Slope of Hope Blog Posts

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A Wise Sloper Writes

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Prompted by my post about my worst trading day ever a year ago, one Slope of Hope reader wrote to me the email below. I found it thoughtful and helpful, and the writer gave his kind permission to publish it here. Thank you.

I enjoy reading your commentaries. More importantly, I admire your commercial success. To begin, expand, and ultimately sell a business reflects enormous skill and talent. And a willingness to take chances at every step.

I am a semi-retired Wall St. pro. With a 40 year history of retail broker, analyst, institutional desk manager, etc. I am most proud of the fact that I left the street financially and intellectually intact. And still earn my living today as a trader. For myself.

Having set the table, here is my observation: I read your post regarding last year being the worst day of your trading life. With follow on comment(s) about Bernanke this and that. All well and fine, except for one thing. Something I learned a long time ago: January 1980 to be precise. I had a client, a brilliant economist, writer, analyst. Who was long gold. Very long. For all the "right" reasons (yeah, you know: the weakening dollar, trade deficit, blah, blah). And when the market started to sell off, he did not budge. You see, he was long gold for all the "right" reasons. He had acted precisely as his strategy dictated.

Problem was, Gold did not care. It continued to go down, and my client was sold out (actually, he was taken away from me. In the old day's, you were not allowed to keep clients who were in margin trouble).

Anyway, know what I learned? It was my first – and best- lesson ever: When it comes to trading, there is no right or wrong. Only profit and loss. You want to maximize the former, and minimize the latter. Rest of the time, enjoy your family and friends. If you want to play at being right and wrong, become a contestant on a game show.

You are a very clever analyst, and a far cleverer (is that a word?) observer of market dynamics. I am not saying anything you don't instinctively understand. Merely commenting on what the market taught me. Repeatedly over many years, as with a 2 x 4 over the forehead. But that first lesson stood me in good graces with the trading god's.

Whatever is said this week, by whoever says it, the market will react. It always does. Our duty is to spot the opportunity, and profit from it. Not debate it.

I hope you accept this letter in the spirit it was written. I greatly admire what you have achieved. But I do have a few years head start over you in trading.