With this article I am initiating a new series called "Face-off." My mission is identifying and writing about the best sources on a topic -- finding expertise and explaining arguments. This is in sharp contrast to most others who purport to be experts on nearly everything. By comparison, my claim is quite modest!
In this new series I plan to take a topic of interest and present opposing viewpoints. I always review comments, but I am especially interested in reactions as I develop this theme.
Background: The CFTC Takes Action
Several observers saw some humor in CFTC Chief Gary Gensler's testimony yesterday on futures trading and insider information. Matt Phillips has a nice piece calling it the "Eddie Murphy Rule" from the movie that everyone in the business loves, Trading Places. Izabella Kaminska picked up the same theme in this article.
Can an intelligent person using common sense make money trading?
What other qualifications or commitment might be required?
Readers should understand that the protagonists in "Face-off" do not know that they are participants. They have not seen the commentary of their putative opponent. This is a device for making stark contrasts in opposing viewpoints about issues. Anyone who is cited is most welcome to join in the discussion. I guarantee a complete opportunity for rebuttal. In fact, that would be helpful to everyone.
I identify opposing viewpoints and put them in stark contrast.
The Affirmative: Lind-Waldock
Anyone watching financial television has seen the commercials from my local Chicago trading firm, Lind-Waldock. Here at "A Dash" we think that futures trading is fine --making a positive contribution to market efficiency. Futures are often more efficient than ETFs. If you are good at trading futures, we have no objection to Lind-Waldock.
Are you good? Very, very good?
The omnipresent commercials on financial television suggest that nearly anyone can trade futures for a profit. (Click here to see the scenes in the gym, the airport, the office, etc.) You do not need any information nor any analytical technique. Forget about P/E ratios or even the most basic news. You already know what you need to know don't you? Don't you follow gold and oil?It reminds me of the Eddie Murphy scene where the Duke brothers explain commodities. Eddie has an intuitive feel for the markets on the breakfast plate. The implication is that nearly anyone can trade successfully.
In similar fashion, the commercials suggest that you can make money trading without much work. One of them shows a clueless guy and a smart-looking intelligent woman. She assures him that he can focus on things he "knows about" like gold and crude oil. He does not need to know about P/E ratios and CEO's.
Wow! You can make a lot of money just based upon your current "feel of the market."
(Readers should check out Joe Weisenthal's excellent piece on this theme.)
The Negative: Abnormal Returns
Providing a dose of reality for prospective traders we have some real heavyweights.
Abnormal Returns does one of their new focus pieces (very valuable -- keep them coming) on trading. Tadas skillfully leads the reader, citing two prior first-rate articles. This piece pulls it all together, citing evidence from key authorities. To understand, you really need to read the entire piece, but here are the key conclusions:
Before embarking on a sojourn into trading we need to realize the odds are stacked against success.
The point in all of this is not to dissuade anyone from becoming an active investor, or taking it to the extreme, a full-time trader.* It is helpful to recognize that many other people have tried, and failed, to do what you are trying to accomplish. Hopefully this gives you some sense of the tough task ahead of you. As they say, “forewarned is forearmed.” Consider yourself warned.
This debate is a confrontation between analysis and marketing. A strong marketing campaign does not try to change opinion. It identifies and appeals to people with a particular viewpoint. Those who have a big research budget know what investors think.
My dirt-cheap method of doing market research is to watch the advertisements of the big guys.
The televised ads, exaggerating the trading skill of the average person, are extremely powerful. By comparison, fewer people -- by a wide margin -- read the excellent work at Abnormal Returns.
The Face-off is often an unfair fight. The outcome may not be on the merits. More contests to come -- nominations welcome.