Issue 25

The Inner Dimension of Trading - John Brown

Certainly, much has been written about the mind being the key to success in trading futures markets. However, I find it remarkable that so little has been presented in terms of specific techniques traders can utilize to improve clarity of mind, focus, discipline, confidence, positivity and optimism, energy levels, etc. These are the qualities necessary to actualize the full potential of our trading abilities. Probably most would agree that the degree to which these qualities are developed will have a major impact on the trader's performance in the markets.

As a day trader, I feel that the need for optimum mental and physical skills is greatly accentuated. The intraday venue demands faster reaction time, sharper acuity of the decision making process, precise execution of trading rules in a narrow window of opportunity. The ability to quickly recover from a loss, take the next signal, pull the trigger, take all signals, deal with rapid fluctuations in the markets and equity, maintain the discipline to exit a losing trade without hesitation, never "freeze up," etc.

In working with traders during my trading seminars over the years, I have found that it is almost a universal experience that we all have to deal with these same issues. It does not appear there is any easy way out -- the skills don't come just by recognizing the need for having the skills. I believe it is necessary to work on the skills of personal development directly as opposed to merely focusing on developing trading strategies.

It would be useful for CTCN readers who have developed the internal skills for successful trading to share their knowledge and experience, as to the techniques they have employed to refine the real tools behind the trading process, the mind body integration of the trader.

I have practiced Transcendental Meditation for the past twenty years. This is a very simple mental technique practiced twice daily for twenty minutes. During the practice, the mind settles down to a state of great clarity and alertness, while the body gains a very deep level of rest. Following the practice, the mind is more clear, with the body full of energy and less restricted by stress. I feel this is the ideal state of mind and body from which one would want to enter into the markets.

Personally, I cannot imagine exposing myself to some of the crazy things that can happen intraday in the S&P, Bonds and Swiss Franc, without this preparation. I would highly recommend the practice to anyone looking for an edge over the vast majority of traders who respond in the typical panicky, stressful manner -- which some feel is actually the main driving force behind the chaotic nature of market movements.

I have also participated in the martial arts of Kung Fu and Tai Chi for the past 25 years. I find them very useful for developing the discipline, persistence, positive energy and resilience which are so valuable for the daytrading environment. The "warrior spirit," the unshakable resolve to stick with your system or trading plan, can make all the difference in the world when volatility picks up intraday.

Of course, there is a whole area of influence from what we take into the mind and body which might drastically affect trading performance as well. It is recognized that the negative effects of drugs, alcohol, wrong foods and environmental pollution, all severely impair our mental and physical capacity to deal with stress and function effectively. Someone who really wants to go all the way with their trading, should probably consider diet, exercise, routine, etc.

Perhaps the environmental influence is one of the least obvious and least recognized areas which we can enhance for better trading performance. Most daytraders and many short-term or position traders spend much time in front of computers. There has been an abundance of evidence on the negative effects of electromagnetic radiation from computers, monitors, backup power supplies, Fax machines, etc . All these electronic devices usually surround active traders. Have you ever noticed how sometimes you feel dull and drowsy, or hyped up, impatient or irritable, terribly bored and depressed with a stiff neck and creaky joints, headache and eye strain, or any other emotional or physical states which come up after some time sitting in front of the screen? I've noticed a variety of these traits myself and among many traders, who might attrib "bad moods" or negative attitudes to some recent trading losses. It might be worthwhile to consider the alternatives that these negative inner experiences may be a significant factor contributing to the losing trades.

Recently, I learned of a couple of products which are reputed to alter the field effect of electromagnetic radiation coming from computers and electronic devices, to create a more "coherent" energy field. I had setup a new much more powerful computer with a much bigger screen, feeling "wiped out" and "zapped" by all this hardware. I read about some convincing scientific research on these devices done by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Research, the Moscow Brain Research Institute, and other research centers.

I learned that the offices of the International Monetary Fund had the devices installed in all of their computers and reported positive effects from their employees. The devices are quite simple to install -- a floppy disk installed on the hard drive and a power strip in which to plug in electronic components. I began using the "Quantum Byte" two weeks ago and have been quite happy with the results. My computer screen no longer crackles with static electricity when touched. I no longer feel the draining, agitating and irritating effects from my new electronic monster. The company that developed these devices operates in my hometown. I asked about the possibility of getting a discount for quantity, as this might be of interest to many traders.

Methods I Use to Help Me Become a Successful Trader - John Moore

After trading futures for nearly 20 years, it seems to me a discretionary trader that has years of experience trading and that can control his/her emotions can do far better trading than any mechanical system. Granted, very few people have the experience, focus and emotional control to watch a number of markets every day, identify trading opportunities and act without emotion.

Some things that helped me move toward becoming a successful discretionary trader are: concentrating on no more than 4 or 5 markets; looking at monthly, weekly and daily charts each week while being aware of the developing fundamentals and psychology in the markets I'm following.

I write down what price levels and time period I feel offer a trading opportunity and review these each night. This helps with the problem of failing to put on trades due to fear, not paying attention, etc. It helps to keep an open mind and not waste time trying to predict exactly where and how far a market will move. Focus on possible opportunities and keeping losing trades small. Try to take money out of the market constantly. Don't try to make a killing on one move.

Focus on opportunities and when you sense a trend, go with it. Trade to win, don't be a perfectionist. Try to stay somewhat detached from a trade after you put it on. This helps keep emotions in check.

All discretionary traders are unique and must spend the time and effort necessary to develop their unique trading style to make consistent profits.

CTCN has many interesting articles by fellow traders. I find it full of positive and useful information.

More on Scale Trading - You Can't Lose Trading
Commodities - SF from Europe

I feel more like a professional book-reviewer now than a trader/investor. The idea of my earlier letter was to simply defend Robert Wiest's book titled "You Can't Lose Trading Commodities". If book is used correctly, the method is far from high-risk, and to suggest that you as editor of CTCN should read the book before commenting upon it's contents.

I forgot to mention that the system can be used to play the short side, but it does then become very high risk. Robert Wiest strongly advises you don't try it, I agree. While there are levels below which many commodities cannot realistically go (i.e., their cost), they can go up for years if demand continues to exceed supply, and would exhaust the equity of any trader. Soybeans at $5 would be very attractive to scale from the long side, because they simply can't drop very far. If anyone wants to be hyperconservative and construct a 800 risk-free scale, the price can't drop more than $5, can it? Set your scale for this if it makes you feel better. Most of your account equity will sit in T-bills forever, but you'll never go broke.

On the other hand, beans at $10 might look attractive from the short side, but why can't they go to $20? They could go to $40. At this moment, copper looks vaguely attractive for scaling from the short side (it's historically high, all the bad production and high consumption news seems to be in the price, and it has bounced off its record high levels many times lately), but this would be extremely dangerous. If anyone wants to bet it won't go to 160, or even 180, he's a brave man. It probably won't, but it might. It could go higher still. Scaling from the short side is possible, but suicidal in my view.

There have been some very valid points raised. Clearly, many people trying this method run into trouble, or by now word would have got around that this was idiot-proof, and everyone would be doing it. It's not foolproof. Will not generate huge profits, and is often boring! Though it works, it can be very frustrating. I suspect that most of the people who fail, do so because they run out of patience. It is easily possible to spend a month with open positions in five commodities, all of which show paper losses, without opening or closing one trade, it does lack action. If you just want action, Las Vegas is much cheaper for the average trader than the futures markets.

If one succumbs to the temptation to play in too many markets at once, the margin calls will start coming one day, and the unfortunate trader will have to liquidate all (or most) of his positions, probably in each case near to the bottom(s). Incidentally, I do find it hard to resist overtrading the system occasionally, and now try instead to get my "action" by betting just a few dollars a week on soccer. By the way, is gambling still illegal in some states in the USA?

Regarding working out whether something is cheap by historical standards, this is quite simple. The fundamentals are much harder to follow. The easiest solution I have come across to the first problem is in the book. (Sorry if I'm starting to sound like an advert. I stand to gain or lose nothing if you or ten thousand other people do or don't buy this book). Robert Wiest takes the high and low of the last ten years (or so), splits it into thirds, and only commences scales within the bottom third.

This is highly over-simplified, but readers get the idea. If you want to know all the details, you know where to look. Getting hold of, and more importantly interpreting, fundamental information, is much harder. I do most of my trading through a discount broker in the U.S.A. (blatantly ignoring Robert Wiest's advice). I put enough business through a full service brokerage in London to get the regular reports, numbers, storage details and so on. This info can help me decide the likely future direction of something based on supply and demand fundamentals.

I try hard to do this interpretation myself, for two reasons. Both important. First, if you listen to the advice of someone and just blindly take it. You not only learn no lessons if it goes wrong (you don't even learn anything if it goes right), but you are subjected to any bias in his opinion. For instance, if an analyst is very long crude oil, he will likely scrutinize a report for any piece of bullish information, while finding reasons to exclude, override or flatly deny anything bearish. Secondly, if you learn to do something like this method, you will have a skill that will make you money in the future, regardless of whether your latest guru dies, gets locked up, or simply starts misreading everything. Such ability, to me, is just priceless.

So, working out whether something is historically cheap is quite easy. The rest isn't so simple. I can't give you a mechanical way to do this analysis. I don't even know if there is one. Although far from elementary, fundamentals on crops are not so difficult to fathom out as currencies, since sentiment will override everything in these worldwide financial markets (didn't everyone say the yen was fundamentally overvalued at 97/98? I wonder what they thought when it hit 88 this week). For crops, you look at the current carry-over levels, estimates for the next crop, probable export and/or import levels, and so on. Don't rely on the weather in Iowa in June. That's guesswork, but of course you must remember it's a crucial factor. If stocks are enormous, the price will probably stay down whatever happens to the weather this year. There might be no rain, there might be three feet. If stocks are low and planting levels are low, the price will probably go up enough for a scale trader, even if the weather's perfect. If it isn't perfect, the price will soar up. On the other hand, if stocks are high, the next year's crop estimate is high and the price is at the top of its bottom third, go and find something else, because the likely direction is down, unless the weather is awful.

Unfortunately, it's not usually quite this simple. Again, if it were, everyone would do it. Read the book, you'll see that you don't need the price to go up a mile and stay up. You just need it to hop out of its bottom third for a brief period (probably a few minutes will suffice), and you're out of your scales, with profits, and can look for something else to buy (maybe the same thing, if the price drops back again).

For people who are willing to simply take the advice of Robert Wiest, he publishes a newsletter every couple of weeks or so which might help. I get this newsletter (along with many others) to help broaden my information base (and I like reading newsletters). I do not take any of his recommendations as gospel. I like to form my own opinions, and create my own scales. At the end of the day, the only person I trust is me. I don't trust some chap on the other side of the world to whom I have never spoken, despite how nice a man he seems to be (from the tone of the letters), and regardless of how grateful I am to him for writing his book.

Incidentally, his newsletter includes a guarantee account, which as I understand it promises a return of 25%. At some point in any one year period, or you get your money back. I don't follow this account, so I don't know how he's doing. I think I read somewhere, presumably in his letter or book, which he's always offered this guarantee, and has had to make refunds only once in many years of publication. I know he was hurt last year by some bad information on live hog slaughters, and has been forced to stack up umpteen contracts with big paper losses, but he seems to cash in plenty of winners elsewhere.

We all know that the price of hogs will go up again eventually, don't we? Even if it perhaps drops a bit first, it will go up soon. No farmer in his right mind is currently increasing the number of pigs he has, while the low price of pork and bacon is presumably starting to move the consumption figures higher. Furthermore, I bet he's cashed several oscillation profits on the recent price moves up.

I have stated before, my reasons for wanting to trade off my own bat and can repeat them here. I know Robert Wiest is much older than I am (he was flying in the war), and I intend to scale trade long after he stops writing his newsletter.

I can recommend that anyone with patience, read this book. I think it will provide entertaining reading. Even if they later reject the ideas as too cumbersome, boring, frustrating or whatever. But I think many people would benefit from it, and I heartily recommend it. If they want to subscribe to his newsletter, that's up to them. I'm afraid I forget how much it costs, but it wasn't a huge sum. It will probably help beginners, and certainly helped me to get started. I also maintain that the goal for most people should be to trade profitably and independently. I'll never attain the dizzy heights of $1,200 per day, but as a trader, I am a one in ten!

For the Most Part Vendor Prices are Fair & An
Incredible Bargain! - Bob Aughey

There's always lots of discussion on the subject of vendor prices, particularly trading system software. While it's certainly true there's some overpriced garbage out there, I think for the most part, pricing is fair and often an incredible bargain.

I have heard the argument that most trading system software programs are less complex to develop and program than the average word processing program, so therefore, it should cost the same or less. I think that there is an important difference, not the least of which is that software designed by large corporations for mass distribution is just that, mass distributed. Volume sales will always allow for smaller gross profit per unit. What I feel is the more important issue to support higher prices for trading software is the disclosing of valuable secrets ... trade secrets.

Why people sell their secrets is another subject for discussion, but personally, I think that plain old pride of authorship is the main reason. But back to the subject here. An incredible amount of work goes into creating a quality system that can be marketed to the trading public. That is the trading public, not the general public. After hundreds or even thousands of hours of development and testing, is it realistic to think that someone should be able to buy the product for next to nothing?

Trading system vendors sell their products to a very tiny slice of the software end-user pie. You have to wonder why anyone would devote so much time, money and expertise to market a product to such a small audience. We are fortunate that some do.

The next time you power up your PC and call up your favorite trading system, analysis or toolbox program, and at the end of the session you are armed with trading signals in which you have confidence and that have resulted in making you money in the toughest financial arena in the world, take a moment to reflect on the fact that system vendors have to make a living, just like traders and everybody else.

Lastly, when you consider the purchase of any software product, do us all a favor: Do your homework! Ask the tough questions. When you are satisfied, pay the money. You will remember the quality of the product and the support long after you have forgotten the price. Remember that knowledgeable consumers are always the best defense against Holy Grail merchants. They also make the best customers.

Editor's Note: After hearing about Bob's article (which appeared in another publication), I contacted him about it. I found what he had to say very valuable and true ... and something rarely publicly stated before. Bob authorized running it in CTCN.

Opinion on Vision Ltd Broker - David Sligar

I'm writing to convey my appreciation to the staff on my Vision trade desk. I've been an active customer for several months, and have been very happy with their handling of my account as well as with their courtesy and pleasantness.

I'm a relatively new trader. I have a separate career in another profession as well. At times, either because of my inexperience or my level of distraction, I have placed orders awkwardly or mistakenly. For example, I have given incorrect order prices. The trade desk people have always stopped such orders, waiting for clarification, saving me large amounts of money in the process. In those instances, they have gone beyond the call of duty, and I appreciate it. Thanks to all of them.

Opinion on Prime/Line - Mireille Staub

Editor's Note: This is in response to George Moldenhaur's request in April's issue for information on Jules Greenstein's Prime/Line System.

I purchased the Prime/Line system from Jules Greenstein. I learned it and used it for a while. It does offer an interesting approach to Fibonacci levels, definitely has something to it. I am not using it at the moment for various reasons. The two main reasons are: (1) it's DOS based and reads only ASCII files; (2) I use other things, including my own, that fits my trading style better.

Therefore, I am willing to lend the whole thing to George, so that he can make a firsthand opinion. The software has a restrictive license and a lock. I would need to get authorization to assign the license (I know how to work the lock) if George is interested. Let me know, and where to send it.

Review of Nature’s Pulse, Part 2 - Glenn Skirvin

Editor's Note: Glen's complete review was too long to place in this issue. Therefore, we have published Part 2 as this is the part most members would find of greater value. His complete review (along with some other info on Prime/Line) has been made into a Special Report, which is now available to all members upon request.

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed the features and capabilities of Nature's Pulse (NP), the methodology employed, the program documentation and the technical support that is available from Kasanjian Research. In this second part I will first offer a few critical comments about the features and capabilities of NP. Then I will discuss my experience with the program in actual trading situations and will delve into the question of whether it can really call market turning points with enough consistency to make it a reliable trading tool.

3. Suggested Improvements to the Program

First, while I feel that NP is an excellent tool for discovering and documenting cyclical relationships in markets, I also believe the program could use a few enhancements that would make it even more useful to traders. The program currently does not allow a user to save accordions that are set up for a particular market. Even if you save key dates in a date file, you can only access them for studies, not for use with accordions. I have ended up saving my dates in an Excel spreadsheet so that I can go back and re-create my accordion displays when I need to. How much more convenient it would be if the accordions themselves could be saved by NP and then recalled when needed by the user.

The program would be more useful to traders if it included some screen drawing capabilities. By this I mean the ability to draw trendlines, vertical lines, horizontal lines for support and resistance, and text on the chart, to name a few. A further recommended enhancement would be the inclusion of some technical indicators that could be calculated and displayed on the chart, particularly the kind that Messrs. Kasanjian and Kwong use themselves to make trading decisions at energy points.

If both of the above enhancements were implemented, the user could almost "do it all" within the NP program instead of having to switch to another technical analysis program to do part of the work. The ability to write notes on a chart would alone be a great feature addition to the program as far as I am concerned. Hopefully many of these suggestions will be implemented in the upcoming Windows version of Nature's Pulse.

4. Practical Application to Trading Situations

Now let’s talk about the practical use of the program in trading. Please keep in mind that what I am about to say here reflects only my own experience with NP. I will be the first to admit that I am a novice user of the program and have a long ways to go before I will be anything close to an expert. Others who are more capable and experienced traders than I may be able to share a completely different perspective of NP. First of all, let me say that anyone who expects NP to magically pop out accurate change-in-trend dates for a particular market is in for a rude awakening. This program is a tool that takes time and practice to master.

When I was still deciding whether or not to purchase the program, I asked Ed Kasanjian what percentage of NP forecasts turn out to be accurate. The response I got was 65%-70%. Ed’s definition of an accurate forecast is a date that falls within one day of an actual energy point. I don’t dispute Ed’s accuracy percentage, especially given the fact that he has a pretty good track record with forecasts in the Pulse Rate newsletter, but I am reminded of CSI President Bob Pelletier’s statement (Jan 95 issue of CTCN) that, depending on how one defines "turning points," anyone can predict the next turning point for a market within three days about 70% of the time just based on pure chance. Ed’s success criterion is much tighter than this, though (within one day instead of three). Moreover, he has successfully called some major trend changes for certain markets in a manner that appears to exceed what could be expected through pure chance.

In my experience with NP, I have encountered several difficulties in applying it to chosen markets. These revolve around the fact that the choice of pivot points and multiplier or static cycle files for a particular data series can be quite subjective. You'll find through exploration and experimentation that numerous cyclical relationships exist in any given market, and these can be combined in a multitude of ways to yield a variety of "answers" about when the next "energy point" (EP) should be expected. I’ve also noticed that NP cycle projections don’t always form nice neat little clusters to indicate certain dates as the "obvious" choices for a trend change.

For example, when I did my personal analysis of the S&P 500 using about 12-yrs worth of weekly and daily data, the results I came up with produced future EP dates that were different from those published by Kasanjian and Kwong in Pulse Rate. Based on their experience and expertise with this methodology, I tended to defer to their analysis rather than my own although I felt that the pivot points and multiplier files I utilized were no less intelligently selected than theirs. This phenomenon has created somewhat of a confidence crisis for me when using Nature's Pulse. How do I know when I’ve done the analysis properly and come up with the "right answer?"

The thought has occurred to me that maybe I am having difficulty because I am focusing purely on the time element in the markets rather than combining time and price the way Robert Miner and others do. NP gives you the ability to analyze price separately from time, but they cannot be combined per se. I also understand that Mr. Miner has developed his own program, Dynamic Trader, that enables a trader to analyze markets in a manner similar to the way NP does. I don’t know much about this program but perhaps another club member or Mr. Miner himself would want to comment about it.

In conclusion, Nature's Pulse is a well-designed, well-supported and easy-to-use program that will definitely facilitate ones understanding of the various cycles at work in a given market. There are many satisfied users of NP that can testify of its contribution to their trading profitability. As for me, I still have more practicing and experimentation to do with the program before I will feel confident enough to base real-time trading decisions on its prognostications.

Response for Info about Bruce Gould's "Money Machine"
System - Stephen Sayre

It's my understanding that several readers have requested information on the "Money Machine." After purchasing Bruce Gould's "Money Machine," I have found that it has lived up to its expectations, having more than paid for itself in net profits. It is a simple, but effective system.

This is not a method conducive to daytrading, but rather for the patient position trader, as it takes a certain amount of time to setup.

Dr. Gould responded quickly and completely by Fax or letter to any questions that arose when trading. However, I did find it awkward not to be able to speak with him by telephone, since no number was ever proffered before or after purchase. Many traders may be reluctant to buy a system without speaking with the vendor. I purchased based on the strength of his writings and reputation. I highly recommend any of the books written by Bruce Gould. They all contain great nuggets of insight and information regarding the markets from his many years of involvement.

CSI is an Excellent Data Service, but they to have
some problems - Terry Davis

It is interesting to read Bob Pelletier's comments bemoaning the fact that contests are not fair. Grow up - life isn't fair. You are selling a good product at a fair(?) price. I have dealt with CSI in the past and have found their data service to be excellent. However, if I had to check a box for customer service or help they give over the phone it would look like this: Rude - Ruder - Don't call us, we'll call you. For billing problems it would be: I'll get back to you soon! You didn't talk to me two weeks ago. Why are you complaining that we double charged your credit card, again.

CSI is a good and reliable company, but like so many others who are industry leaders, they have internal problems just like the rest of us.

President of CSI Responds - Bob Pelletier

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to Terry Davis' letter at the time it is printed. I appreciate Mr. Davis' kind words about the quality and reliability of our service and I wish him luck with whatever data service he is now using. I think we agree that the public forum is no place to air private gripes and billing disputes. I have urged you to print his letter, because it touches a chord that is important to me and to many of your readers.

Mr. Davis' letter strikes at a very vulnerable part of our organization. Our customer service and billing staffs are required to field hundreds of call per day; ranging the gamut from cheerful orders to aggravated tirades. My mail often includes darts and laurels for both departments, sometimes with dissenting views on the same staff member. Despite some evidence to the contrary, the CSI customer service and billing staffs strive to resolve every problem and satisfy every caller. As Mr. Davis' letter so poignantly reveals, they do not always succeed.

When I read Mr. Davis' unhappy letter, our service manager called him to see what we could do to help and to apologize. I will not offer a list of boxes to check describing his response, but I now find it easier to understand how, on a personal level, our staff may have been less than eager to help. Nevertheless, I will not tolerate rudeness nor impatience from our staff. I often take complaint calls myself in helping to solve problems and disputes. I am sorry I did not have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Davis personally about his problems.

Some troubles mentioned were caused by the recent strong demand for our services. Because our prices are among the lowest in the industry and our data products rank among the best, we have more than doubled our customer base in only the last three months. The explosive demand has temporarily overtaxed our customer service resources. We have since increased our staff to better accommodate our growing customer base.

We have also made some staffing changes in customer service and bookkeeping, which we hope will result in greater communications and better relations with all our customers. Unlike our competition, we offer two-shift customer service with Saturday help. We will continue to add additional assistance in these areas as necessary to keep up with demand.

It is our goal to keep our fees low so that data users will come to us for good reliable service. Hopefully, as the public becomes more aware, the natural tendency will be to come to CSI for a superior product, a fair price and ever-improving service.

Thank you again for the opportunity to answer Mr. Davis' concerns and thanks to him for bringing these past problems to light. We consider it a challenge to prove you wrong!

Don McCullough on Real-time Data-Part 2

At the start, I subscribed to Signal's delayed data and futures markets only. This cost me $60 a month and the Chicago markets arrived on my screen about 10-minutes delayed and the New York markets about 40-minutes delayed. Now that's delayed!

A few days ago, I changed to bonafied real-time and only the two Chicago futures exchanges. This is much more expensive than delayed time and now I pay $355 a month plus $31 a month for my cable TV service. I got the cable TV hookup mainly for the markets and receiver to connect to. That's a total of $386 per month for my real-time data. This means I'm serious about the markets or I sure as hell better be!

That delayed data was a real pain. I was constantly having to guess what the bond market was doing 10-min ahead of what I was seeing on my screen. I had a little help from Signal's free Dow Jones Industrial data that was real-time. When the DJI looked like it was strong and going to get stronger, I would sometimes buy. I also would call my broker's quote service for the latest price before making a trade. The New York markets being 40-minutes ahead of what I was looking at on my screen were totally out of the question!

I'll start trading seriously using real-time charts in a few weeks. I have to get more money to my broker, so I can afford one or two S&P contracts. It's a struggle finding out what markets you want to trade. To me, the S&P charts the best and offers the most potential, so my choice is easy. I have spent years going over charts of all the major markets as far back as the 60's, so my selection of the S&P market is for good reasons. By the way, and I won't tell you why, I think the best chartists are in the S&P market.

I nearly forgot to include an important problem I had. I don't think it's very serious now, but when it occurred, I was not happy. Seems about once or twice a year the cable TV companies do what they call a "cable sweep." That is, they check out the reception in various portions of their total area. One morning about 5:45 a.m., my MetaStock program told me my reception was poor. I immediately turned on my TV and had no reception on any channel. I then called the cable company and was told there was a "sweep" going on in my area. I lost about 14-minutes of bond market data because of that sweep.

There have been a couple of other 1-minute or so lapses in reception and some rather lengthy ones during non-market hours. I don't think this is reason for anyone to not use the cable TV hookup. I would prefer satellite reception and may eventually change over to it. Even then the Signal people tell me in cloudy, snowy and rainy areas satellite reception can fail at times. Here in California, I expect satellite would be the most dependable.

Editor's Note: Data stream interruptions are a major problem with real-time tick data. It seems to occur from time-to-time with all services, cable, FM, or satellite. The data flow interruption results in data gaps, which then negatively effects technical analysis, such as cycles, trend-lines, etc.

Hope this article will be of some help to you soon to be real-time enthusiasts. If I'm in error about anything, let me know. It'll be my gain.

I'm trying to find a book either titled or about Drummond Geometry. I read about it in one of my better market books and think it may be helpful with the markets. Can subscribers help me locate it?

Opinion on Richard Tokheim's Pork Belly
Trading System - Stephen Sayre

Rich Tokheim has a nice, effective system geared to the short side of the pork belly market. If you're a belly trader, this may be one you will want to add to your arsenal . . . not conducive to daytrading.

My Observations & Views - C.J. Casebeer

I would like to make some observations on the April issue, which was a good one.

I wonder if George Moldenhauer would give us his "few simple calculations that will give a directional reading for the next day." He is right on about having a winning approach along with discipline.

Dave Hutton of Australia sure gave good info on our minds handling no more than seven pieces of info at one time. Mine is much less! He certainly keeps his trades short - 1 to 3 days and 3 to 10 days.

His question of $15-20,000 drawdowns, no matter how large the profits, is exactly what Robert Wiest (You Can't Lose Trading Commodities book) and his adherents such as SF of Europe want to have us do. Personally, that's not the way to trade.

As for SF of Europe, he states Wiest rules "of waiting for historic low levels" which in itself makes action very limited. He implies a lot of activity such as bean meal, beans, oats, heating oil, corn, wheat, etc. But how many of those have made anywhere near historic lows? So he is not using Wiest's basic rule.

He is trying to pick bottoms and doing it in reverse of the sensible way - going long on the breakout or waiting for a Bruce Gould 1-2-3 bottom pattern. Why even subject yourself to disastrous drawdowns. These kind of trades must have an unlimited margin account, as do the fundamentalists to stay alive in this game.

Max Robinson has good tips. As for stops, I prefer mental ones. I won't setup as clay pigeons for the pit gunners. Options are another ball game I prefer to leave alone.

This leads me to remark on Wayne Roberts and Frank Richards "The Insiders Profit Matrix." I wonder just how old this is? After buying, Richards answered my letters, but really never answered my questions. The problem is I can't find any $200 puts or calls at market tops and bottoms, and I asked him about it with no answer. In fact, it is hard to find any 3-mos or longer $200 options. So this destroys the $1,500 profit rollover. The system is worthless nowadays.

I appreciate the articles on taxes. We need all the help we can get on this subject. The IRS is not fair on the way they deal with traders and investors.

I certainly would not have known of Joe Ross' physical problems until he revealed all to us. I must say he is one remarkable man to have done all he has with the curse of dyslexia.

Re: Rich Kuyser and the tippers or Hotlines, etc. Why do all the geniuses have to sell tips just as the horserace hawkers at the gates of the racetracks and elsewhere do? He says he learns from them. Very expensive tuition! Nick has good charts and info for technicians, but I do my own and do subscribe to Pocket Charts, only $50 per year.

I certainly appreciate all your efforts with CTCN. P.S. - Jim Burke's tips are right on!

Opinion on Essex Futures Pro - Heinz Kellerman

As an owner of the system program, here are my views. "Futures Pro" is a break-out system program by the Essex Trading Company and combines their former programs - *Eurotrader, Tradex 21 and Ace System"; Long, medium and short-term respectively.

What you are basically buying is a core system. You then have to add the markets you are interested in, i.e., Currencies, Grains, etc., long, medium or short-term are all extra. Usually about $200, sometimes on sale for $100, or some package deals. In other words, for the $200 you get all the currencies for long-term only, or medium-term only, or short-term only. Or $600 for all terms. I would strongly recommend, if interested, to call and ask them for their special deals at 1-800-726-2140 - since my information may be dated.

The positive points about the system are:

The company has been in business for a long time.
The people are efficient, courteous and will answer your questions in a professional manner.
The software works under "Windows" and is a joy to manipulate, with orders as you would read them directly to your broker.
The manual is executed in a professional manner and the best in line with "Omega" manuals.

The negative points about the system are:

The data bank is their own system including rollovers, which are automatic. As a result, in my case I cannot use my 35-commodity CSI data bank from Dave Green's Swing Catcher to feed Futures Pro. Of course, you may get data from CSI and other vendors. Also, you can update it manually, which is a real joy.

My biggest concern is the parameters with built-in filters. The company provides updated disks every three or more months for an extra charge. The parameters seem to be tested on 10-years or so of data.

Over the long haul, I am sure it is a money maker, but the drawdowns meanwhile are tremendous and suitable for huge bankrolls, which leaves me out. Therefore, I have stopped using it except for confirmation. In all fairness, I have not tried to calculate parameters myself for shorter periods of testing time. The company believes in 5-years minimum testing time.

That should about cover it. Again, these are my opinions only, and I hope that you get more input on this matter from other users.

Opinion on Rickerson's Market Optimizer
C. C. Collee - The Netherlands

I would like to reply on the article by Joe Dinelli, about Jeff Rickerson's Market Optimizer.

Mr. Rickerson sells his Market Optimizer system with a "proven accurate and profitable track record," which can be independently verified by the user.

As you know, one of the most important aspects of trading is confidence in the system you're trading. There is no system with entry rules and exit rules, so the track record he advertises, does not exist.

When someone writes such lies in a brochure, you do not have any confidence in the trading tools in the program. As far as Dinelli knows, he is not selling his track record, but if Mr. Dinelli wants to have a copy of his brochure in which he tries to sell his system(?) (It generates buy and sell orders on every swing high and swing low) I would gladly send it to him by Fax.

Trading for a Living - Don McCullough

December 30, 1994, l quit my regular job. I decided I knew enough to make a living trading the speculative markets. Since then I have been busy getting hooked-up to real-time data and psychologically reinforcing the validity of my signals via this data. Also, I have had a few months to see how the various futures markets chart in real-time using my signals. This last resulted in my deleting over half the markets and I think it's possible I may delete all markets except the S&P and the currencies.

Not only did I delete most of the futures markets, I also deleted about 400 stock charts. At one time, I was working many 10-hour days at my regular job and coming home and going through around 700 charts each night. Stocks and futures combined. I would sometimes fall asleep around 4:30 a.m. while trying to get through all of those charts. How very grateful I am to be done with so many charts!

I expect many people who are new to the markets have the ego problem I had and attempt to successfully trade every damn thing under the sun. There are some of the better authors who suggest that you trade only a few markets.

Regarding markets. I place the S&P market way above any of the other markets for daytrading purposes. I would rank the currencies next, especially the Swiss Franc and the German Mark. The highly rated T-Bond market is one of the poorest charting markets I've ever had the displeasure to look at. Time and again, I see the bond market making a paltry $200 move while the S&P makes a $500-1,000 move. Soybeans, Live Cattle and Pork Bellies are (in my opinion at this point in time) about the only other halfway worthy daytrading markets.

I suppose that personal freedom and the potential for great wealth are the main reasons people like me quit their regular jobs and attempt to trade successfully. Those are my reasons and the personal freedom may come before the money. Of course, the money makes the freedom possible. Also, we like the challenge, although I'm about fed-up with this part of it. Too many hours and years of studying the markets, when I could have taken that same time and had more fun. Or could I?

About personal freedom, I don't think most people even know what it is in a complete sense. After 12-16 years of schoolteacher domination, they then work as a subordinate for another 20-40 years. Just about everybody has somebody they are subordinate to for most of their life. Life is so short and look how most people think they must live it! Such a dominated lifestyle is hard to avoid, no doubt about it. The markets, especially the futures markets, offer a way out of this life long subordinate dominant bullcrap.

Hey, maybe I have the right mind-set. The great trader Marty Schwartz once said he couldn't stand most established institutions. Independent thinking? You bet. How are most people going to be able to think independently enough to find the right answers to the markets after a lifetime of domination? Good question. They are just the kind of people the book writers and seminar promoters are looking for!

I am determined to succeed at this trading business. A few years ago, I decided that I was going to make it in the markets and would do whatever it takes to get there. That decision to "do whatever it takes," is, I believe, a crucial one. Talk is cheap for sure. However, at my present stage of trading ability, I know all I have to do is consistently trade my signals-winners and losers!

Opinions on Gary Smith, George Angel, Ensign - Jim Moore

Congratulations on continued good work on your CTCN. As I continue to read these articles, I think I could answer some requests for comments. I have traded commodities off and on for 15-years. I have tried a lot of the same things the others have, so here I will give you some of my comments, mostly pertaining to S&P daytrading.

One request was comments on Gary Smith's daytrading system. I have found his Break-out System very effective, if you pay attention. Gary is very nice to work with.

A reasonably new system by George Angel and Dr. John Wang is the Spyglass am & pm for S&P daytrading. This has provided a high percent return for me so far. Dr. John is unbelievably cooperative.

I have to agree with the party that said TradeStation is a fantastic system, but their customer service is lousy. I have had to use my Technical Support friends to help me through problems. It cost me a fortune to wait on the phone for technical service to answer.

If you want good service, an 800# technical service, and a simple but effective software, try Ensign. It is a trader's dream. The only problem, no one programs their systems for the Ensign software. Let's hope this changes. June 94 issue of Stocks & Commodities had an excellent, on the nose, article by John Sweeney on the Ensign 5 product.

I'm ashamed to say that I lived within ten miles of Joe Ross in Leander, Texas and never knew about him. What a shame. Think how many dollars I could have saved or made! Now I have to take a vacation to see him. Enough said for now. Thanks again Dave for the good work.

Use of Sporadically Incorrect Data for
Historical Simulations - Buzz Ross

I'd like to share some thoughts about concern over data vendors whose data contain errors. I do not know how bad some data is, but in general, I believe the following principles apply.

For historical testing, although using perfectly correct data might be ideal for perfect optimization, I do not believe historical data needs to be this good to develop a dependable and profitable trading system for real-world use. Assuming the errors in data are relatively infrequent and not obviously absurd, there should be little concern in using this kind of data for system development and testing.

Since markets tend to look "continuous" on charts with occasional "common-sense" appearing discontinuities, you can generally spot data that is grossly in error, and estimated corrections to this kind of error can be made. Errors of a few ticks on either highs or lows of a daily range (or other sampling period) may be considered "noise." Errors in opens or closes within high-low ranges may or may not be "common-sense" detectable, so this data "noise" may be of most concern. However, although market behaviors do tend to repeat, rarely, if ever, do patterns of behavior duplicate themselves tick-for-tick.

Therefore, to assume that a trading-decision strategy must be based on high precision tick-range patterns or indicators is asking for trouble -- this would be indicative of over-optimization. Shallow-sensitivity "robust" optimization, in my opinion, is quite desirable, but steep-sensitivity optimization is likely to be disastrous. (Here, "sensitivity" refers to the change in simulation results as the characteristics of a market change over time, and shallow/steep refer to abruptness of the change.)

My presumption also takes into account the total number of trades that a strategy may generate over its useful lifetime. Fewer trades imply longer trending durations and, therefore, the "noise" relative to the magnitudes of the moves will be relatively small and insignificant. As the number of trades increases for a given lifetime, the trend durations shorten, moves generally become much less, and relative "noise" becomes more significant.

However, assuming that a sufficient number of trades are generated both in historical simulation and in real-trading so that, statistically, no single trade dominates the overall results, a robust strategy that produces consistent "small advantages" (like the casino examples in recent CTCN issues) will by design, be inherently "noise immune."

Bottom line: So what if the historical data is somewhat in error -- the future is likely to produce data that differs somewhat from the past anyway, so a profitable trading strategy for any given market should be tolerant of some reasonable variation in data, whether that data be historical or yet-to-occur as the future develops. A "good" trading system should be reasonably "noise" immune, and data that is somewhat "noisy" can be quite adequate for trading strategy development purposes.

Having said all this, would I, or could I, trust using potentially flaky recent data to create real-time trading orders, for either day-trades or position trades? If I did not want to take time to look over data for obvious gross errors before mechanically (blindly) generating trading orders, using unreliable data for this purpose could likely result in some very expensive losing trades. (There could also be some serendipitous profitable trades, but I wouldn't hold my breath!) So, in this context, having reliably accurate data is imperative and I would definitely want to use a vendor whose data I could trust.

Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and underlying design of one's trading strategy coupled with the emotional considerations of trust, confidence, and belief in that trading model would dictate the comfort level of using data that could have sporadic errors in certain ways. Even if I were willing to take time to carefully examine all data for "common-sense" correctness, I might not be too comfortable using data that would require my constant vigilance, even though my "noise immune" trading strategy would probably produce reliably profitable results over the longer term.

Bottom line: In real-time trading, for peace-of-mind, get the most reliable data available.

Opinion on Trend Dynamics - Joe Dinelli

I would like to make everyone aware of what I feel is the best educational newsletter available today. It is called "Trend Dynamics" and is written by Joseph Hart, a long-time active trader. This is purely an educational course and is sent out monthly. Mr. Hart holds nothing back and indeed provides a vehicle of learning that is straight forward and invaluable.

This course work has been going on for about 18 months. All back issues would have to be purchased to be on par with current subscribers. The cost is $59.00 per month, but is restricted to 250 subscribers.

A network of subscribers has been provided with FAX and phone numbers of fellow subscribers to fill in the void of backup, along with an " Internet discussion group" in the planning stages. I believe this will help in providing a communication network for sharing of information. All questions are answered by FAX and if found pertinent, published in the newsletter.

It is obvious, Mr. Hart has been influenced by many traders in his quest for trading perfection, but his obvious dedication to research and teaching shows through every issue. This is a true "jewel" of a newsletter and is a must for the "Higher" education of the trader.

S&P Traders Can Save With Delayed Quotes - Tom Cruckshank

Do you meet the following criteria?  For day trading you trade only the S&P . . You obtain your data from Signal.

You use the TradeStation Software.

Your place of trading is served by a cable network. If these things apply to you or you can make them apply, you can save a bundle by signing up for Signal's delayed quote service that costs only $60 per month. You say WHOA, I need my data now, not on delay.

Well here's the trick: Signal gives you all the indices real time and end of day data for all the issues for this $60. If you are familiar with Gary Smith's work, you know that the cash combined with the premium equals the nearest futures price or is close enough as not to argue. Now you receive this real-time with the delayed quote package. TradeStation, and perhaps other software, allows one to write programs that combine these prices. For TS write the following study to plot the bars in any time frame from one tick on up:


I omitted values 1 through 9 for brevity, but they are for creating the high, low, and open. Set the properties to bar high for PLOT1, bar low for PLOT2, and either a cross or a point for the open and close. Plot them in the above order and the open and close will show if given a different color from the high/Low. When you set up your chart window, be sure that the $SPX is data 1 and $PREM is data 2. Do not change inputs in the study unless you change this data order.

What about applying studies or systems? No problem! Create this user function:


This is for the close. If you wanted the other data points, just create them using this as a model. The name of this function is CSP. To apply this to a moving average for instance, put CSP(1,2), 10 in the input value area for a 10-bar average of the close.

Please note that I have never tried this ploy except on old data that I had from when I stopped receiving Signal in late 1993; also, I am using the antiquated version 2.4 of TradeStation. However, it seems to work beautifully. It wouldn't work for me anyway as I live outside the reach of a cable service. I don't know if Signal still offers the $60 deal. This may work with other delayed data vendors, I don't know. I visually inspected these bars alongside the then current contract and they were very close; certainly close enough for all but the most demanding trading. The differences appear to be magnified at price extremes where the premium or cash gets a little out of balance. It would be good if someone reading this who has the proper setup would test this and report their assessment of the idea to the readers.

The Greatest Trader in the World? - Making $300,000-$500,000
Per Month Daytrading the S&P? - Don McCullough

Marty Schwartz has got to be one of the best traders in the world. He's interviewed in Jack Schwager's first "Market Wizard" book. Marty is so good that in nine out of ten trading contests he entered, he made more money than all of the other contestants combined! This is truly outstanding.

I recently received an ad which told of the importance of having a market mentor to learn successful trading from. They listed several of the people in the "Market Wizard" book and how important a mentor was to each of them. Marty was one of the people mentioned and they went on to tell how he makes from $300-500,000 a month daytrading the S&P market. That's right, per month!

No doubt many readers are going to have a hard time believing a trader can be this good. Personally, I don't doubt it at all. When you consider that an individual trader can hold as many as 5000 S&P contracts, and considering the average daily range of $1,000 or more per contract, you can then imagine even greater profits being made. Not easily perhaps, but possible!

About 5-years ago, I read about Marty Schwartz in the first "Market Wizard" book. I decided then that he was my pick for the best trader in the book. Now, after reading about how much he is making in the S&P market, my wild guess would be that he's in the top 5 percent of all traders of all time. Like the Top Gun navy pilots, he's one of the "best of the best."

Do you suppose, it would be possible to get Marty Schwartz to contribute an article or two to this newsletter? Now wouldn't that be interesting?

Editor's Note: His address isn't in our data base. I will contact him if a member knows his address.

Favorite Book List - Don McCullough

Over my 8-9 years of market study, I've purchased, read and sometimes studied around 120 books about the speculative markets. That's around $3,000 worth and, for the most part, a whole lot of time wasted. Following are my favorites -- and boy did I ever have to wade through a lot of baloney to come up with this list!

Market Wizards, by Jack Schwager
The New Market Wizards, by Jack Schwager
Trading for A Living, by Dr. Alexander Elder
The Inner Game of Trading, by Koppel & Abell
The Outer Game of Trading, by Koppel & Abell
Market Masters, by Name Withheld
The Big Hitters, by Kevin Koy
The New Gatsbys, by Bob Tamarkin
Winning Futures Strategy, by Larry Williams.

Note that most of these books feature genuinely successful traders and not book writers, system sellers or seminar promoters posing as successful traders! I have a recently published book in which the author confesses, in the last chapter, which he's never been able to make a success of his trading. My response is: "Put that statement on the book's cover and then see how many books you sell!" Recently noticed, he's one of the speakers at a seminar. Are you getting the message?

Having Trouble Finding Book Sources
Ms. Pamela Chan from Singapore

I have been reading your CTCN newsletter. There are a few trading book recommendations which I am very interested in. They are as follows:

1. Trading is a Business - Joe Ross
2. Trading for a Living - Dr. Elder
3. Wall Street Psychologist for Trading Improvement - Ruth Roosevelt.
4. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars - Jim Paul (1994, Infrared Press)
5. A Short History of Financial Euphoria - John Kenneth Galbraith (Whittle books, 1990)
6. How to Make Profits in Commodities by Keltner & Profits in Soybeans (both out of print).

Unfortunately, the above books are not available at local bookstores. I would appreciate very much if you could tell me how I can get those books.

Editors Note: CTCN is looking for an advertiser who has (in-stock) most of the trading books mentioned in this issue, plus our past & future issues. A few months ago Ed Dobson of Traders Press had a paid advertisement in CTCN, but Ed said he received no orders or inquiries from his ad so he cancelled it. That seems very odd in view of the fact CTCN is mailed to many traders each month (in all 50-States and 34-foreign countries), many of whom are newer traders who are very interested in acquiring helpful books.

Member Requests

Dave Helminen and several other members request opinions on Randy Stuckey's Catscan from owners of it. In particular, they are asking for details on the size of drawdowns.

Scott Caldwell is a new member who would like to hear from members via CTCN who have had experience with any of the following option related info services: Don Fishback's "ODDS" video, Bernard Schaeffer's newsletter entitled "The Option Advisor," or Jon Najarian's "Super Trader's Options Trading Course for Off-Floor Traders."

Ron Zahodny wants information on Bill Williams and his Profit-atunity method.

Greg Wika wants information on Mr. VanTharp's Peak Performance Trading & Investing Course.

Frank McCord would like to be in contact with other traders in the Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida area. Call him at 813-355-7057.

Can anyone share some insight on a trading system called "Impulse" (or Impulse-80?) that appeared during the early 1980's? send contact info via CTCN

Editor Quick-Scans & Resource Guide

Dave Reiter sent me his Trading Manual for review. It consists of 44-pages (spiral-bound) of interesting and detailed information covering several trading methods Dave has used successfully in his own trading, and has developed over the last several years. Earlier, Dave sent me a large number of account statements which indicate he has had considerable trading success for some time. Dave says the methods are disclosed in his Manual.

Some of the subjects covered include Diversification & Portfolio Selection, Trading Capital required, Importance of Discipline to follow a system, Belief in Contrarion viewpoint, Time Cycles, Natural Cycles, Importance of Trading the underlying trend. I found Dave's work on both Time Cycles & "Natural" Cycles well-done. Some people may be inclined to call Dave's "Natural Cycles" - Seasonals.

Several very interesting trading systems are disclosed, both long-term & short-term. I can not vouch for their profitability. However, Dave's Trading Manual is well-done and unique and warrants close study by interested traders.

The Foundation For The Study of Cycles, (900 W. Valley Rd., Ste 502, Wayne, PA 19087 Phone 1-610-995-2120) submitted their Cycle Analysis software. For many years they contributed great cycle research.

It's an impressive and sophisticated program with many capabilities to find and display all major and minor time cycles for any commodity. The graphics are good and the programming seems well done.

However, my main criticism is that the manual that comes with it is somewhat small and doesn't seem to go into sufficient detail on many subjects. Most importantly, I didn't know how to actually use for trading purposes the vast number of cycle waves being displayed on my computer screen.

In addition, there is the basic underlying question of whether you can actually make money using time cycles. There's little question that time cycles exist. But they have a tendency to come early, or late or even skip a beat entirely, making it difficult to make money with them. However, CTCN Members who are cycle devotees should consider this program.


Special Note: Thanks to everyone who has contributed knowledge to this issue of Commodity Traders Club News. Without you it would not be possible. P.S. - Remember, as a special reward for making just one contribution/submission per year, you'll receive an automatic 50% price reduction on your renewal. Submissions can be any length, long or short; typed, handwritten or submitted on a disk. Formal or informal. Please participate by sharing your information and knowledge with other traders. Please make a contribution about your experiences, both good & bad with systems, services, advisors, data vendors, and other trading related product.

The reproduction, copying or publication of any part of this work beyond that permitted by Section 107 or 108 of the United States Copyright Act, and also World-Wide International Treaty Provisions, is unlawful. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written permission from the Publisher/Editor is required for reproduction in any form (with proper credit to CTCN, including our address and phone number being required), and may be withdrawn at any time. Commodity Traders Club News (CTCN) is a 'Clearing House' or 'Information Exchange' for members only. We do not verify, (and we have not) verified the accuracy of the mathematics or numbers published herein, or accuracy of comments and remarks made by the authors. All information and remarks in the contributions are the opinions of the author or contributor, not the Editor or CTCN. You should be aware that P&L reports and advertisements are frequently based on hypothetical (not real-time/actual) trades. Article headlines or Sub-Headlines sometimes may be changed or written solely by the Editor, using verbiage the Editor believes highlights important points being made by the contributor. CTCN Membership, which includes our bi-monthly CTCN newsletter is "Your Guide To Profitable Trading and How To Save Money Along The Way." It's regularly priced at $100 (US) for 1-year. . . and includes free postage within USA & Canada (add $20 for Overseas Air Mail). Publisher:, D.B.A. Our E-mail address is: Our Website address is Editor is Dave Green. The opinions and recommendations are those of our writers and not those of, CTCN, or its editor. (Note: There is high risk of loss in futures trading and past results may be difficult to achieve in the future and also may be based on hypothetical trading, with benefit of hindsight, and not actual trades) Note: We operate open member forums and consequently reserve the right to publish e-mail and other communications received. Therefore, please indicate "confidential" or "not-for-publication" on any e-mail or other correspondence sent us which you want kept private. Please contact us if we publish your comments and you object. Thank you.