Since the past couple of weeks have been pretty amazing, I reflected back a bit on what I was writing near the top. I still say, as I did back on the 20th, that I want some kind of medal or tiara or something if 1152 turns out to have been the ultimate top.
More importantly, I was doing a lot of hang-wringing on the very first day of the drop. Why? Because it's all about psychology at this point. What happens to bears when they've been beaten up for ten straight months? Well, they get a little skittish. So at the first sign of a profit – bam! – the temptation is to just take it and run for cover.
In spite of this temptation, I left well enough alone, and thank goodness for that. I had, at the top, posted a series of charts I thought would be interesting to short. I broke these symbols up into posts one, two, three, and four. Here, after a couple of weeks, are where those prices stand:
So a couple of small duds, but mostly quite good, and a couple of really great winners. I show the above table to illustrate how quickly some issues can lose value. Remember, this is just over a span of nine trading days.
So now what – – well, being a generally worrisome fellow to begin with, my hand-wringing hasn't stopped. Indeed, with a fat plate of paper profits in front of me, it's more tempting than ever to run for the exit and wait for the bounce (which may or may not ever happen). But – as on the 20th – I must not allow myself to close out my positions based on nothing more than the prospect of a lift in the market.
Let me share one other thought in this very un-chart-y post. There was a phenomenon I experienced back in the wonderful days of late 2008 that went something like this: the trading day would start out, my positions would be doing very badly, but in the back of my mind I knew it was actually going to be a great day. And, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, things turned around, and by the closing bell, sure enough, things ended spectacularly.
I had forgotten what that felt like, but that peculiar effect has returned. And, as difficult as it is to describe, I have felt an eerie calmness lately on those mornings when it seemed like 'the bounce' was finally here, and all my short profits were at risk. It's happened several times lately, particularly yesterday. The morning started off with very deep losses, and I simply walked away from the screen for an hour (which for me is a lifetime), knowing things were going to be OK. And I closed January at the top of my equity curve.
The experienced traders out there know there is a fine line between quiet confident/discipline and cockiness. My tool to maintain this discipline is the tedious, boring, exhausting, but absolutely essential re-setting of stops across a bazillion positions – – sometimes on a daily basis. And that's all I've got to say about that.