Which one is best margin trading or options trading? - Quora
Which one is best margin trading or options trading? - Quora
Margin: Margin Trading - Trading Basics | Upstox
Is margin trading a good idea? - Quora
What is margin trading? - Quora
What is margin and delivery trading? - Quora
How I Learnt Trading & Investing- My Journey.
I often get asked about how I learnt investing at such a young age. I mentioned a brief overview of how I got into investing and learned the tactics. Here’s the story. The Idea. I was 14 years old kid eager to make money. My mom gave me an idea of investing in stocks. It seemed to be practical but I knew nothing about it. Later I asked my mom and dad. They knew very little. I called my aunt who trades every day for the last decade. She told me stuff but it didn’t help either. The Hustle. I started watching YouTube videos and read articles of investopedia. I understood nothing. It seemed like rocket science. I then bought a book called the intelligent investor. This book was for pros. I couldn’t read past a couple of pages. A month passed I was still on square one. I heard stuff like sensex, P/E, index, ROIC but I had no idea what they meant. Next, I watched YouTube videos on particular terms. I watched a video on what sensex means. What was a stock. How it works. Watching animated videos were quite helpful. I knew something. A few weeks passed I opened a virtual account on Stock trainer and traded a little. I watched CNBC everyday after I came home from school. Soon I knew the basic ticker symbols. And that’s how I learnt investing, at least the basics. The First Experience. In August I had the basic knowledge about stocks through YouTube. But I had no idea how to open a demat account and all. My mom opened it under her name through Icici Bank. Finally, on 6th September I bought my first stock. Coal India x1. I bought and sold random stocks. I mostly made losses. Over time I learned what fundamental analysis was. I watched animated videos on it. I soon selected stocks on the basis of P/E ratio, profit and sales growth. It didn’t work. I lost big on TATA Motors. Then finally I read my first book on stocks. It was called Rule #1. I had to read it 2-3 times to understand. It took me a month to read it. In August 2018, about a year later I saw a video on technical analysis. I never tried to understand it. I watched it. It was about 1.5hrs long. I was amazed to see how one can predict stock direction based on charts. Over the course of a few months watched over a 100 videos on YouTube about tech analysis since then. I loved the concept of margin. I came home early after my exam and bought my first stock on leverage. The Downfall. It was Infibeam Avenue. I shorted it. I made more money in half an hour than I had made in the entire year. I was soon addicted. Everyday after writing my exam paper I traded instead of studying for the next paper. Soon my exams were over. I had no time. I had to learn how to swing trade. I spent time analysing charts to figure out my next swing position. Again I lost a ton of money. I knew I had to scale back. So I set aside a small capital for trading. April 2019, I opened an account on Zerodha as the Icici brokerage was too much. Over the course I read books like- the intelligent Investor, Stock to riches, how to make money in stocks, how I made over 2 million dollars in the stock market and many more. So videos and books helped me learn more about stock market more than anything. The simplest way to start is just fucking start. If you’ve no idea what to do, just start. Search. Read. That’s how I learnt investing. The Sharing. In March of 2019 I decided to write a short blog on investing on a website called Quora. I was surprised to see the organic reach of my blog. Within hours I got over a thousand views. This encouraged me to write more. Over the course of a year, I ended up writing 450 short blogs on investing on Quora and a couple of books. In July of 2019 I decided to write a book on my experiences. I brainstormed the ideas and after 72 hours of writing and editing, my first draft was ready. I had no idea on how to publish it. After a few more hours of research and designing the cover I finally published it. After a few months I wasn’t satisfied with my book. It was only written for beginners. I decided to write something detailed for people who have decent amount of experience in investing. So, 15 days and 400 pages later I finished writing it. It did pretty good. I got over 5000 downloads. It's free (not trying to promote). The Pandemic. The pandemic was a great opportunity to learn more. I'd been watching hundreds of YouTube videos (I got 1k+ offline vids lol). And I learned more about deeper concepts. Like I'm currently learning about option chain and other forms of data analysis. The Bottom Line. At first I made a ton of silly mistakes. I lost money. But I kept learning and recently I started making profits consistently. It's not a rags to riches story, but it's something most people will go through. I'm no guru or expert, I'm just a guy trying to document his journey. "The more I learn, the most I realise how much I don't know". - Socrates (or some other old guy). -Vikrant C. If you read all that, hats off to you. It was extremely long (and probably not that interesting).
What do you think about this quora answer? Is it really that profitable? What business would you start if you lost everything and had to start over? I did lose almost everything and had to start over. So I started a cigar parlor with my brother. DON’T DO THAT. Unless the conditions are perfect there’s not enough money in it. If I were going to start a new business it would be selling ice cream from a push cart near a beach at a popular summer destination spot. The margin on ice cream is enormous: at its worst, it costs about 25 cents a serving. You sell it for 3 dollars. Let’s double the cost to include the overhead. You’re making $2.50 a cone on the ice cream. Soda is even better. You can get Coca-Cola in bulk for pennies a can and sell it for 2 dollars. Your margin is in the 90s of percent. In a good summer location you can sell hundreds of cones and ice creams per day. If you sell two hundred of each you’ve made 900 dollars; your cost was about 100 dollars. You worked for 10 hours and made 80 dollars an hour. In a thirteen week summer you can make almost 73,000 dollars in profit, enough to take the rest of the year off. Once you do this awhile, if you can, you get an ice cream shack. Things will change because now you can’t go to them - they have to go to you. But you can offer more variety, it’s more established, it’s easier on your body and so forth. If you’re able to add a fryer and sell French Fries you’re really going to clean up - everyone knows the top margin item at McDonald’s is the fries, which is why they push them so hard. Your goal is to make it so you get some cheap but responsible high school kid to dole out the ice cream at the shack for minimum wage (this adds 700 dollars a week to your costs but it could easily make you 6000 dollars in profit - well worth it) while you push the cart around. You could make 10 - 15,000 dollars a week selling ice cream in the summer with a helper. And don’t forget to leave out the “tip jar” - those pennies add up. And this is only if you sell 200 cones and sodas per day. On a good day you could sell triple that or more; if there’s a parade or event or it’s really hot out, the only thing you have to worry about is running out of stock. What’s involved it the government licenses, the stock purchases, the food-safety training and health inspections, the relentless time spent out in the sun and what it entails. You have to keep your eye on the goal - you’re trading YOUR summer for 8 months of off time. You could go to Florida in the winter if you need your own summer “fix” and buy ice cream from someone else. A sniveling, 22-year old girl in an expensive Donna Karan dress who put herself through college debt-free selling ice cream taught me all this at a job interview. She was just the HR rep. She was on her way to becoming an ice-cream millionaire. I didn’t get the job. I got an education. Answered by : Jay Bazzinotti
Why don't Chinese people hate their authoritarian government as much as we think they should? — Kaiser Kuo explains
I've been PMed by multiple people to repost this after my original SSC post was deleted, so here it is again: The following was originally written by the talented Kaiser Kuo as an answer to a question posed on Quora, but for the sake of easier readability, shareability, and the mobile users who don't want to create a Quora account, I've decided to repost it in text post form. I've also added the last part of the answer and postscript in the comments because of Reddit's character limit. Apologies in advance if that breaks any rules. Anyway. Why do many people feel that the Chinese can't possibly be basically okay with their government or society? I’m going to attempt an answer in three parts. First, I’ll look at the gap in political culture between China and the liberal western democracies, especially the United States. I’ll argue that there is little appreciation among most WEIRD individuals—that is, Western, Educated people from Industrialized, Rich, and Developed nations—for just how highly contingent political norms they take for granted really are from an historical perspective. I’ll sketch the outlines of the major historical currents that had to converge for these ideas to emerge in the late 18th century. Then, I’ll compare this very exceptional experience with that of China, which only embraced and began to harness those engines of western wealth and power—science, industrialization, state structures capable of total mobilization of manpower and capital—much later. And late to the game, China suffered for over a century the predations of imperial powers, most notably Japan. Hopefully, I’ll show why it was that liberalism never really took hold, why it was that Chinese intellectuals turned instead to authoritarian politics to address the urgent matters of the day, and why authoritarian habits of mind have lingered on. Next, I’ll argue that a lot of unexamined hubris lies not only behind the belief that all people living under authoritarian political systems should be willing to make monumental sacrifices to create liberal democratic states but also behind the belief that it can work at all, given the decidedly poor record of projects for liberal democratic transformation in recent years, whether American-led or otherwise. It’s important to see what the world of recent years looks like through Beijing’s windows, and to understand the extent to which Beijing’s interpretation of that view is shared by a wide swath of China’s citizenry. Finally, I’ll look at the role of media in shaping perspectives of China in the western liberal democracies and in other states. A very small number of individuals—reporters for major mainstream media outlets posted to China, plus their editors—wield a tremendous amount of influence over how China is perceived by ordinary Anglophone media consumers. It's important to know something about the optical properties of the lens through which most of us view China. Part I — The Values Gap: The Historical Contingency of Liberal Western Thought and Institutions One evening, I was chatting online with a friend here in China, another American expatriate living in another city, about the great disconnect in recent Western understandings of China—the thing that this question and answer seeks to get to the heart of. He suggested that at least for Americans (we’re going to use Americans here, mainly, to stand in for the Anglophone western liberal democracies) the question underlying the disconnect boiled down to this: “Why don’t you Chinese hate your government as much as we think you ought to?" The modern Chinese party-state, after all, is a notorious violator of human rights. It cut its own people down in the street in 1989. It prevents with brutal coercion the formation of rival political parties and suppresses dissent through censorship of the Internet and other media. It oppresses minority populations in Tibet and in Xinjiang, depriving them of religious freedoms and the right to national self-determination. It persecutes religious sects like the Falun Gong. It behaves in a bellicose manner with many of its neighbors, like the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. It saber-rattles over disputed islands with its longstanding East Asian adversary, Japan. It presses irredentist claims against Taiwan, which has functioned as an effectively sovereign state since 1949. It has pursued breakneck economic growth without sufficient heed to the devastation of the environment. It has not atoned for the crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward, when tens of millions died because of absurdly misguided economic policies. It jails rights activists, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I could of course go on. Why then would any American not ask this question? Seems pretty obvious from the perspective of anyone from a liberal western democracy that this is a political system that needs to go, that has failed its people and failed to live up to basic, universal ideas about what rights a government needs to respect and protect. They’ll have heard the argument that China’s leadership has succeeded in other ways: it has allowed China to prosper economically, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, creating a substantial and comfortable middle class with expanded personal (if not political) freedom. And the Chinese Communist Party has managed to ensure a relatively long period of political stability, with orderly leadership transitions absent the political violence that had accompanied nearly all others until Deng Xiaoping’s ascent. "Yeah, but so what?" asks the American. "Anyone who would trade a little freedom for a little personal safety deserves neither freedom nor safety,” he asserts, quoting Benjamin Franklin. He quotes this as gospel truth, ignoring the irony that many Americans advocated just such a trade in the aftermath of September 11. That aside, why shouldn't he quote it? It’s deeply engrained in his political culture. Political liberty is held up practically above all else in the values pantheon of American political culture. The American myth of founding sees the Puritan pilgrims, seeking a place where their brand of Protestantism might be practiced freely, crossing the Atlantic in the Mayflower, creating en route a quasi-democratic quasi-constitution, the Mayflower Compact, landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and over the next 150 years growing into the colony that would lead its 12 sisters into rebellion for freedom from the "tyranny" of King George III. Americans hold the ideas enshrined in their founding documents very dearly, and can't really be blamed for doing so: they are, after all, some very high-minded and frankly very beautiful ideas. What he doesn’t quite appreciate is the precariousness of the historical perch on which these ideas—ideas he holds so strongly and believes so ardently to be universal truths—ultimately rest. Americans, like everyone else for that matter, tend not to take much time to understand the historical experiences of other peoples, and can't therefore grasp the utter contingency upon which their own marvelous system rests. I'm going to grossly oversimplify here, in this grand backward tour of European history, but the political philosophy that gave rise to modern American political ideals, as even a fairly casual student of history should know, emerged during the 18th century in the Enlightenment—an intellectual movement of tremendous consequence but one that would not have been possible save for the groundwork laid by 17th century naturalists who, taken together, gave us an "Age of Reason" (think Newton and all the natural philosophers of the Royal Academy). Their great work could be pursued because already the intellectual climate had changed in crucial ways—chiefly, that the stultifying effects of rigid, dogmatic theology had been pushed aside enough for the growth of scientific inquiry. That itself owes much to the Protestant Reformation, of course, which people tend to date from 1517 but which actually reaches back over a century earlier with John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, arguably Erasmus, and the other pre-Lutheran reformers. And would the Reformation have been possible without the rediscovery of classical learning that was the animating spirit of the Renaissance? Would the Renaissance have been possible without the late medieval thinkers, such as Abelard, who sought out to subject theology to the rigors of Aristotelian logic and reason? Would all this have been possible, if not for the continuous struggles between Emperor and Pope, between Guelph and Ghibelline factions—partisans for the temporal power of the Vatican and Holy Roman Emperor? The fact is that this series of historical movements, eventually carving out politics that was quite separate from—indeed, explicitly separate from—theocratic control, was only really happening in this small, jagged peninsula on the far western end of the great Eurasian landmass. And in the rest of the world—the whole rest of the world—none of this was happening. Political theology remained the rule with rare, rare exceptions. What we've now taken as the norm and the correct form for the whole world—liberal, secular, democratic, capitalistic—is truly exceptional, recent, rare, fragile, and quite contingent. Let’s turn and look for a moment at China, which is arguably much more typical. China is a civilization that didn’t until much later and perhaps still doesn't fit neatly into the modern conception of the nation-state; a massive continental agrarian empire, a civilization with an integrated cosmology, moral philosophy, and political philosophy which together formed the basis of a holistic orthodoxy, deep knowledge of which was required for any man (alas, only men) who wished to climb the only real available ladder of success: the Civil Service Exams. The China that the West—in this case, chiefly the British—encountered in the late 1700s was really at or just past its peak, ruled by a reasonably competent and conscientious Manchu emperor who history knows as Qianlong, ruling a land empire matching, roughly, the contours of the contemporary People’s Republic, almost entirely self-sufficient but willing to sell its silk, porcelain, and especially its tea to anyone who brought minted silver bullion—two-thirds of the world’s supply of which, by the time of the American Revolution, was already in Chinese coffers. What followed was a crisis that lasted, with no meaningful interruption, right up to 1949. Foreign invasion, large-scale drug addiction, massive internal civil wars (the Taiping Civil War of 1852-1863 killed some 20 million people), a disastrous anti-foreign uprising (the Boxers) stupidly supported by the Qing court with baleful consequence, and a belated effort at reform that only seems to have hastened dynastic collapse. The ostensible republic that followed the Qing was built on the flimsiest of foundations. The Republican experiment under the early Kuomintang was short-lived and, in no time, military strongmen took over—first, ex-dynastic generals like Yuan Shikai, then the militarists who scrambled for power after he died in 1916. China disintegrated into what were basically feuding warlord satrapies, waging war in different constellations of factional alliance. Meanwhile, China's impotence was laid bare at Versailles, where the great powers handed to Japan the colonial possessions of the defeated Germany, despite China having entered the Great War on the side of the Allies. During this time, liberalism appeared as a possible solution, an alternative answer to the question of how to rescue China from its dire plight. Liberalism was the avowed ideology of many of the intellectuals of the period of tremendous ferment known as the May Fourth Period, which takes its name from the student-led protests on that date in 1919, demonstrating against the warlord regime then in power which had failed to protect Chinese interests at Versailles at the end of World War I. (The May Fourth period is also referred to as the New Culture Movement, which stretched from roughly 1915 to 1925). The "New Youth" of this movement advocated all the liberal tenets—democracy, rule of law, universal suffrage, even gender equality. Taking to the streets on May Fourth, they waved banners extolling Mr. Sai (science) and Mr. De (democracy). But with only very few exceptions they really conceived of liberalism not as an end in itself but rather as a means to the decidedly nationalist ends of wealth and power. They believed that liberalism was part of the formula that had allowed the U.S. and Great Britain to become so mighty. It was embraced in a very instrumental fashion. And yet Chinese advocates of liberalism were guilty, too, of not appreciating that same contingency, that whole precarious historical edifice from which the liberalism of the Enlightenment had emerged. Did they think that it could take root in utterly alien soil? In any case, it most surely did not. It must be understood that liberalism and nationalism developed in China in lockstep, with one, in a sense, serving as means to the other. That is, liberalism was a means to serve national ends—the wealth and power of the country. And so when means and end came into conflict, as they inevitably did, the end won out. Nationalism trumped liberalism. Unity, sovereignty, and the means to preserve both were ultimately more important even to those who espoused republicanism and the franchise. China's betrayal at Versailles did not help the cause of liberalism in China. After all, it was the standard bearers of liberalism—the U.K., France, and the United States—that had negotiated secret treaties to give Shandong to the Japanese. Former liberals gravitated toward two main camps, both overtly Leninist in organization, both unapologetically authoritarian: the Nationalists and the Communists. By the mid-1920s, the overwhelming majority of Chinese intellectuals believed that an authoritarian solution was China's only recourse. Some looked to the Soviet Union, and to Bolshevism. Others looked to Italy, and later Germany, and to Fascism. Liberalism became almost irrelevant to the violent discourse on China's future. For anyone coming of age in that time, there are few fond memories. It was war, deprivation, foreign invasion, famine, a fragile and short-lived peace after August 1945, then more war. Violence did not let up after 1949—especially for the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who were "class enemies" on the wrong side of an ideological divide; or for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers sent to fight and die in Korea so soon after unification. And even with peace, prosperity didn't come: 1955 saw Mao announce a "high tide of collectivization," which was followed by the tragic folly of the Great Leap Forward and ensuing famine, in which tens of millions perished. A friend of mine named Jeremiah Jenne who taught US college students at a program here in Beijing once said something to the effect of, “When Americans create their movie villains, when they populate their nightmares, they create Hitler and the SS again and again: Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers.” The fear of the liberty-loving American, he implied, is of a surfeit of authoritarianism. What of the Chinese? The Chinese nightmare is of chaos—of an absence of authority. And such episodes of history are fresh in the minds of many Chinese alive today—only a handful are old enough to actually remember the Warlord Period but plenty can remember the Cultural Revolution, when Mao bade his Red Guards to go forth and attack all the structures of authority, whether in the classroom, in the hospital, in the factory, or in the home. And so they humiliated, tortured, sometimes imprisoned and sometimes even murdered the teachers, the doctors, the managers, the fathers and mothers. In the 25 years since Deng inaugurated reforms in 1979, China has not experienced significant countrywide political violence. GDP growth has averaged close to 10 percent per annum. Almost any measure of human development has seen remarkable improvement. There are no food shortages and no significant energy shortages. Nearly 700 million Chinese now use the Internet. Over 500 million have smartphones. China has a high speed rail network that's the envy of even much of the developed world. China has, by some measures, even surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest economy. So try telling a Chinese person that anyone willing to trade a little personal liberty for a little personal safety deserves neither liberty nor safety, and they’ll look at you like you’re insane. Therein lies the values gap. Part II — The View through China’s Window: Liberal Hegemonism in US Foreign Policy In the first part, I laid out a case for why it’s quite natural, given the tendency of Americans (as with all people) to ignore or understate historical contingencies and recognize their own privileges and prejudices, for Americans to be puzzled by Chinese acquiescence toward—indeed, by their often quite vocal support for—a political system so execrable by certain American standards. The hubris of some Americans about their own political system seems to me especially natural, even forgivable, in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the vantage point of 1991, a kind of triumphalism was inevitable: the liberal west, with America at its vanguard, had just vanquished the second of the century’s great ideological enemies. First was Fascism and Naziism with the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945 (never mind that Bolshevik Russia, from the time Hitler invaded Russia, never faced less than two-thirds of German divisions in the field), then Bolshevism with the end of the Cold War. And what was on the minds of Americans—who had watched the Berlin Wall come down, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel assume the Polish and Czech presidencies, Yeltsin defend the Russian parliament and Gorbachev declare the Soviet Union’s end—what was on their minds as they turned thoughts to China? Tiananmen, of course, with its incredibly potent imagery: a million people in the Square, Tank Man, and the Goddess of Democracy. Looming ever present in nearly every conversation about American perception of China in the last quarter century—now in the background, now in the fore—is the bloody suppression of the 1989 student-led protests in Beijing. (Fun Fact: The first democratic elections in Poland were held on June 4, 1989, the very day of the crackdown on the Beijing protests). The years that followed the end of the Cold War would see gathering in American foreign policy a new ideology that would come to supplant the realist school that had dominated from the time of Richard Nixon. This is what the MIT political scientist Barry R. Posen calls Liberal Hegemonism: an activist, interventionist thread that believes in the pushing of liberal democratic politics and capitalism through all available means from “soft power,” to operations aimed at destabilizing authoritarian governments, to actual preemptive war (the Bush doctrine) and the “regime change” of the Neoconservatives. Some of its basic assumptions—not all, but some—are shared both by liberal interventionists and NeoCons. For American liberals, it was guilt from failure to act in the Rwandan Genocide, or to the “ethnic cleansing” that characterized the wars during the breakup of Yugoslavia, that gave impetus to this; for NeoCons, it was the unfinished business of Desert Storm. They found much common ground in their support for “color revolutions” in the former Soviet republics. They may have debated tactics but the impulse was to spread American values and institutions, whether or not doing so would serve a specific and definable American interest. That could be done the Gene Sharp way, or the Paul Wolfowitz way. Neither way was something Beijing wanted done to it. And I don’t think it takes a whole lot of empathy to see what things have looked like from Beijing over the last 25 years. Deng Xiaoping, while he was still alive, pursued a policy of “biding its time and hiding its power” as he focused on building China's domestic economy, avoiding any real confrontation and trying to rebuild relationships post-Tiananmen. But it wasn’t long before tensions sparked. In May of 1999, US smart bombs fell on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and virtually no Chinese believed the American explanation that it was a mistake, the result of an out-of-date map that showed the embassy as an arms depot. Later, in April of 2001, the collision of an American EP-3 spy plane with a Chinese fighter jet off of Hainan Island, off China’s southern coast, sent another chill through Sino-American relations. And things looked like they might have taken a turn for the worse, had not September 11 taken the pressure off. The “War on Terror,” which China could notionally join in, distracted the U.S., which quickly found itself fighting two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy was in high gear, chugging along at double-digit growth rates right up to the eve of the Financial Crisis. The Sino-American waters were probably never calmer than in the years between 2001 and 2008. Perhaps history will see 2008 as an important turning point in these attitudes: during the same year that China staged its first Olympic games, the financial crisis, which China weathered surprisingly well, walloped the West (and much of the rest of the world) with what was arguably its signal event, the bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers on September 15—happening just three weeks almost to the day after the closing ceremony of the Beijing summer games on August 24. It was China’s turn to feel a kind of triumphalism, which often took the form of an unattractive swagger. Meanwhile, a sense of declinism gnawed at the American psyche. After 2008, China became the object of global (read: American) attention again, fueled for some by anxieties over the rapidity of its rise, in others by anger over major flare-ups in western China: riots in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, in March, 2008, and in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, in July, 2009. Factory conditions became a growing concern as Americans realized that even the most sophisticated electronics they sported—everyone had an iPhone by then, right?—were manufactured in China. Remember, too, that excitement over the political potency of social media was also enjoying something of a heyday in this period of liberal hegemonic ascent. As one color revolution after another was live-tweeted (Moldova was perhaps the first, but not the only, of the street movements to be called “The Twitter Revolution”), as every movement had its own Facebook page and Youtube channel, China’s reaction was to censor. There is, after all, one belief about the Internet that the most hardline Chinese politburo member shares with the staunchest American NeoCon: that the Internet, unfettered, would represent an existential threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power. They have of course very different views as to whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing. But can we really be surprised that, able as they are to open to the op-ed section of any American broadsheet and find this idea that Internet freedom is the key to toppling authoritarian single-party rule, the Communist Party leadership would conclude that their approach to censorship is correct? But this of course has created another potent issue over which Americans, very naturally, express outrage—and puzzled frustration that Chinese aren’t (literally) up in arms over Internet censorship. Beijing obviously lamented the Soviet empire’s incredibly rapid implosion. It doubtlessly chafed at how NATO expanded its membership practically up to the Russian doorstep. It certainly hasn’t loved it that American troops are operating from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and were present in great numbers in Afghanistan (which by the way borders China, if only at one end of the narrow Wakhan Corridor). Beijing has surely fretted as American-backed NGOs (the National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is the big boogeyman for pro-Beijing types—perhaps as Confucius Institutes are the bête noire for their anti-Beijing American counterparts) conspired, or so they believe, with the instigators of color revolutions. And it certainly sees the Pivot to Asia—now rebranded the “Rebalancing”—as a species of containment. But what I suspect really has Beijing freaked out, what really seems to have confirmed that America still has its cherished liberal hegemonic ambition, was the Arab Spring. Is Beijing so wrong, looking out on the smoldering wreckage of Libya and Syria, at the mess that Egypt still remains, to want to avoid that outcome at whatever price? Or to think that America’s true, ultimate intention might be regime change in Beijing? Kissinger once famously said that even a paranoid can have enemies. What does all this foreign policy stuff have to do with Chinese attitudes toward their government? It’s fair to ask this; after all, the question I’m trying to answer isn’t specifically about the Chinese state and how it sees things, but rather the Chinese people, and the attachment they seem to have toward a state that comes up so short by American measure. It’s the rare person who can truly separate, at both an intellectual and an emotional level, criticism of his or her country from criticism of his or her country’s government—especially if that government is not, at present, terribly embattled and is delivering basic public goods in a reasonably competent manner. States tend to try to reinforce that conflation of people with state (and in China’s case, party). They encourage the basic state-as-family metaphor, something that in the Chinese case is part of the deep structure of Confucian political thinking and is therefore probably easier to nurture than to extirpate. I don’t doubt that propaganda has a role in this, but I would assert that its role is generally exaggerated in American thinking about China. In any case, if you’ll indulge some pop psychological speculation, I’ll go out on a limb and posit confidently that external criticism of a leadership will tend to, if anything, reinforce a citizenry’s identification with the state and blur the lines even more between “government” and “people.” Perhaps I’m wrong. But most people I know who are known to bitch occasionally about their own parents get awfully defensive when people outside the family offer unsolicited criticism. This seems especially to be the case with mothers. And so it is that many ordinary Chinese citizens, online and inevitably aware now of the timbre of China discourse in English-language media, tend to elide criticism of the state and Party with criticism of China, and take it personally. They feel a distinct sense of having been singled out for unfair criticism and will reach easily for handy explanations: Hegemonic America can't abide another serious power rising in the world, and just wants to sow discord and strife to keep China down; America needs to create a boogyman, an enemy to replace its fallen Cold War foe and placate its military-industrial complex. And in any case, America doesn't appreciate just how far we've come under the leadership of this party, however imperfect. People will debate what the Party’s real role has been in poverty alleviation: is it accurate to say that the Chinese government “lifted 300 million people from poverty” or is it more correct to say that they mostly got out of the way and allowed those people to climb out of it themselves? (I tend to like the latter phrasing). That’s not the only accomplishment in China’s 35+ years of reform that will be fought over. But the simple truth is that by many, many measures of human development, the great majority of Chinese people are undeniably better off today than they were before Deng inaugurated reform. The grand unofficial compromise, in a kind of updated Hobbesian social contract, that the Party made with the Chinese people—“You stay out of politics, we’ll create conditions in which you can prosper and enjoy many personal freedoms”—has been, on balance (and to date), a success. No thinking Chinese person of my acquaintance believes that the Party or its leadership is anything close to infallible. Most can be quite cynical about the Party, the venality of officials, the hidden factional struggles, the instinct for self-preservation. They’re fully appreciative of the Party and leadership's many shortcomings. They don’t shrink from criticizing it, either; they aren’t reflexively careful of what they say and who might be listening. But they don’t bandy words like “revolution” about casually. They tend to have a sober appreciation for what’s at stake, for the price that would have to be paid. They’re realistic enough to understand that the Party is not apt to tip its hat adieu and go gently to history's proverbial dustbin. They still believe, and not entirely without evidence, that the Party leadership is attuned to public opinion and will respond when the will of the people is made manifest. They support reform, not revolution. I’ve little doubt that desire for more formal political participation, for a renegotiation of terms in that unwritten contract, will grow stronger. That’s in the cards. You’ll get no argument from me that it’s been a raw deal for many people with very legitimate grievances. There are many who’ve broken with the Party-state, who openly or secretly dissent, whose relationship with it is entirely and irreversibly oppositional. Among these are many whose courage of conviction and towering intellects I deeply and unreservedly admire, and others who I think are mere gadflies or attention-seeking malcontents without a sense of what’s at stake. In the case of all of them, regardless of what I think of them personally, I regard it as a black mark on the Chinese leadership each time a dissident is locked up for ideology, speech, religious belief or what have you. But most Chinese people tend to be pragmatic and utilitarian; the state’s ability to deliver social goods gives it a kind of “performance legitimacy." The good (prosperity, material comfort, sovereign dignity) and the bad (a censored Internet, jailed dissidents, polluted rivers, smog) go on the scales. For now, it’s unambiguous in which direction those scales are tipping. Part III — The Anglophone Media Narrative on China and Sources of Bias If you're a denizen of the Anglophone world, your impressions of China are almost certainly formed primarily by the media that you consume. There are of course exceptions: some 100,000 Americans have, in the last five years, spent time working or studying in China; there are several thousand enrolled in East Asian Studies graduate programs, or taking serious upper-division undergraduate coursework on China, or pursuing an academic discipline that focuses on China; and there are probably a few thousand more who, for personal reasons, have taken more than a passing interest in China and have read a good number of books on contemporary China or on modern Chinese history, have undertaken the study of Chinese, or have otherwise immersed themselves in trying to gain a deeper understanding of China. Taken together, though, these people represent a small percentage of the general media-consuming audience—the college-educated American who, say, reads a paper once in a while, watches cable or network news with fair regularity, listens to NPR on her drive to work, and occasionally clicks on a China-related tweet or on a friend's Facebook page, or her counterpart elsewhere in the Anglophone world. All told, that's several tens of millions of people, I'm guessing, in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. It's worth reflecting on that, for this majority of news-consumers, impressions of China are almost entirely dependent on the reporting produced, at least regularly and in the main, by probably fewer than a hundred individuals. I'm talking about the reporters for the major newswires like Reuters, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, and AP, whose stories appear not only in the major papers and on news portals online, but also in smaller metropolitan and even local markets; the journalists who write for the major newspapers and news magazines; television news reporters; and the foreign desk editors, subeditors, and producers working with the reporters. There are also the news assistants, unsung heroes without whom many of the China-based reporters who haven't mastered enough Chinese to read local media or documents, or conduct interviews in the native tongue of their interviewees, would be unable to do their jobs. If we include them, the number perhaps doubles but it's still no more than 200, perhaps 250 individuals whose contributions to the gathering, reporting, writing, and editing of news and the creation of news-related commentary actually matters. What, though, do we really know about these people? If this is the lens through which so many Americans (once again, I'll remind folks that "American" here is really shorthand for Anglophone westerners) view China, it seems to me very sensible that we should wish to understand something about the optical properties of that lens. Does it distort? Of course it does; it could notbut distort, could notbut offer only a partial and selective view—this mere few score of reporters trying to present a picture of the world's most populous nation as it hurtles ahead with unprecedented force (in the f=ma sense). This is not an indictment. These are people who I very much respect—indeed, the very people who these days comprise most of my personal circle of friends—and they are people who have my sympathy for what they must often endure in reporting from China. It's not an easy place to report from, especially if you're reporting on things that the Chinese government, or someone at least, doesn't want reported—and what else, after all, really qualifies as news reporting? They are subjected to some pretty shabby treatment, everything from the talk-to-the-hand they'll get from government ministries, to veiled and not-so-veiled threats related to visa renewals, to roughing-up by local thugs or plainclothes cops or even uniformed ones, to surveillance and harassment. I think if there's a source of bias with which I'd start my list, it's this. Seems only natural that this kind of treatment of a journalist anywhere would beget less than rosy coverage of the institutions doling it out. Negative coverage begets more of that nasty treatment, and so on in a most un-virtuous circle. Should the journalists be faulted for focusing on the things that power, whether political or corporate, wants to hide? No, I don't think so. Rightly or wrongly—and I'm unambivalent in my personal belief that it's "rightly"— this is what gets the journo juices flowing. Journalism is not about the quotidian. The historian Will Durant once wrote in The Age of Faith, "We must remind ourselves again that the historian, like the journalist, is forever tempted to sacrifice the normal to the dramatic, and never quite conveys an adequate picture of any age." I would note that while the historian can write enormously lengthy monographs in which some of that normal can be restored and that picture made more adequate, the journalist just doesn't have that leisure, and his sacrifice of the normal is more forgivable. And yet it has an impact on perception; it's still a source of distortion, of bias. This failure to focus on the more "normal" is, I would assert, one of the major reasons for the disconnect at the heart of the original question: the prevalence among Americans of "Why don't you hate your government as much as I think you ought to?" One of the more regrettable outcomes of this particular bias in the way China is reported reflects in the (notional, educated, mainstream-media-consuming) American public's understanding of the Chinese intellectual. Reporters tend to focus not just on critical intellectuals but on the more outspokenly critical ones, on the full-blown dissidents, on the very vocal activists, on the writers who challenge the establishment on human rights issues, on freedom of speech, on rule of law, on religious policy, on minority nationality policy and so forth. Of course they focus on these people; they're "the dramatic," in Durant's phrase. They set out to excite so no wonder that many of them are exciting. They play to the American love of the underdog. They flatter American values. It's right, I believe, to focus on intellectuals. One could make a very serious argument that China's history is at some important levels driven by the dynamics of the relationship between intellectuals and state power, whether dynastic or Party. Dissidents and the more stridently critical intellectuals certainly are part of that dynamic. But I would submit that it's actually more important to understand another type of intellectual, and another mode of relations between the intellectuals and state power, between, if you will, the pen and the sword: the "loyal opposition," who during most times—including this time—comprise the real mainstream, and who see it as their role to remonstrate and to criticize but not to fully confront. It's these voices, a kind of "silent majority," to use an apt phrase whatever its connotations in the American polity, who go too often ignored in our reporting. Because "Noted Chinese scholar is basically okay with the government, though he thinks it could be improved in X, Y, and Z" is not a particularly grabby headline or a compelling read. There's also a kind of source bias that's related to this and it's regrettably caught in a bit of a feedback loop, too. The general impression is that Anglophone media is pro-dissident, and so dissidents will tend to go on record with or speak at greater length with Anglophone reporters; moderate or pro-Party intellectuals will tend to decline interviews and comment, and the impression that Anglophone media is biased in favor of the dissidents gets reinforced: the narrative that they want is buttressed while the other is marginalized or weakened. Another almost ineradicable bias in Anglophone media reporting, so prevalent that it's almost not worth pointing out, is bias in favor of democratic polities. Authoritarian states like China tend to get reported on unfavorably because they behave like authoritarian states. They don't allow, by definition, rival political parties to freely form. They don't allow a free press. They censor the Internet. And of course journalists in the Anglophone world are themselves on the front lines of these speech and press issues. It's almost tautological that the press of the free world would want to free the press of the world.
The Dark Side of Direct Response Copywriting (LONG POST)
1. Into the void...
It wasn't til a couple years ago that I realized how much money is in financial and health direct response copywriting. At first I was like "Holy shit, this is awesome, it's the perfect job for me, I'll make so much money and have fun doing it." But the more I learned about it, the more I realized it's an extremely...gray area industry. And in many cases...dangerous. Not in a fake way either. More like...copywriting can ACTUALLY kill people, or potentially make them suicide, or otherwise screw up their lives. Such as by bankrupting their retirement accounts, or discouraging them from seeking life-saving medical treatment by promoting alternative medicines. It took a couple years to really grasp the implications. In fact, I suspect lots of aspiring copywriters (and even active copywriters) don't even realize how deepdark it gets. So in this post we're going to examine the dark side of direct response copywriting. We'll do it mostly through the lens of unregulated financial copywriting. Similar themes apply to health and similar niches. But first...disclaimer... I'm NOT claiming to be an ethical "gatekeeper" or have some kind of moral high ground. I think we should all try to find our limits and stick to them...and this is merely my attempt at finding mine. But to be really clear. I'm no moral authority, and this post isn't shaming or policing anyone. I ain't your dad. He went to get smokes a long time ago. I'm just trying to follow a line of reasoning and see where it goes. If it resonates with anyone else—good. If not, that's fine too. So kindly don't crawl up my ass if you feel attacked, lol. But make no mistake, direct response copywriting is a loaded gun.
2. Investing crash course
Alpha (the Greek letter α): A strategy's ability to beat the market, or its "edge." Performance on a risk-adjusted basis. An alpha of zero means your returns are exactly proportional to the risk taken. Alpha above zero means you are beating the market, aka getting higher than expected returns in proportion to your risk. Another way to think about alpha: the value that a portfolio manager adds or subtracts from a fund's return. Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH): States that all assets sell for their true intrinsic value, and that there is "no free lunch." In other words, there is no way to consistently beat the market, because all info is priced into current asset prices. Put another way, consistent alpha generation is impossible unless you are insider trading, regardless of strategy used (fundamental analysis, technical analysis, etc). Thus it is impossible to consistently beat the market by expert asset selection or market timing. The only way to obtain higher returns is to purchase riskier investments. Technically, the EMH is only a "hypothesis". The mere existence of market bubbles means it is an imperfect theory. If all assets truly always sold for their intrinsic value, bubbles would never happen. Which they clearly do. However... Practically speaking, the EMH is "as good as true" for people like you and me. And for financial Gurus. Because even professional fund managers fail to beat the market over long enough time horizons. This is WELL documented in detail in books like A Random Walk Down Wall Street. And if Wall Street experts with all the research and resources in the world...can't beat the market...how the fuck do you expect to? For most investors, the ONLY winning investment strategy is long-term index fund holding. Anything else is speculation and not investing. The upshot is this: wallstreetbets and day traders etc. are operating PURELY on superstition and cognitive bias. And Gurus are no more able to predict the market than professional fund managers, who on average fail to do so. Some tiny proportion of daytraders will make money over the long run, due to sheer statistical probability. For example...Peter Lynch. However, they incorrectly attribute their success to skill rather than mere luck, thus leading others to the incorrect belief that they can beat the odds.
3. Free will
When philosophers discuss free will, it's typically in the context of determinism. In other words, are our thoughts and actions pre-determined by physical events on the quantum/atomic level? Or, is consciousness supra-physical or meta-physical and therefore we really DO have free will? In my opinion, all that matters is that we ACT as if we have free will, so practically speaking the answer is yes. However, it is far more interesting to ask the question from a psychological point of view, rather than philosophical. Which almost never happens. When you do that, you realize most people don't really have free will. Because they go through life ruled by their unconscious desires. Repeating the same destructive behaviors over and over, as if in a trance. For example, when you piss away hours scrolling through Reddit...and wonder where the time went, and vow you'll get your shit together tomorrow. Or when you guzzle a sleeve of Oreos and be like "That wasn't worth it" but then you do it again next week...and the week after that... When you repeat destructive behaviors and only "snap out of it" and regret it afterwards, you acted unconsciously. And when you act unconsciously...you do not actually have free will.
4. What direct response copywriting REALLY is
It is the weaponized opposite of psychoanalysis. (Think Freud) Psychoanalysis aims to make more of the unconscious...conscious. By increasing your awareness of your unconscious desires, you increase your ability to overcome them. Whereas direct response copywriting aims to provoke action by actively manipulating unconscious desires and complexes. You try to get the prospect to enter the trance-like state where they buy based on [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow#Two_systems](Kahneman's System 1), bypassing or overcoming the more rational system 2. You are basically trying to put them into an Oreo-guzzling state of hypnosis...except with the goal of them buying your product rather than eating a sleeve of Oreos. You are basically reducing their free will.
5. Why does direct response copy seem scammy?
Since direct response copywriting is "weaponized anti-psychoanalysis", it is only natural that profit-seeking copywriters target people's deepest and most personal insecurities and desires. Because those desires have the highest profit potential. That is why the biggest direct response niches are Health, Wealth, and Relationships/Sex. Everyone knows that real personal change is not possible in these areas without grueling self-work. There are NO shortcuts to true self improvement. But what sells best? Easy, fast, and effective shortcuts! Therefore, the most profitable direct response niches inevitably entail selling the most implausible "shortcuts" to fix people's deepest personal problems. In other words the profit motives PERFECTLY incentivize selling the solutions LEAST likely to succeed.
The other thing direct response copywriting is, is a tool of value creation. The perceived value of a product or service is equal to its real/intrinsic value PLUS the value created by its marketing. This is why people pay more for Smart Water than Walmart water. So what happens when a bunch of direct response copywriters build a business? They aim to create as MUCH value as possible through marketing because that is their area of expertise. And correspondingly, they put as little resources and money as possible into product development. Therefore nearly all the value has to be created through marketing, because the actual product has no intrinsic value.
Furthermore...ask yourself which professions people are preconditioned to perceive as esoteric, secretive, authoritative, and awe-inspiring? The answer is doctors in white coats, and slick finance guys in suits, driving Ferraris and handling big bucks. Medicine and finance. Health and Wealth. We are programmed to trust these authority figures...which direct response marketers know, and exploit. Truly an fortunate coincidence, for marketers, that our social programming in this regard perfectly lines up with the most profitable niches!
Let's switch gears. In this section I'll mainly quote material from an old blog called Green Laser Reviews. It was written first-hand by a guy who worked in the industry, and saw it change over time.
Up until the mid-1990′s, the financial newsletter industry was a true niche sector. The product lines of most publishers incorporated anywhere between one and a few dozen monthly newsletters that were direct-marketed to a limited “universe” of newsletter buyer names. They cost anywhere between $39 and $79 dollars, “discounted” from “published” prices of $59-129...newsletter budgets were built around the assumption that each new subscriber was worth $6 in renewal revenues a year, $6 in advertising, and $6 in list rental income. [In those days], financial newsletters provided you with well-reasoned, non-mainstream insights into how the markets work, what under-observed trends might provide opportunity, and which of the hundreds of thousands of publicly traded companies has a fair shot at going up in value. I’d even go as far that most of the financial coverage breakthroughs of the 1990′s and early 21st century were trail-blazed by newsletter editors: International investing, high-technology investing, and even the bubblicious popularity of junior mining stocks were standard newsletter fare at a time when you had to subscribe to the Asian Wall Street Journal to find out how Tokyo closed the previous day... Unless you hit the promotional jackpot, it was a by and large risky and hardscrabble way to make money. You hoped to break even on your direct marketing cost via your promo revenues (one- and two-year subscription offers), hoped to cover overhead with list rental and advertising income, and made a modest profit on renewals. This all changed in 1995 when XX...launched a fax service called Rim of Fire. It cost $5,000 a year and leveraged the speed of information transmission. Even the most efficiently timed printed newsletter took 3 days to a week to make it from the editor’s desk into the hands of the subscriber. Much could happen to share prices in between… which forced a responsible editor to limit his picks to medium-to long-term recommendations. The fax service promised to alert investors to short-time opportunities. It appealed to the more venturesome and active “traders,” rather than investors. Customers who knew what they were doing and didn’t mind spending a few thou on new sources for trading ideas. Even though they represented just a small percentage of a newsletter’s readership, the new sales they generated through these high-priced trading services went straight to the bottom line of each newsletter business. A “file” of 40,000 newsletter subscribers spending $59 on an annual subscription (and yielding $18 a head in secondary revenues) might yield 1,000 trading service members paying $2,500 per year. Most of it pure profits to the publisher. The model was so successful that by 1999, everyone with a smidge of an idea regarding investing, a kitchen table, and a fax modem had entered the newsletter business. By the time the Internet bubble popped in 2000, this model had run its course. Luckily, there was a magic cure for publishers. The harnessing of email as a push marketing tool.
In summary, financial newsletters were more or less legit, once upon a time.
There was a period when financial newsletters were at the cusp of financial information. We blazed a trail for retail investors to recognize and profit from international investing… played an influential role in the democratization of capital.
7. A Slippery Slope
From 2000 to 2010, the industry increasingly found new ways to upsell customers to higher and higher priced services and grow its margins. At the same time, the value of publishing regular, unhyped information declined due to the rise of the Internet. It was no longer possible to attract subscribers with pure information. Selling opportunities became even more crucial. Then publishers made one key breakthrough. In earlier years, services were developed by:
organic processes that used to underlie the development of a legitimate trading service...[which could] take more than a year of testing, back-testing, beta-testing until someone started writing a promo
Green Laser Reviews credits one particular promo with establishing this new paradigm:
In August 2010, however, the launch of MicroQuake Alert marked what perhaps may be the most questionable service—marketed with the most misleading and intentionally deceptive promotional copy and data...
Essentially, publishers realized that short-circuiting the expensive and slow R&D process...meant they could now fire out as many promos as their copywriters could write! In other words, they could decouple—and even entirely reverse—the normal process of the guru developing and testing a hypothesis, and then a copywriter promoting it. Now, the copywriter developed an idea first, and the guru would retroactively find investments which fit the idea. And this led to the popularity of "backtesting" as a form of proof. The problem is...anybody who has taken statistics class knows the concept of "overfitting" a model to past data. Which is exactly what "backtesting" is. You can always find patterns in data if you try fitting enough different models. But backtesting doesn't mean patterns have any predictive value. Past behavior is no guarantee of the future. Yet, that's exactly what most system promos are now. Conceits based on the fundamentally worthless premise of backtesting. So the "old" way of thoroughly beta testing and validating an investment system was thrown out, along with whatever meager chance it brought of actually identifying a true alpha opportunity—however short lived it may have been.
8. Present Day
In 2019, it's probably safe to say that MOST financial promos are the same type as "MicroQuake." What was considered an ethical lapse and aberration in 2010, is now business as usual.
“At this level of the industry, you nod and clap and pretend copywriters are geniuses no matter what fraudulent schemes they cook up… or you find yourself sidelined. Another former editor I discussed this with hit the nail on the head when he said: ‘XX (as you know) and the rest of these publishers, have no interest in a long-term relationship with the reader, or if the reader makes money. Their entire business model is designed around churning the readers and no concern for readers' profits. If a trader does well, all the better. If not, they can make him look good anyway. It’s awful.’ “It didn’t used to be that way. We worked our rear ends off for decades to turn a snake-oil industry into a viable alternative information source. So I take it very personally when I see third-rate, no-talent grifters pushing non-products, fantasy track records, criminally overblown promises.
Furthermore, efforts to rein in overblown promises backfired in an ironic way. Publishers adopted rules and hired legal editors to enforce ethical standards—but these rules were almost immediately co-opted into exact guidelines on skirting the limits of what is legal!
While these (and other) internal regulations and processes were originally implemented by publishers, holding companies, and their legal departments to introduce higher ethical standards to their businesses, individual publishers, marketers, and copywriters have by now adapted to the restrictions by circumventing what you may consider the spirit of the law and the internal regulations (“provide honest products and marketing”) by literally applying the letter of the law.
And structural factors within the publishers themselves, keeps the cycle going:
the reliance on paid-up-front, instant-gratification, multi-thousand-dollar products to generate double-digit profit margins has created extreme pressure to come up not only with ever-new promotions, but with ever-new products....the cash-flow dynamics themselves are such that each successful campaign contains the seeds of next fiscal year’s profit disaster (due to carry-over refunds and profit-based bonuses). That means the potential and frequently very real cash outflows have to be replaced with ever more shrill and fraudulent copy.
So essentially, what was once an industry selling a contrarian worldview and relatively harmless investment ideas, is now...
KNOWINGLY selling a jumble of buzzwords and unrelated, untested track record as a PROVEN “program” to make ANYONE a millionaire in a year or less [it] not only bespeaks of mere disrespect… but utter disdain for the customer, his or her dreams and fears. These days, using the letter of the law to circumvent the spirit of the law is extremely profitable. But there’s no honor in it. It’s bad juju. It’s bad for your soul.
And copywriters are square in the middle of it. It is now business as usual for copywriters to generate the initial investment idea, regardless of how little financial knowledge they have.
More than ever, this has created a kind of corporate tunnel vision that puts the creator of cash flow, the rainmaker, the copywriter, at its epicenter.
The picture is grim, but let's list all possible arguments which could justify the current state of affairs. This post is already long as fuck, so I am leaving out detailed analysis of each argument.
Fat Tails: At the tail end of statistical distributions, there are "bumps" where outlier events occur more often than probability says they will. Therefore if you pursue unlikely investment strategies, sooner or later you will get some "alpha" by hitting upon a fat-tail event. Therefore copywriters are justified in advertising unlikely or even fabricated investment ideas.
It's not actually a lie or scam, as long as all legally necessary hedging language is included.
Newsletters are mitigating damage. Even though people would make more with index funds, they want to actively trade. Following a guru will help them lose less than they otherwise would.
Libertarian argument: People are adults and can make up their own minds. You are merely giving people a choice they did not have before, and nothing is wrong with choice.
People aren't idiots. They know full well these types of predictions are unlikely to come true.
Copywriters don't decide what has value, customers do. If they don't like what you're offering, they don't buy.
Copywriting is about describing a product in the best possible light, similar to how you wouldn't put shitty photos of yourself on Tinder. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Trading is a hobby for old dudes. They want to do it, and it gives their life significance, even if they lose some money.
Sell them what they want, give them what they need. In other words, hyped up ads could be OK...if the actual advice delivered is good quality.
Many people do not want to wait 20 or 30 years to see results. They know that greater potential reward carries greater risk.
It's a matter of autonomy over one’s investments vs. paying a financial advisor.
If you promise a lower magnitude of results (e.g., 150% instead of 28,393%) it's less bad.
Financial publishing is entertainment, or alternative press. Newsletters serve more purpose than just giving hot stock picks. They also are about philosophy, government policy and personal advice.
It's like running a casino or a liquor store. You're just providing a product in the free market. You can't be responsible for what people do with it.
If you accept the EMH and "no free lunch" theories, then isn't financial copywriting just the "smart" way of participating in the market? i.e., you realize timing the market is impossible, so you profit from those who haven't come to the same conclusion.
Publishers need repeat customers to survive, and their continued existence is a testament to the value customers are getting.
Most traders' real problem is making poor, emotionally-charged decisions. Following a guru can help with this, leaving them better-off than they'd otherwise be, even if the picks aren't great.
Refunds are (usually) available.
Copywriters are "just" writers providing a service to the publisher, and therefore excused from moral culpability.
If you read the surveys and testimonials carried out by the marketing teams, you’ll see literally thousands of positive stories. It’s not always “I made xyz money”... it’s often “I love guru xyz because he’s so informative.”
Personally, I think #4 (and possibly #15) is strongest, although it seems more like a testament to the limitations of a libertarian ethical system, rather than a real justification for a copywriter to write this sort of copy.
10. Arguments Against
Summarizing the earlier discussion, Gurus and "analysts" barely do anything anymore. They rarely if ever write the newsletters, the emails, the trade alerts, or the special reports. Often they only pick companies based on what sales copywriters think will sell the most subscriptions (or the copywriter picks the companies). And backtesting is a load of crap.
If you wouldn’t want a certain scam sold to you, don’t sell it or promote it to others. It can't be right to sell advice that the copywriter himself wouldn't take, or cancer cures which he wouldn't use himself. The intent is to profit the seller at the expense of the customer, in a zero-sum way. If the whole economy worked like this, civilization would collapse. So if you're doing it, you are a detriment to society.
Some significant % of profits must be from old guys with Alzheimers and dementia.
What is legal is not necessarily ethical.
Anyone who truly believed in his or her money making idea would implement it himself, not sell the idea. If financial journalists were actually able to predict the market...they'd be running investment funds...not newsletters. (more on this later)
You might literally kill someone or make them suicide.
11. Why is the industry bigger than ever in 2019? Haven't people learned their lesson?
The answer is human nature...is a bitch. Humans are rational actors...in the service of irrational goals.
We are pattern-seeking creatures and predictions create the illusion of certainty, which we DESPERATELY desire. Even when it's illogical to do so. So financial publishing offers a feeling of certainty and protection against loss.
Financial publishing helps people see the world the way they want to. It vindicates and comforts them.
Financial publishing offers a personal relationship with confident leaders who share the reader's world view, which people want.
Financial publishing offers an alternative to the establishment, which people distrust.
Financial publishing tells people what to do. Simply put, people want and NEED to be told what to do, and will always seek it out.
People like to gamble.
Financial publishing offers unusual ideas you can't get elsewhere. After all, people know you can't get rich doing what's mainstream.
Failure in logical reasoning. No single money manager has been able to beat the market consistently. But the masses still believe that a man wearing a designer suit sitting in a nice office can bring them great returns and is justified to charge high fees to do so. They are simply unaware of the data that shows passive investing in low cost index funds is far superior than active management in the long run. Think Madoff.
Belief that they’re the exception. People truly believe that they can find those the tiny X% of funds which can beat the market.
People are driven by greed and fear.
People like to look for an edge and are lured by promises of greater returns.
At the end of the day, people JUST AREN'T RATIONAL. People often just don't do what's best, and they can't help themselves. It's human nature.
Perhaps the most undeniable and ironic proof of this...is the site StockGumshoe.com. It is a site which exists solely to "sniff out" which stocks are being teased in financial promos. Its users are skeptical enough of the publishers to NOT spend their own money on the promos... In other words they "know" it's all made up by the copywriters... Yet they simply cannot suppress their own curiosity. They can't help themselves!
the very existence of the gumshoe illustrates how effective they are: The con has worked its magic, the mark has swallowed the promise hook, line and sinker, and the only thing that keeps him from buying into it with his own money is his avarice and desire to get it for free
IMO, the Stock Gumshoe is a true testament to human vulnerability. And what's even more shocking... Is the fact that financial publishers succeed in spite of NEVER disclosing their track records. People continue buying, even though the track record is conspicuously absent. You'd think sooner or later, the public at large, would be like "Hold up. Where's the proof?" But it never happens. Believe me, if publishers could actually generate alpha, they would be RAMMING IT YOUR THROAT IN EVERY PROMO. I'll let you guess why they don't. Year after year, people's fear and greed continues to trump their better judgment. In fact the industry is bigger than it's ever been. The lesson has not been learned. And I suspect never will be. Hope springs eternal.
12. Alpha revisited, aka the nail in the coffin
Point 5 from the "Arguments Against" section deserves more elaboration. It's a point which many people fail to grasp. Here is a great explanation - I lost the original source, I believe it was a Quora topic.
Let's say that I have a seemingly sustainable track record of constructing and maintaining portfolios that generate true alpha (that is, returns in excess of expected risk adjusted returns). This is an extremely valuable skill - how do I monetize it to get the most for it?
The most direct way is to use it for myself. Since I'm generating true alpha, I should be able to use a little financial engineering to construct a portfolio the hedges away market risk and levers up the alpha - basically free money. Of course, I don't want to tell many people about my picks (maybe my dad after he signs a NDA), because if big money gets a hold of it, they'll go long the same stocks and erode my alpha. I certainly don't want to sell it to the general public because they would erase my returns and I expose myself to liability by holding positions in the equities I'm promoting.
Maybe somehow I'm this good at stock picking but my portfolio is still small. I can just take my audited returns to a hedge fund, family office, or mutual fund and sell my talents for quite a lot of money. Since they're best equipped to monetize my information, I should be able to get more from them than selling "hot tips" newsletters.
So who would sell their stock tips to the general public? People that aren't consistently generating alpha. It's still easy to sell your "skills" by recommending high beta stocks, and then as long as the market is up, you can claim your picks have beat the market! Of course, they really haven't on a risk adjusted basis, but most people that buy stock picks don't even understand how to calculate alpha or beta, so they're safe.
Green Laser agrees:
An editor who regularly turned $10,000 into $1.6 million wouldn’t bother writing flimsy newsletters—just as a lottery announcer who could pocket a mill would be auditioning for a role in a soap opera, not “help” you to become a millionaire… He’d be hired away instantly by hedge funds and investment banks. Heck, some of my editors were!
What's the upshot of all this? It's hard to say. Ultimately each copywriter has to follow his or her own truth. In the final analysis, the problem comes down to this: No one can predict the future, and any newsletter which purports to do so, is claiming the impossible. But the financial incentives encourage doing EXACTLY that. The more puffery and exaggeration you are willing to publish, the richer you get. There is a perpetual incentive away from honesty. So it's not too surprising the direction the industry went. In fact, I doubt it could have gone any other way. That said, there are a handful of smaller companies which IMO are basically ethical. In fact they are so small, I didn't even realize they existed until very recently. These are the only ones I would write for, in the current environment. It's mostly publishers which sell to a more knowledgeable tier of investor. Because I think something like "informed consent" has to be the standard. If an investor is knowledgeable enough to know no one can predict the future, then I wouldn't feel particularly bad about selling them opportunities, even if I am skeptical about them and they are somewhat hyped. Because presumably he is smart enough to use the information to make up his OWN mind, and less likely to blindly follow recommendations which ruin his life. (For Cancer cures...I admit I struggle to understand who's willing to write those under any circumstance. Although I'd love to hear a spirited defense by a health copywriter...) Of course, it's far more profitable to target newbie and clueless investors who really believe the "S.U.P.E.R. system" will make them rich. A sucker is born every minute. The bummer is... When I was a kid, I used to read Boardroom and Bottom Line magalogs... I know it's nerdy but...the copy was fun and magical. My Grandma always had them at her house. It seemed harmless. I've always had a weird affinity for direct response copy. But like many things...the reality is grimmer. The truth is... There's nothing I'd like MORE than to go write financial copy for a big publisher. You might have guessed, part of my motivation in thinking this out in so much detail, is to decide how far I'll go for money. Finance is super interesting. Copywriting is super interesting. I love the libertarian environment they promote, and how they reward competence and results. If it were 30 years ago, I feel like I could. Today...my conclusion is that I have to limit myself to the handful of smaller publishers I mentioned earlier. Even though the opportunity is much smaller. For now at least. Because if you've read Breakthrough Advertising, you know about Eugene Schwartz's Level of Market Sophistication... So one of these days, the market is going to blow up and "reset." Whether it's organically or through some kind of Federal crackdown, who knows. These companies operate under First Amendment protections which are pretty strong, but...if the Feds target you...your ass is grass. I guess we'll see how things turn out.
If you really want a mind-fuck... Smoke a fat joint and watch a financial promo... And tune into the guru's microexpressions... Lol.
This link-packed ebook is intended for people looking for the best-kept secrets on the web for buying bulk Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and other national brand gift cards at the highest discounts—accounting for speed, quality, volume and risk. Executive Summary
Buy gift cards on marketplaces
Buy gift cards with bitcoin
Fill out online surveys for gift cards
Buy directly with people online
Buy directly with people offline
Arbitrage gift cards on Amazon
Swap other gift cards for Amazon
Buy gift cards from retail stores
Earn gift cards for online work
Daily deals websites
This article covers some of the many ways to buy discount gift cards. We focus a lot of attention on Amazon gift cards since they are the largest retailer in the world and has the 2nd most gift cards in circulation. We have either purchased or researched in depth most of the sites on this list to come up with some conclusions about the fastest, safest and cheapest places to buy discount gift cards. Please remember, there is no one best place to find gift cards, the goal is to give you options. The lowest-risk gift cards with the lowest discounts are directly from that brand and at grocery stores and other retail locations (CVS, Safeway, Walgreens, etc). You will also find these 0% offers from 3rd party e-code generators like eGifter and BitPay. You can usually buy instantly and they are guaranteed forever. Slightly higher risk are the old-school secondhand gift card exchanges like CardCash, CardPool, Raise and others. They offer very small savings up to 5% off the top brands. You can pay with a credit card and they guarantee the card for up to a full year so you can gift them as gifts much easily. The highest discounted gift cards are on peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplaces with users from many different countries, like Paxful and LocalBitcoins. This also comes with the most risk and the highest amount of work. These platforms have lower regulation and majority of the trades are conducted in non-USD currency. Finally, there is an emerging category of crypto gift card exchanges that also use bitcoin to offer the same discounts as peer-to-peer marketplaces, but they have more advanced protections in place for buyers and sellers. Sites like Redeeem and Purse.io fall into this category because they can offer larger discounts on gift cards and other products but they use technology to cut out the negotiating. Cards are guaranteed for minutes, hours or days here, so this isn’t the best for gifting. Your savings (and profit margins) will depend largely on your risk tolerance, length of time you are willing to get paid, country where you are located, capital available, ability to buy alternative forms of currency (like bitcoin), the ability/willingness to ship physical products, overall time commitment, and many other factors.
1. Buy gift cards on marketplaces
Redeeem. Save 15% or more on bulk Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy gift cards with auction-style pricing buying with bitcoin. They have great support and great reviews. CardPool. Save 3-5% on hundreds of brands, including Best Buy, Target, iTunes and Lowe’s. They send the card directly to your email inbox or via USPS in 3-7 days. CardCash. Gift card marketplace that buys unwanted gift cards for less than their value and resells them at a discount to savvy shoppers across the country. Save 3-5% on hundreds of brands, very similar to CardPool. Gift Card Granny. This is a nice resource because they link to the sites that have the best deals, unfortunately they don’t index many of the bulk discount sites. Raise. One of the biggest in terms of volume. Discounted gift cards to hundreds of national brands such as Target, Southwest, Uber, Home Depot, etc. However, discounts are minimal here, ranging from 0-3%. CardCookie. A great site with great potential—currently offering 5-10% discounts but not very high volume yet. Keep them bookmarked.
2. Buy gift cards with bitcoin
Redeeem. Redeeem is a great option for buying Amazon gift cards at 20% discount or higher using bitcoin. Unlike Paxful or LocalBitcoins, they manually validate and guarantee every gift card sold on the platform and have an easier buying experience. But you will have to trade during market hours (they are only open 8 hours a day). BitPay. Raised over $72 million from investors, they’re the largest bitcoin payment processor. Download the app to buy Amazon e-codes fast at 0% discount. Paxful. With 300+ currencies to trade, Paxful’s peer-to-peer platform with millions of users in Africa offers likely the best discounts for gift cards, but there are a lot of scammers (and yelling) so be careful. You may find yourself with a lot of stolen/invalid cards and trade disputes with money at risk. LocalBitcoins. LocalBitcoins lets you buy and sell bitcoin in over 248 countries. Like Paxful, this comes with high risk and high reward. Every trade starts with a listing, similar to Craigslist, and the platform is strictly peer-to-peer. Purse. Save 10% or more on Amazon when you pay with bitcoin, or dropship products (including gift cards) to people to earn bitcoin. CardBazaar. An online secondhand gift card marketplace where you can buy and sell unwanted gift cards for cash or bitcoin. Bidali. A bitcoin payment processor that competes with BitPay and offers full-priced e-codes from Amazon and other retailers. eGifter. One of the best way to buy eGift cards quickly for friends, family and yourself without hassle. Choose from hundreds of top national brands. You can personalize your gift with an animated greeting card, photo or video greeting.
3. Fill out online surveys for gift cards
Survey Junkie. offers a massive inventory of paid surveys. Each survey is assigned a point value (most between 100-200 points) and estimated completion time. Once you accrue 1,000 points (around $10) you can cash out with a gift card. Beer Money on Reddit. This a Reddit group dedicated to making some cash on the side. Don’t know much about it. PointClub Surveys. You can earn points for completing paid online surveys. When you have enough points, you can redeem them for cash or the gift card of your choice. Gift cards can either be digital or real cards sent to you. It's that easy! OpinionOutpost. You can earn cash and rewards for the time you spend taking online surveys with points you can redeem for cash or gift vouchers to popular brands.
4. Buy directly with people online
Reddit. Reddit is used by a ton of gift card traders, but you have to be familiar with the platform and have some karma on there before using it seriously. Otherwise, your listings will just get filtered out by their algorithms. If you go in there moving quickly without reading their rules carefully you will likely get banned.
5. Buy directly from people offline
Craigslist. As you probably know, you can get anything on Craigslist. But like Paxful and LocalBitcoins, it requires a lot of negotiating and there are scammers galore. The only deals worth doing are small volume with trusted local partners. Facebook Marketplace. Although this wouldn’t be my first choice due to the randomness, there are a lot of gift cards on Facebook Marketplace—a growing platform. eBay. Older than time itself, eBay earns millions of dollars a day in gift card volume. They are fairly warm to buying and selling physical gift cards but they are cracking down on e-codes. The downsides here are shipping costs and eBay/PayPal fees which add up to over 10%. There are also a lot of international buyers on eBay taking advantage of currency exchanges, which inflates prices of gift cards above their face value. It’s an expensive place to find gift cards—but always there.
6. Arbitrage gift cards on Amazon
Amazon is unique in a lot of ways. One way in particular is that they let you buy other brands of physical gift cards with your Amazon credit balance—such as Nordstrom, Southwest, Nike, Starbucks, Google Play, iTunes, Best Buy, Lowe’s, Sephora, Hotels.com and dozens more. This opens the door for people to buy gift cards on Amazon and then sell them to CardCash, CardPool, Raise, Paxful, Reddit, LocalBitcoins, Redeeem, etc. The risk, believe it or not, is that Amazon loves shutting down people’s accounts with gift card balances frozen inside. So don't let your balances get too high and try to mimic normal behavior that doesn’t make you look like a large dropshipping business (e.g. ship to yourself, buy other products too, have a real phone number and billing address on file, etc). There are also hard quantity limits on how many gift cards you can buy for each SKU on Amazon. Your profit margin will depend on how you get Amazon credits, your ability to keep your Amazon accounts in good health, and the rate at which you sell your cards to gift card marketplaces (some let you choose your own rate, others have fixed rates), and the speed and method you want to get paid (check, ACH, bitcoin, PayPal, etc).
7. Swap other gift cards for Amazon
CardCash Amazon Exchange. This is a cool resource that CardCash built alongside Amazon to allow customers to swap out other national brands for Amazon e-codes for a small fee. The rates are comparable to what they have on the main CardCash website and the e-codes are delivered within 24 hours. It’s a cool way to jump from one brand to another if you want Amazon gift cards in particular and have another.
8. Buy gift cards from retail stores
Retail Stores. There are hundreds of physical retail store locations where you can buy physical gift cards in person (the link points to Amazon retail locations). You pay full retail price but it’s fast, safe and reliable—and you can earn 3-5% cash back with certain credit cards like Amazon Prime card.
9. Earn gift cards for online work
Mechanical Turks. Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing marketplace that makes it easier for individuals and businesses to outsource their processes and jobs. This will require a lot of work, but you can get paid in Amazon gift cards. Swagbucks. You can redeem a Amazon Gift Cards by using the Swagbucks you earn through playing, searching, discovering, answering, watching or shopping on websites that are trying to sell you things. Not very profitable but can be fun.
10. Daily deals websites
Groupon. Although not as popular as when it first launched in 2009, Groupon is still used by millions of people to get discounts on stores, experiences and even gift cards like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy. There is also a gift certificate category that has similar offers (sorry, we couldn’t find anything similar on Living Social). Amazon Daily Deals. Amazon has daily deals on many categories of products as high as 20% discount. On some occasions they will slash prices on gift cards. Amazon Treasure Truck. Amazon has a Treasure Truck that they drive around many of their Whole Foods locations they use to promote Amazon Video shows and offer 10% discount deals on food, clothing and tech. Gift Cards.me. Simple app, good reviews, worth a try. The discounts aren’t very spectacular, but they claim to have fast gift card delivery. Nimble Commerce. Not sure how long they’ll be around, but worth a shot.
On the back of your gift cards, check all the stores where that brand is accepted. For example, gift cards for Gap also work at Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta and Piper Lime. Walmart gift cards work at Sam’s Club, Amazon gift cards work at Whole Foods, and Albertsons gift cards work at Safeway, Vons and a dozen other grocery store chains in the same family. Make sure you know these sister-company store policies before you buy a brand. One limitation you may find with many stores like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy is that they have per-product purchase limits. Obviously you can create new accounts or ask friends and family to buy products for you, but some products have gift cards under many different SKU numbers—like a Christmas and Birthday version. There are also limits set for each of these individual items, not the gift card category as a whole. Finally, based on the U.S. government regulations, the maximum amount of gift cards that can be purchased in a 24 hour period by a single person $10,000. So please keep this in mind when you are out there shopping. Good luck, be honest, and happy trading! Bonus Resources
Guide to Buying from Alibaba and importing from China
I gathered my and experience and thoughts of other Reddit and Quora users and summed up in one into one blog post. An article is adapted for selling on Amazon but the principle is the same for any other business. I am hoping that I am able to create a free resource for people looking to start buying on Alibaba and importing from China. In this post, I’m gonna share spreadsheets, message templates and a strategy for calculating which supplier is best. Things to know when buying from Alibaba and importing from China *Everything is negotiable with sellers from Alibaba. Do not exaggerate when negotiating with a seller, your goal should be to get a fair deal, not a good deal. You have to be careful though because if you keep pushing on price and they believe you won’t reorder without a lower price the factories WILL sacrifice quality to meet your price. *If they are forced to lower a quote then they might use inferior materials and with the Chinese unless you’re strict and clear on what you want then quality could be a real issue. The best thing to do is to compare prices and to tell the supplier that there are other manufacturers offering this product at competitive prices. Quality and profit margin is more important than getting a good deal in my opinion. *I learned not to push too much in price since I have had already quality problems. The key to avoid this is to specify the quality you expect for the product, this is very important, size, color, materials, tolerances… with this information on the table, you can negotiate better prices. You don’t want to get a better price at the expense of lower quality. *For small initial orders, I usually offer 60% of the first quoted price. In general, I get the best price after the 2nd reorder because by that time they feel that I will be a long term customer and I normally get 30% off of the initial quote. *Try to find the original manufacturer instead of the many middleman companies there are out there. Unfortunately, in my experience, this was pretty tough since there is not much info out there for most of the companies so one doesn’t know whom to trust. Once I got lucky ordering from Aliexpress and one of the products I purchased had the manufacturers information (Website, phone) inside of the packaging. I was able to negotiate a very significant reduction in price with the manufacturer (something like a 60% price reduction compared to Aliexpress, for an expensive $70 product. *Do you use Aliexpress to test the Amazon market first? It is definitely possible, not the best course of action though. In order to find a niche that is good on Aliexpress, you need to dig extremely deep and weird, and even then it's a long shot. That’s way I always enter the market set up to succeed. If I’m ordering 15-20 units then that isn’t possible. That doesn’t give me enough units to do giveaways, get reviews, run ppc, get custom packaging made, and definitely doesn’t allow me to get to page 1. My entire plan is based on the fact I’m going to get page 1. And if I do make it to page, I need to have enough stock. With 20 units, my hands are tied and I can’t be successful. If you still want to use Aliexpress, here is the spreadsheet you can use. *Tip on finding original manufacturer. Use https://www.1688.com/ rather than www.alibaba.com, you will find mostly factories, and very few trading companies (because who the hell needs trading companies if its all domestic?). If you look at the pictures, they will have faded white words on there. Google it, then find the factory page, then find the phone number. Usually, it will be the factory. *Knowing the real value – you should have quotes from multiple manufacturers before doing this. Otherwise, what are you basing your asking price off of? Also, factor in that they are also doing business. You can’t expect them to offer you a price at their cost. They also have to make a margin. Consider that the margin you allow for them can result in non-monetary perks/benefits down the road. A good manufacturer looks to create a relationship, not just a transaction. How to avoid frauds scams when buying on Alibaba and importing from China? Finding suppliers is easy, the hard part is finding Mr.Right. Keep in mind that there are suppliers on Alibaba who will try to scam your money so always be vigilant and trust your gut feeling when sourcing for suppliers on Alibaba. If you get scammed, it might completely discourage you from further dealings with foreign trade companies. Actually, fraud is something that everyone has heard about, even you just do business with local companies. It can never be completely eliminated, but it can be minimized. All you need to avoid fraud is a little precaution, observation, and knowledge. I have been using Alibaba for a while. There are 10 golden rules that I always follow when buying on Alibaba, although these methods don’t guarantee a 100% safe transaction. *Google the company which you are interested in and check their website. Does it look legit?. You can add the word “scam” to the search keywords. It is possible that past cases of fraud by that certain company have already been described on the Internet and listed in someone’s blacklist. If they are real companies, you can find their export records from many export data’s websites, such as: importgenius, tradesns, tradesparq, panjiva, etc. *Only buy from gold suppliers and look for suppliers with Trade Assurance Shop around. Is one supplier way cheaper than everyone else? If so they should probably be avoided. *Pay attention to e-mail adresses. What is their email? Is it “@gmail” or “@companyname”? An e-mail sent from [email protected] should make you think twice, as special economic zones don’t use free e-mail accounts… *See if they are professional. If they are real manufacturer, their quote is usually detailed and professional. Try to ask more professional questions. Think twice If their reply is not professional. *Onsite Check and Assessed Supplier are important, but not 100% necessary. Always request a sample. Every sample I have received they have provided for free if I paid for shipping. *Before you have anything sent to you, ask for pictures. If what you get does not match up with the pictures, ask for a refund through PayPal using the pictures as evidence. *Ask for customer references. It is impolite to ask for customer references at the beginning, but after they quote, you can do it before you pay. To be on the safe side, you can contact the references to learn more about how they work. *Make a factory tour. If you have Chinese friends, you can ask them for help. You can pay them to visit their factory and take some videos for you. Of course, if money allows, and the project is big, you can go to visit the factory in person. Avoid buying and selling counterfeit products Alibaba is not a legitimate source for branded products. Alibaba is meant for generic goods where you research to ensure that the item wasn’t patented by a brand already. It’s not a legitimate source to purchase branded inventory from because if you see something braned available on Alibaba that belongs to national brand, these are counterfeit goods which could land you in jail if you decided to sell them. An example for people that may be confused out there and sourcing branded goods from Alibaba. This is an item on Amazon that sells for a lot of money. This is a counterfeit example of that item on Alibaba WHICH YOU SHOULD NOT PURCHASE TO SELL ON AMAZON! I feel like there are likely people out there that have gotten extremely confused from going through the “guru courses” teaching them to source from Alibaba and create their own private label product to sell on Amazon FBA. I am starting to see more and more people selling truly counterfeit goods and I hope you aren’t doing it because you’re confused. As an example, this is not a legitimate product to private label. That’s truly a knockoff of a LEGO product from a couple of years back. Even though you saw it available on Alibaba and you’re trying to sell it as your own brand, you are selling counterfeit items and infringing upon the Intellectual Property of LEGO. Although you’re getting sales now, you’ll likely find yourself in a huge lawsuit down the road. The same goes for items like this. Just because you’re putting your own brand name on the product doesn’t put you in the clear. You are purchasing counterfeited items where large worldwide brands hold the patents, trademarks and licensing to and trying to sell them under your own brand. You can’t just take an exact copy of an item from one of the major brands and try to private label it as your own, even if the original brand has discontinued the item. That’s illegal in the United States or anywhere else. How should I pay for samples on Alibaba? Use PayPal but send as goods and services…they'll charge for the service fee but that’s ok. Use PayPal for payments up to around $2000, then start wiring from bank accounts. After multiple transactions ask if you can go back to PayPal and send money as friends to save money on fees on both sides. The sample should be the cost of your wholesale product + 25USD for the first kg and about 6.00 per kilo after. You should most likely be paying around 50.00 for this sample if it weighs under 5-6lbs. Which Alibaba item is becoming saturated on Amazon? An item that every second new seller recently tried to source on Alibaba. A Newer version of the garlic press. A good place to look would be on a Facebook review groups. There you could see all the new stuff coming out and look for patterns. How do you negotiate with a seller on Alibaba? Contact minimum 10 suppliers with short, clear, specific, concise questions (Write short, clear, emails. The language barrier is very real). You can use this introduction email template: Hi, My name is Peter Koch and I am the production manager for Seller At Heart, I need your help with the following. We would like to sell garlic press but we need the best possible price and MOQ information. I am happy to send you a picture as an example. We need a target price of $5 in order to make this order work. Please advise if you can make this happen. Please let me know prices for 200, 500, 750 and 1000 runs. Where in China are you located? Are you an agent, factory, or trading company? I need you to advise best possible price and also give me at least three other options of similar items that you have so that I can review them with my boss. Any qualities you can send us to pick from would also be helpful. Please send us quality standards. Also its company policy that we don’t pay for samples so I need to make sure you are able to provide me with samples. We need to check the quality of the product and make sure we are happy with the sample before we place an order. We are really looking to build stronger partnerships with new factories / and or agents. Thank you, Peter Koch Or, you can use this template… Dear, I hope you are having a great day? My name is Peter Koch and I am the buying manager of Seller At Heart. We are an ImporteBuying Office and are operating in the USA. I am writing to you today to inquire about the product I saw on your website. It is the garlic press that I am interested in. Could you please give me the following information: 1.Unit price based on 1000, 500 and 200 Pieces? 2.Minimum Order Quantity? 3.Production lead time? 4.Payment terms? 5.The type of samples you provide and shipping options (production/top of production)? I need you to give me at least three other options of similar items that you have so that I can review them with my boss. I would then evaluate and get back to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. Best regards, Peter Koch After they respond you’ll send them 2nd email template…. Hey Lee, Thanks for your response. Just wanted to give you an insight to how we work. When working with a new supplier we need to build a relationship. Therefore; we do a test orders before scaling up. You have to understand if we buy 500 units and there are problems it affects the relationship with our clients. This is how we work: We purchase 15-20 samples as a way to see the consistency of the production and pass onto our clients for initial orders from them. We place a test order of 200-300 units to ensure everything is perfect. We scale up and repeat order and grow our relationship. I understand it becomes more difficult if we were making bespoke changes to the product or require special packaging. Please can you let me know the following: Your best price for 15 – 20 samples to land at our address in the US by air? Does your prices for the 500 include our logo and labeling? What is the weight of the individual item with a poly bag? I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Regards, Peter Koch 3rd email template for Alibaba suppliers… Thanks for coming back to. I have attached our spreadsheet for remaining quote details. I have completed most of it, would you mind just filling the blanks, please? Once I have all the information I can arrange meetings with my bosses to discuss further. I would like to thank you in advance for your time in dealing with my inquiry. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Regards, Peter Koch When your suppliers all complete the spreadsheet you can then copy and paste into one and start the process of negotiating a better deal. 80-90% of suppliers will fill these out despite they get so many inquiries a day, and you think they wouldn’t bother going through all of that… The rest either resend their quote and add to the body of the email or they just add to the body of email. You need to judge the rapport thing as going in cold won’t help. If you are doing 15-20 suppliers it saves a whole heap of time. I can’t stress enough the cultural importance and shooting the breeze before going in on what you want. Be very polite and very professional at all times. It is an industry built on negotiating the penny of the pound. The bigger the order often lower the price. Like in all walks of life you have good honest people and emotionally bankrupt ones. Some will work off the basis of building longtime relationships and others just think of tomorrow. See it as a way to weed these out. The good thing about email is you can get feedback here or other places before you respond. My advice to you is to do what I did. I picked a product I had no interest in and spend time dealing with a load of suppliers right up to the point of agreeing on first wave of terms. This was a great opportunity to see problems and get a grip on how it works. I learned lots from this and built out spreadsheet templates to speed everything up. I went through all the shipping process for quoting and snagged a load of issues there also. All very insightful. I still learning now at first I danced around it with what if’s as it was daunting. I can’t recommend enough the process of just jumping in and doing it. Here one more product profitability spreadsheet you could use. When negotiating with a supplier on Alibaba to purchase a new product and import from China, what are some common additional questions you ask? *what percentage of your exports go to the US (or wherever you’re importing into). Important to understand if they have experience selling to your market *do you understand FBA packaging requirements *does the product meet the country’s certifications (if applicable) *do you offer DDP parity *what product is your factory best at producing? *what is your turnaround time? *what are your payment terms for new customers *do you use SINOSURE service In summary, there are a lot of sleazy suppliers on Alibaba, but there are also a lot of legit suppliers that would love to work with you. Do everything you can to protect yourself in a case of a scam, but don’t let it paralyze you to the point that you are not willing to pull the trigger on anything. If anyone is interested, my blog is dedicated to Amazon FBA https://selleratheart.com
Disclaimer: I do not pretend to be right or wrong, it's just another point of view, and perhaps you should evaluate if what I am saying makes or doesn't make sense, and trade/invest accordingly. Maybe I'm saying some pieces that you are missing... also I am sorry for may poor english The state of the markets is a lot more focused on oil, than on china or earnings or whatever catalyst you may think of:
low oil doesn't drive up sales for consumer goods, as one could have guessed, and also those savings in oil doesn't go to Investment. (this is bad)
China isn't growing enough, and so the oversupply wil never meet the demand of energy
low oil, actually makes more harm then good, because of lost jobs, lost salaries, those are the ones that make a real difference when the data comes out
Saudis are fine with low oil, why do they do that? Because they do not tolerate that someone could profit only if oil is higher than $50. (i.e. some american companies).
Saudis have supplies for 1 or 2 years, and their production cost is around $10-15 So, what are they doing? They keep to mantain the oversupply thus driving the prices lower, because an oversupply will meet with the demand at a lower point ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand ). Most oil related companies will go bankrupt: this is a field where you need a lot of money to operate, so you need to take billions in loans, the debt/equity of the industry is way higher than the one of other industries. They go bankrupt, lenders won't see their money back, a lot of value will be lost. (short term) Why do they drive prices low? Because, now, the requirements for margin of safety will be higher, and so a lot more money will be needed to operate with safety, given that the Saudis are in fact injecting volatility to the system, so the previous mathematical models are way less reilable. So, no more investment from investors/banks/firms/etcetc -> no possibility in exploring and expanding (or, ceteris paribus, it will be way more expensive, directly or as opportunity-cost), so the saudis are going to have the monopoly on oil. In the future the saudis won't have to actually produce this much oil, but they can just threaten to do it, they can just bluff and be a pain in the arse to anybody. Low oil prices make it the preferred resource of energy, so also there is no stimulus in using renewable energies, improving the profitablity of those, develop infrastructure that use those over oil energies. Basically the energy industry has peaked some months ago, and probably, we won't see it making new all time highs is some epocal thing happen - which we can't supppose or predict, and if it happens, nobody could have reasonably said so - The market hasn't fully understood this yet, they are all guessing, there is a lot of leverage in use, you can see by the daily swings in prices in the s&p, and by how high is trading the VIX. We have to guess what the market is hoping is going to happen, and then play accordingly. If the vast majority hopes that oil is going to $20, but it's still trading at $30, then perhaps everyone is short and so it won't go down any lower, if otherwise, the vast majority hopes that it will come back to $50 and so it's long, but it's keeps going lower, then, you need to worry because it will come down as soon as those who were long will close their position because they can't hold the pain, or has no money left, or finally understand that they can put money on something that has higher return. so, here are my thoughts, I'd like to know what do you think about it (remember anything can happen and it's ok to be wrong, it's not ok to stay wrong), and if you like to read other un-biased, out of the box thinking, I'd like you to follow me on Quora -> https://www.quora.com/profile/Marco-Venti thanks for your time
The most important steps you need to take, to start your own import-export business
I have written that post as a answer in Quora, for people who want to start their own import-export business. I belive my article is also useful in reddit First I write for people who want to import, then below are steps for exporters. For importers: In shortly, there steps you need to take First you need to find the product you import . This is also the most important and complicated step. You need to find a profitable product and at the same time product, what fits for you. To find that product, you need to conduct market research, you need to make sure what kind of product is missing on the market or imported in too low volume, so you could also fit there. I suggest allways conduct market research and start in this field with what you are familiar, experienced with. You should make this step very seriosuly, if you skip this step, then you will enter into business like “Blind” and you can only hope, that your intution was correct. Secondly, find to yourself a good custom broker and freight-forwarder. You tell them the product you want to export or import and ask them all information related to that product importation: Import duties, certificates, docs, costs etc. After you know all duties and costs, then you need real offers from suppliers. I suggest start from Alibaba. com, Just create free account there and submit buyng request for your product and soon you will get offers from suppliers all around the world. Only trust gold suppliers at least 3 years old!!! First I suggest you ask CIF offer ( CIF means product will be send to your destination), so also the transport is included the price. This way, its easier for you to calculate all costs. Later you can change to some other Incoterm term. In alibaba there are a lot of scammers and cheaters, so you should never choose the cheapest offer, choose something in middle. After you have offers, you create Excell file, include all costs related import , so you fill get your full price, after product imported to your country. Now if you have full price and information about the product, then next step, you need to talk with your buyers. You can sell to whole sellers or you can sell directly to endcustomers with online shop. Anyway, you need to talk with buyers and present your products to them and aks their feedback,opinion- are they willing to buy your products? After talking with your customers, you should have some understanding about your market and the possible demand volume and prices and profit margin. I really suggest, if you sell your product to end customers, then your profit margin must be at least 50%!! Also you need to have uniques selling point or advantage, what will lift you up from the growd. In other words, your product should be somehow better compared others ( Dont just think about compete with price!!) You should ask from customers, what problem they have now with the existing similar products. Then you can let your supplier improve or desgin your product based on the feedback from customers- then you will acuire real advantage infront of your competitors After you know all selling, product and price information, then its time to order your first order. I suggest order as small order as possible, for test order. If you are ready to order, dont forget to sign detailed buyng/selling contract. In contract you need to write everything related to quality, quantity, shipping terms, timelines and payment methods, also warranty. Ask help from lawyer with this. Also use secure payment method, If your order amount is less than 10 000 usd, then I suggest use Paypal for payments. If your supplier finish the order, then he send it to you and you wait your order arrive. Mean while prepare for selling, you should try to sell upfront, get advance payments from customers . After product arrives to your destination, then you contact with your custom brooker, send to him all docs and certificates and he will do custom for you and you will get your products after duties payd Now you are free to sell! For exporters: But if you want to export, then you need to start little differently, compared importing, then steps are follwings. If you want to export, then you must again find the product, what you can export profitably. You should start looking product from the field where you are expert or experienced. What you need to do is, you need to find product ( if you are producer, then you allready have it) to get idea, what to export, google about the items, what your country is exporting. If you have product then you type your product into alibaba and Indiamart. You need to compare your product with other similar product what are available out there allready. You need to compare following things. The prices- you compare your product price ( with what you are able to sell it) with prices out there in the alibaba, Indiamart, Ebay etc The product design, specifictions, properties, techonology- you compare how good is your product compared other. Does your product have special advanage or something what makes it uniques? Check the competition, look how many companies are selling similar product, from which country they are, to where they mostly export etc. 3. After you have checked the market and found that your product is competitive and have advantages in front of others, then you should post your product to import-export platforms, like Alibaba, Indiamart, Ebay. You need to post all needed data and information about your product and you will start to get inquiries. Also besides the online platforms, you can google the import export foorums, blogs. You could contact with your country trading department ( usually they help their citizens to find import partners) But If you found your product dont have advantage, then I suggest you try to modify, redesign your product ( make R and D), you need to make it more unique, try to add some advantages, what others dont have. You allready check the market, so you can based on that information what was out there allready. But if its clear, that you cant compete with that product, then you should choose another product and do market research again.
If you found buyers now trough online platforms or other channels, then now you need to talk with them, ask their needs, their requirements. You need to ask, what kind of certificates and documents they need for importing. NB! Its your oblication to provide to them all documents and certificates they need. You need to contact with your authorities and custom with these questions.
After all is ready and buyer want to buy, the you need to sign detailed contract with buyer and wait payment, after you received then you need to produce or provide the product, pack it accordingly and send to buyer.
Preveious was very short description of all needed steps you need to take, they dont incluce everything and they are not enought detailed. If you are importing exporting big volume and very expensive goods, then before you order, you really need to go to supplier, buyer country and check his background and be sure, they are reliable and able to produce the goods for you or they are able to buy. NB! I have serious plan, to create 100% practical and actionable materilal: an Ebook, E-course, Webinar-about how to get started import export business nowadays. Before I start creating such a great material, I need 1000 people join and interested about it. If you are seriously interested, please sign up to my email list, just click below and help me to share, if you know more people who interested! https://greatbusinessideas.leadpages.co/all-you-need-to-know-about-import-export-busines/ Follow me in quora: https://www.quora.com/profile/Martin-Kruusmaa
Margin trading entails greater risk, including, but not limited to, risk of loss and incurrence of margin interest debt, and is not suitable for all investors. Please assess your financial circumstances and risk tolerance before trading on margin. Margin credit is extended by National Financial Services, Member NYSE, SIPC. Margin Trading: Margin trading is a facility under which you buy stocks that you can’t afford with your account balance. The margin can be settled later when you square off your position. You make a profit when the profit earned is much higher than the margin, else you suffer a loss. Margin Trading. Advance Payment of a portion of the value of a Stock Transaction. The amount of credit a broker or lender extends to a customer for stock exchange. It is like borrowing money from bank to purchase asset. Here, trading member (borrower) borrow from stock broker (Bank) to purchase stock from market. Delivery Trading Margin trading refers to the practice of using borrowed funds from a broker to trade a financial asset, which forms the collateral for the loan from the broker. Incorporated in 2010, Zerodha is one of the popular online discount brokers in India. The Bengaluru based company is the largest broker in India by the trading volumes. It is also the largest stockbroker by active clients in India. Zerodha's ke...
Trading I What is Margin Trading I What is a Margin Account I Margin trading Explained 2020
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