are up big this is ONLY THE BEGINNING as this is eBays SLOW PERIOD. Earnings for the fall will be CRAZY if Traffic continues to hold and if it has the normal Santa Claus Tax increase 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀
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