What is Margin call and stop out on Forex. How to ...

Former investment bank FX trader: some thoughts

Former investment bank FX trader: some thoughts
Hi guys,
I have been using reddit for years in my personal life (not trading!) and wanted to give something back in an area where i am an expert.
I worked at an investment bank for seven years and joined them as a graduate FX trader so have lots of professional experience, by which i mean I was trained and paid by a big institution to trade on their behalf. This is very different to being a full-time home trader, although that is not to discredit those guys, who can accumulate a good amount of experience/wisdom through self learning.
When I get time I'm going to write a mid-length posts on each topic for you guys along the lines of how i was trained. I guess there would be 15-20 topics in total so about 50-60 posts. Feel free to comment or ask questions.
The first topic is Risk Management and we'll cover it in three parts
Part I
  • Why it matters
  • Position sizing
  • Kelly
  • Using stops sensibly
  • Picking a clear level

Why it matters

The first rule of making money through trading is to ensure you do not lose money. Look at any serious hedge fund’s website and they’ll talk about their first priority being “preservation of investor capital.”
You have to keep it before you grow it.
Strangely, if you look at retail trading websites, for every one article on risk management there are probably fifty on trade selection. This is completely the wrong way around.
The great news is that this stuff is pretty simple and process-driven. Anyone can learn and follow best practices.
Seriously, avoiding mistakes is one of the most important things: there's not some holy grail system for finding winning trades, rather a routine and fairly boring set of processes that ensure that you are profitable, despite having plenty of losing trades alongside the winners.

Capital and position sizing

The first thing you have to know is how much capital you are working with. Let’s say you have $100,000 deposited. This is your maximum trading capital. Your trading capital is not the leveraged amount. It is the amount of money you have deposited and can withdraw or lose.
Position sizing is what ensures that a losing streak does not take you out of the market.
A rule of thumb is that one should risk no more than 2% of one’s account balance on an individual trade and no more than 8% of one’s account balance on a specific theme. We’ll look at why that’s a rule of thumb later. For now let’s just accept those numbers and look at examples.
So we have $100,000 in our account. And we wish to buy EURUSD. We should therefore not be risking more than 2% which $2,000.
We look at a technical chart and decide to leave a stop below the monthly low, which is 55 pips below market. We’ll come back to this in a bit. So what should our position size be?
We go to the calculator page, select Position Size and enter our details. There are many such calculators online - just google "Pip calculator".

https://preview.redd.it/y38zb666e5h51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=26e4fe569dc5c1f43ce4c746230c49b138691d14
So the appropriate size is a buy position of 363,636 EURUSD. If it reaches our stop level we know we’ll lose precisely $2,000 or 2% of our capital.
You should be using this calculator (or something similar) on every single trade so that you know your risk.
Now imagine that we have similar bets on EURJPY and EURGBP, which have also broken above moving averages. Clearly this EUR-momentum is a theme. If it works all three bets are likely to pay off. But if it goes wrong we are likely to lose on all three at once. We are going to look at this concept of correlation in more detail later.
The total amount of risk in our portfolio - if all of the trades on this EUR-momentum theme were to hit their stops - should not exceed $8,000 or 8% of total capital. This allows us to go big on themes we like without going bust when the theme does not work.
As we’ll see later, many traders only win on 40-60% of trades. So you have to accept losing trades will be common and ensure you size trades so they cannot ruin you.
Similarly, like poker players, we should risk more on trades we feel confident about and less on trades that seem less compelling. However, this should always be subject to overall position sizing constraints.
For example before you put on each trade you might rate the strength of your conviction in the trade and allocate a position size accordingly:

https://preview.redd.it/q2ea6rgae5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=4332cb8d0bbbc3d8db972c1f28e8189105393e5b
To keep yourself disciplined you should try to ensure that no more than one in twenty trades are graded exceptional and allocated 5% of account balance risk. It really should be a rare moment when all the stars align for you.
Notice that the nice thing about dealing in percentages is that it scales. Say you start out with $100,000 but end the year up 50% at $150,000. Now a 1% bet will risk $1,500 rather than $1,000. That makes sense as your capital has grown.
It is extremely common for retail accounts to blow-up by making only 4-5 losing trades because they are leveraged at 50:1 and have taken on far too large a position, relative to their account balance.
Consider that GBPUSD tends to move 1% each day. If you have an account balance of $10k then it would be crazy to take a position of $500k (50:1 leveraged). A 1% move on $500k is $5k.
Two perfectly regular down days in a row — or a single day’s move of 2% — and you will receive a margin call from the broker, have the account closed out, and have lost all your money.
Do not let this happen to you. Use position sizing discipline to protect yourself.

Kelly Criterion

If you’re wondering - why “about 2%” per trade? - that’s a fair question. Why not 0.5% or 10% or any other number?
The Kelly Criterion is a formula that was adapted for use in casinos. If you know the odds of winning and the expected pay-off, it tells you how much you should bet in each round.
This is harder than it sounds. Let’s say you could bet on a weighted coin flip, where it lands on heads 60% of the time and tails 40% of the time. The payout is $2 per $1 bet.
Well, absolutely you should bet. The odds are in your favour. But if you have, say, $100 it is less obvious how much you should bet to avoid ruin.
Say you bet $50, the odds that it could land on tails twice in a row are 16%. You could easily be out after the first two flips.
Equally, betting $1 is not going to maximise your advantage. The odds are 60/40 in your favour so only betting $1 is likely too conservative. The Kelly Criterion is a formula that produces the long-run optimal bet size, given the odds.
Applying the formula to forex trading looks like this:
Position size % = Winning trade % - ( (1- Winning trade %) / Risk-reward ratio
If you have recorded hundreds of trades in your journal - see next chapter - you can calculate what this outputs for you specifically.
If you don't have hundreds of trades then let’s assume some realistic defaults of Winning trade % being 30% and Risk-reward ratio being 3. The 3 implies your TP is 3x the distance of your stop from entry e.g. 300 pips take profit and 100 pips stop loss.
So that’s 0.3 - (1 - 0.3) / 3 = 6.6%.
Hold on a second. 6.6% of your account probably feels like a LOT to risk per trade.This is the main observation people have on Kelly: whilst it may optimise the long-run results it doesn’t take into account the pain of drawdowns. It is better thought of as the rational maximum limit. You needn’t go right up to the limit!
With a 30% winning trade ratio, the odds of you losing on four trades in a row is nearly one in four. That would result in a drawdown of nearly a quarter of your starting account balance. Could you really stomach that and put on the fifth trade, cool as ice? Most of us could not.
Accordingly people tend to reduce the bet size. For example, let’s say you know you would feel emotionally affected by losing 25% of your account.
Well, the simplest way is to divide the Kelly output by four. You have effectively hidden 75% of your account balance from Kelly and it is now optimised to avoid a total wipeout of just the 25% it can see.
This gives 6.6% / 4 = 1.65%. Of course different trading approaches and different risk appetites will provide different optimal bet sizes but as a rule of thumb something between 1-2% is appropriate for the style and risk appetite of most retail traders.
Incidentally be very wary of systems or traders who claim high winning trade % like 80%. Invariably these don’t pass a basic sense-check:
  • How many live trades have you done? Often they’ll have done only a handful of real trades and the rest are simulated backtests, which are overfitted. The model will soon die.
  • What is your risk-reward ratio on each trade? If you have a take profit $3 away and a stop loss $100 away, of course most trades will be winners. You will not be making money, however! In general most traders should trade smaller position sizes and less frequently than they do. If you are going to bias one way or the other, far better to start off too small.

How to use stop losses sensibly

Stop losses have a bad reputation amongst the retail community but are absolutely essential to risk management. No serious discretionary trader can operate without them.
A stop loss is a resting order, left with the broker, to automatically close your position if it reaches a certain price. For a recap on the various order types visit this chapter.
The valid concern with stop losses is that disreputable brokers look for a concentration of stops and then, when the market is close, whipsaw the price through the stop levels so that the clients ‘stop out’ and sell to the broker at a low rate before the market naturally comes back higher. This is referred to as ‘stop hunting’.
This would be extremely immoral behaviour and the way to guard against it is to use a highly reputable top-tier broker in a well regulated region such as the UK.
Why are stop losses so important? Well, there is no other way to manage risk with certainty.
You should always have a pre-determined stop loss before you put on a trade. Not having one is a recipe for disaster: you will find yourself emotionally attached to the trade as it goes against you and it will be extremely hard to cut the loss. This is a well known behavioural bias that we’ll explore in a later chapter.
Learning to take a loss and move on rationally is a key lesson for new traders.
A common mistake is to think of the market as a personal nemesis. The market, of course, is totally impersonal; it doesn’t care whether you make money or not.
Bruce Kovner, founder of the hedge fund Caxton Associates
There is an old saying amongst bank traders which is “losers average losers”.
It is tempting, having bought EURUSD and seeing it go lower, to buy more. Your average price will improve if you keep buying as it goes lower. If it was cheap before it must be a bargain now, right? Wrong.
Where does that end? Always have a pre-determined cut-off point which limits your risk. A level where you know the reason for the trade was proved ‘wrong’ ... and stick to it strictly. If you trade using discretion, use stops.

Picking a clear level

Where you leave your stop loss is key.
Typically traders will leave them at big technical levels such as recent highs or lows. For example if EURUSD is trading at 1.1250 and the recent month’s low is 1.1205 then leaving it just below at 1.1200 seems sensible.

If you were going long, just below the double bottom support zone seems like a sensible area to leave a stop
You want to give it a bit of breathing room as we know support zones often get challenged before the price rallies. This is because lots of traders identify the same zones. You won’t be the only one selling around 1.1200.
The “weak hands” who leave their sell stop order at exactly the level are likely to get taken out as the market tests the support. Those who leave it ten or fifteen pips below the level have more breathing room and will survive a quick test of the level before a resumed run-up.
Your timeframe and trading style clearly play a part. Here’s a candlestick chart (one candle is one day) for GBPUSD.

https://preview.redd.it/moyngdy4f5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=91af88da00dd3a09e202880d8029b0ddf04fb802
If you are putting on a trend-following trade you expect to hold for weeks then you need to have a stop loss that can withstand the daily noise. Look at the downtrend on the chart. There were plenty of days in which the price rallied 60 pips or more during the wider downtrend.
So having a really tight stop of, say, 25 pips that gets chopped up in noisy short-term moves is not going to work for this kind of trade. You need to use a wider stop and take a smaller position size, determined by the stop level.
There are several tools you can use to help you estimate what is a safe distance and we’ll look at those in the next section.
There are of course exceptions. For example, if you are doing range-break style trading you might have a really tight stop, set just below the previous range high.

https://preview.redd.it/ygy0tko7f5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=34af49da61c911befdc0db26af66f6c313556c81
Clearly then where you set stops will depend on your trading style as well as your holding horizons and the volatility of each instrument.
Here are some guidelines that can help:
  1. Use technical analysis to pick important levels (support, resistance, previous high/lows, moving averages etc.) as these provide clear exit and entry points on a trade.
  2. Ensure that the stop gives your trade enough room to breathe and reflects your timeframe and typical volatility of each pair. See next section.
  3. Always pick your stop level first. Then use a calculator to determine the appropriate lot size for the position, based on the % of your account balance you wish to risk on the trade.
So far we have talked about price-based stops. There is another sort which is more of a fundamental stop, used alongside - not instead of - price stops. If either breaks you’re out.
For example if you stop understanding why a product is going up or down and your fundamental thesis has been confirmed wrong, get out. For example, if you are long because you think the central bank is turning hawkish and AUDUSD is going to play catch up with rates … then you hear dovish noises from the central bank and the bond yields retrace lower and back in line with the currency - close your AUDUSD position. You already know your thesis was wrong. No need to give away more money to the market.

Coming up in part II

EDIT: part II here
Letting stops breathe
When to change a stop
Entering and exiting winning positions
Risk:reward ratios
Risk-adjusted returns

Coming up in part III

Squeezes and other risks
Market positioning
Bet correlation
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits

***
Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
submitted by getmrmarket to Forex [link] [comments]

ATO Australian tax treatment for options trades 🇦🇺

I am posting this as I hope it will help other Australian options traders trading in US options with their tax treatment for ATO (Australian Tax Office) purposes. The ATO provides very little guidance on tax treatment for options trading and I had to do a lot of digging to get to this point. I welcome any feedback on this post.

The Deloitte Report from 2011

My initial research led me to this comprehensive Deloitte report from 2011 which is hosted on the ASX website. I've been through this document about 20 times and although it's a great report to understand how different scenarios apply, it's still really hard to find out what's changed since 2011.
I am mainly relating myself to the scenario of being an individual and non-sole trader (no business set up) for my trading. I think this will apply to many others here too. According to that document, there isn't much guidance on what happens when you're an options premium seller and close positions before they expire.
Note that the ATO sometimes uses the term "ETO" (Exchange Traded Option) to discuss what we're talking about here with options trading.
Also note: The ATO discusses the separate Capital Gains Tax ("CGT") events that occur in each scenario in some of their documents. A CGT event will then determine what tax treatment gets applied if you don't know much about capital gains in Australia.

ATO Request for Advice

Since the Deloitte report didn't answer my questions, I eventually ended up contacting the ATO with a request for advice and tried to explain my scenario: I'm an Australian resident for tax purposes, I'm trading with tastyworks in $USD, I'm primarily a premium seller and I don't have it set up with any business/company/trust etc. In effect, I have a rough idea that I'm looking at capital gains tax but I wanted to fully understand how it worked.
Initially the ATO respondent didn't understand what I was talking about when I said that I was selling a position first and buying it to close. According to the laws, there is no example of this given anywhere because it is always assumed in ATO examples that you buy a position and sell it. Why? I have no idea.
I sent a follow up request with even more detail to the ATO. I think (hope) they understood what I meant now after explaining what an options premium seller is!

Currency Gains/Losses

First, I have to consider translating my $USD to Australian dollars. How do we treat that?
FX Translation
If the premium from selling the options contract is received in $USD, do I convert it to $AUD on that day it is received?
ATO response:
Subsection 960-50(6), Item 5 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) states the amount should be translated at the time of the transaction or event for the purposes of the Capital Gains Tax provisions. For the purpose of granting an option to an entity, the time of the event is when you grant the option (subsection 104-20(2) ITAA 1997).
This is a very detailed response which even refers to the level of which section in the law it is coming from. I now know that I need to translate my trades from $USD to $AUD according to the RBA's translation rates for every single trade.
But what about gains or losses on translation?
There is one major rule that overrides FX gains and losses after digging deeper. The ATO has a "$250k balance election". This will probably apply to a lot of people trading in balances below $250k a lot of the FX rules don't apply. It states:
However, the $250,000 balance election broadly enables you to disregard certain foreign currency gains and losses on certain foreign currency denominated bank accounts and credit card accounts (called qualifying forex accounts) with balances below a specified limit.
Therefore, I'm all good disregarding FX gains and losses! I just need to ensure I translate my trades on the day they occurred. It's a bit of extra admin to do unfortunately, but it is what it is.

Credit Trades

This is the scenario where we SELL a position first, collect premium, and close the position by making an opposite BUY order. Selling a naked PUT, for example.
What happens when you open the position? ATO Response:
The option is grantedCGT event D2 happens when a taxpayer grants an option. The time of the event is when the option is granted. The capital gain or loss arising is the difference between the capital proceeds and the expenditure incurred to grant the option.
This seems straight forward. We collect premium and record a capital gain.
What happens when you close the position? ATO Response:
Closing out an optionThe establishment of an ETO contract is referred to as opening a position (ASX Explanatory Booklet 'Understanding Options Trading'). A person who writes (sells) a call or put option may close out their position by taking (buying) an identical call or put option in the same series. This is referred to as the close-out of an option or the closing-out of an opening position.
CGT event C2 happens when a taxpayer's ownership of an intangible CGT asset ends. Paragraph 104-25(1)(a) of the ITAA 1997 provides that ownership of an intangible CGT asset ends by cancellation, surrender, or release or similar means.
CGT event C2 therefore happens to a taxpayer when their position under an ETO is closed out where the close-out results in the cancellation, release or discharge of the ETO.
Under subsection 104-25(3) of the ITAA 1997 you make a capital gain from CGT event C2 if the capital proceeds from the ending are more than the assets cost base. You make a capital loss if those capital proceeds are less than the assets reduced cost base.
Both CGT events (being D2 upon granting the option and C2 upon adopting the close out position) must be accounted for if applicable to a situation.
My take on this is that the BUY position that cancels out your SELL position will most often simply realise a capital loss (the entire portion of your BUY position). In effect, it 'cancels out' your original premium sold, but it's not recorded that way, it's recorded as two separate CGT events - your capital gain from CGT event D2 (SELL position), then, your capital loss from CGT event C2 (BUY position) is also recorded. In effect, they net each other out, but you don't record them as a 'netted out' number - you record them separately.
From what I understand, if you were trading as a sole tradecompany then you would record them as a netted out capital gain or loss, because the trades would be classified as trading stock but not in our case here as an individual person trading options. The example I've written below should hopefully make that clearer.
EXAMPLE:
Trade on 1 July 2020: Open position
Trade on 15 July 2020: Close position
We can see from this simple example that even though you made a gain on those trades, you still have to record the transactions separately, as first a gain, then as a loss. Note that it is not just a matter of netting off the value of the net profit collected and converting the profit to $AUD because the exchange rate will be different on the date of the opening trade and on the date of the closing trade we have to record them separately.

What if you don't close the position and the options are exercised? ATO Response:
The option is granted and then the option is exercisedUnder subsection 104-40(5) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) the capital gain or loss from the CGT event D2 is disregarded if the option is exercised. Subsection 134-1(1), item 1, of the ITAA 1997 refers to the consequences for the grantor of the exercise of the option.
Where the option binds the grantor to dispose of a CGT asset section 116-65 of the ITAA 1997 applies to the transaction.
Subsection 116-65(2) of the ITAA 1997 provides that the capital proceeds from the grant or disposal of the shares (CGT asset) include any payment received for granting the option. The disposal of the shares is a CGT event A1 which occurs under subsection 104-10(3) of the ITAA 1997 when the contract for disposal is entered into.
You would still make a capital gain at the happening of the CGT event D2 in the year the event occurs (the time the option is granted). That capital gain is disregarded when the option is exercised. Where the option is exercised in the subsequent tax year, the CGT event D2 gain is disregarded at that point. An amendment may be necessary to remove the gain previously included in taxable income for the year in which the CGT event D2 occurred.
This scenario is pretty unlikely - for me personally I never hold positions to expiration, but it is nice to know what happens with the tax treatment if it ultimately does come to that.

Debit Trades

What about the scenario when you want to BUY some options first, then SELL that position and close it later? Buying a CALL, for example. This case is what the ATO originally thought my request was about before I clarified with them. They stated:
When you buy an ETO, you acquire an asset (the ETO) for the amount paid for it (that is, the premium) plus any additional costs such as brokerage fees and the Australian Clearing House (ACH) fee. These costs together form the cost base of the ETO (section 109-5 of the ITAA 1997). On the close out of the position, you make a capital gain or loss equal to the difference between the cost base of the ETO and the amount received on its expiry or termination (subsection 104-25(3) of the ITAA 1997). The capital gain or loss is calculated on each parcel of options.
So it seems it is far easier to record debit trades for tax purposes. It is easier for the tax office to see that you open a position by buying it, and close it by selling it. And in that case you net off the total after selling it. This is very similar to a trading shares and the CGT treatment is in effect very similar (the main difference is that it is not coming under CGT event A1 because there is no asset to dispose of, like in a shares or property trade).

Other ATO Info (FYI)

The ATO also referred me to the following documents. They relate to some 'decisions' that they made from super funds but the same principles apply to individuals they said.
The ATO’s Interpretative Decision in relation to the tax treatment of premiums payable and receivable for exchange traded options can be found on the links below. Please note that the interpretative decisions below are in relation to self-managed superannuation funds but the same principles would apply in your situation [as an individual taxpayer, not as a super fund].
Premiums Receivable: ATO ID 2009/110

Some tips

submitted by cheese-mate-chen-c to options [link] [comments]

[Table] IAmA full-time Bitcoin day-trader, blogger, and explainer. I was a pro TCG player. Here until Midnight EST. AMA!

Verified? (This bot cannot verify AMAs just yet)
Date: 2014-02-20
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Questions Answers
Let's say someone was looking for a stay at home computer job, would you recommend doing what you do? Is it something you can hop into, or is it something a lot of time must be put into before considerable income comes? You handle risk and pressure well, and you don't let your emotions guide your decision-making. Professional Poker and TCG players often develop this skillset.
You have experience working with stocks, bonds, derivatives, foreign exchange, or other financial instruments. If you have a strong mathematical background, that would also likely fulfill this.
You can invest significant capital into trading while remaining financially secure if it all suddenly vanishes.
You are capable of constantly monitoring a situation, waking up in the middle of the night if an alarm goes off, etc. It requires serious dedication.
You are good at keeping up with news, understanding market psychology, and "feeling" shifts in attitude and perception among other market participants.
Of those, I'd be most cautious if you don't meet no. 3. Going bust is a real possibility--day-trading a volatile commodity is inherently extremely high-risk. Nos. 2 and 4 are the easiest to learn or force through routine. No. 1 requires a person who approaches things in an emotionally detached manner. No. 5 is something that comes with investing enough time.
Second question: I'm answering this after that big block of text because this answer will come off like a get-rich-quick scheme. Yes, you can hop into it very quickly, and you can start making very high profits very quickly. I put in a small initial investment to test the waters, and made 10% on it in a few days. If you have the right skillset, composure, and resources, yes. It is a potentially very lucrative and exciting stay-at-home job. It is not for everyone, though.
As much as it would be beneficial for me (being in the industry and all), to tell everyone it's easy and that it will help them provide for themselves I feel that people need to know the real risks that are involved. Regardless, that's all a little irrelevant. We're not playing the house, and we're not flipping coins. We're playing other investors, and we're making actual decisions. You keep saying things like "98% lose money" and "Go onto any FOREX forum, and you will see from the users posts that they pretty much all lose money" but you don't back it up. Cool, yeah, it's a zero-sum game with a rake: a little more than half of the players will lose. That's expected. They'll probably complain about it, too, huh?
Retrospect can have a very positive effect. Got any real account trading statements I can have a look at? Let's see how fast you can come up with excuses not to show me ;) I only have and need one: I have chosen not to disclose my personal valuation for privacy reasons. Same reason I've had all along. I instead publicly disclose my trades, as they happen, on my website. The posts are timestamped, and the ones that are the start of a position contain the price I entered at. Go check the posts, then go check the charts, then go check my archive. But feel free to continue to arbitrarily call my credibility into question--that makes your argument better!
What leverage do you use? In Australia the leverage is typically 100:1, perhaps that's why your not seeing how risky I deem it to be. First, our argument so far has had nothing to do with risk. Second, I told you I am leveraged 2.5:1, two posts ago. Third, you realize I'm trading Bitcoin, not ForEx, correct? And that no one in their right mind would offer 100:1 leverage on Bitcoin due to its volatility?
What's your last year's hourly salary? A year ago I was finishing up college and extricating myself from the TCG business I'd co-founded. I took very little in take-home pay over that period, but kept part ownership of the continuing business. Money isn't just about the number on your bank account--it's also about residual future income.
How many hours a week are you typically on a computer? On a computer, probably 50-55, if you add in time I spend on my phone, I'd say 65-70. Day trading takes constant watchfulness. I imagine it's like an easier version of taking care of a baby.
What are your favorite to sources of news besides waiting for it to get to the front/hot page of /Bitcoin when it's several hours old? I have an IFTTT for /BitcoinMarkets and /Bitcoin that notifies me early on about some posts.
What's the weirdest thing about your mom? She started a bookselling business online in her 50s and makes more money than me.
Or.
She's a little old lady who loves gadgets and technology.
What are your thoughts on Dogecoin and other bitcoin competitors? Do you think any have staying value? LTC.
DOGE.
NXT.
VTC.
Coins that offer something different or that have a strong community to them can be valuable prospects.
LTC is the first-mover scrypt coin - DOGE has the most non-techies interested in its success and is spreading quickly as a result - NXT is a cool generation two coin that has a lot of features BTC doesn't have - VTC is ASIC-resistant
Ok, let me spell it out to you. The retail forex market only makes up 5% of the total forex markets liquidity. The other 95% is from hedge funds and institutions. Therefore, 99% of the retail market losing their money is very possible, as that only makes up 4.95% of the whole market. Is it possible that 4.95% of the market generally loses? Yes. How is that infeasible? Nope. That's a false equivalence. It is possible that 4.95% of the market loses. It is not feasible, that, say, 99% of people with blue eyes lose. What, exactly, in empirical terms, is the difference between retail investors and hedge/institutions that causes this INCREDIBLE disparity? Would you care to respond to my above empirical argument that demonstrates that a zero-decision system is flipping a losing coin? Do you consider it feasible for 99% of people playing a 45-55 game to lose?
Are there options and/or futures markets for Bitcoin? Not really yet, but there will be more prominent ones soon. I hear about a new one pretty regularly, it seems, but nothing that seems truly legitimate has come out. I'm certainly excited for them, though.
Eventually, once Mr. Lawsky and co. get things sorted out, I'm certain we'll see a big-name investment bank start offering them.
From the time you started trading until today, what is your overall percentage return? In USD, my percentage return calculated from investment to current valuation is about 300% over a little more than 2 months.
In BTC, my percentage return calculated from investment to current valuation is about 425% over a little more than 2 months.
Using my average per-coin buy-in price, if I had just bought-and-held, I would have lost about 27% of my initial investment value.
Ben, i told you I'd be here and asking about Hearthstone first. If there's one class that needs a bit of tuning, up or down, which is it and why? I think Mage needs basic, class-level tuning. I'm not sure what needs to be done exactly, but I don't like what the Mage class power does to gameplay. I've thought some about how different it would be if it could only hit minions, and I'd want to know if Blizzard had tried that out. The Mage power is too versatile, and over the long-term I think it will prove to be problematic.
What's your favorite card? Lord Jaraxxus is my favorite card. He has a truly legendary feel to him when you play him, but your opponent can still win, even though he's very powerful.
So, where do you think we go from here? I'm currently short, but I don't expect to be so for a lot longer. I don't think we'll get past 550. I also don't expect this drop to hold on for a really long time.
I haven't seen a good, substantive rationale for what the MtGox situation really has to do with Bitcoin price. Yes, it looks bad, it certainly doesn't help with our legitimacy, but is it really worth the incredible price declines we continue to see? I don't think so. I think we are seeing these impressive declines because the price on MtGox (which is a reflection of trust in MtGox relative to Bitcoin price, not just Bitcoin price) has been declining heavily. I don't expect it to continue forever, especially not with things like the Winkdex and the accompanying ETF launching.
MtGox is basically dead to me, for now at least. The sooner everyone stops paying attention to it, the sooner we can all get back on track, which I, for one, will be quite happy about.
Do you think that it's a good thing for a game when the developers of that game discourage certain playing styles (e.g. mill decks or decks that try to win in unconventional manners) whether in hearthstone, MTG, or other TCGs? It can be. I don't want the developers metaphorically over my shoulder outlawing strategies, but I don't mind if the strategies that are "less fun" for your opponent (Draw/Go, Mill, or Hard Combo from MTG, for example) are also less powerful. Most players prefer a game where the best decks are also among the most fun, because it means that they are playing against fun decks more often. Clearly the 2-cost 3/3 will be played most often. If you fix this by making both 2-cost guys 2/2s or 3/3s, or by making one a 2/3 and the other a 3/2, then you've done something--but it's not that interesting. If you instead make the 2-cost 2/2 have text that says "While you control the 3-cost 3/3, this gets +2/+2" and you give the 3 cost 3/3 text that says "While you control the 2-cost 2/2, it has Taunt" you now have more complex cards that reward players for doing something other than just playing the best stand-alone card.
Which do you think is a better option to encourage diversity in TCGs; improving/buffing cards/decks that hardly see any play versus weakening/nerfing cards that are overwhelmingly played? This is obviously a very simplistic example, but I hope it makes the point. Games are more fun when you give players more relevant choices: buffing and nerfing cards tends not to do that as well as promoting synergies does.
Where/what is the actual money behind bitcoin? If it does exist. You might need to rephrase your question for me to understand what you're asking. If you're asking why a Bitcoin has value, the answer is the same as any other good: because someone is willing to pay it.
If you're asking why someone is willing to pay that amount, my answer would be utility.
I just got started on Bitfinex (using your referral link) and am a little intimidated. What types of trades would I recommend I try as a beginner? From there, just keep careful watch, and see what happens. Be neutral and objective toward your own hypothesis, just like in science. Don't be biased by your hopes, be focused on the reality.
So far I've only done a liquidity swap offer to try it since it seemed (nearly) risk free. Have you done any liquidity swap or is it too low in profit? If I'm not going to be able to check my computer for a day or two, or I'm uncertain of what's going to happen the next few days, I do use the liquidity swap function. It's actually very profitable, relative to traditional investments. And you're right, it is low-risk. I'm a fan. Good job selecting it if you were intimidated--that's a good place to start. As far as actually starting trading, do science. Start with a hypothesis. If you were up at 5 AM today when MtGox published their announcement, a good hypothesis might have been something like: "This announcement is going to be a blow to their credibility, and might panic the markets. We'll probably drop by some amount as a result." Invest based on it, figure out around what price you want to take profits, and at what price you'll cut your losses and get out. Stick to those determinations unless something substantive changes. The time you tell yourself you can afford to not close your position because it will "rebound" back to where you want is also the time you lose your shirt.
Is it true that you like Balloons? No, I <3 them.
Lol to the question about your mom... Ben, from my understanding Bitcoin is anonymous, does this mean that you can avoid taxation when receiving payment? Bitcoin isn't anonymous. That's actually a common misconception. It's actually pseudonymous, like Reddit. You end up with an online identity--a wallet address--that you use with Bitcoin.
If I walk up to you on a street corner and buy Bitcoin with cash, then I'm pretty much anonymous. If I buy it from a large institution like Coinbase or some other company, they will have records of the address my Bitcoin was bought for. As a result, you can trace them down, generally speaking.
As for avoiding taxation, that's a general no.
What do you think Bitcoin's biggest hurdle is and how do you think it can be overcome? Are there any misconceptions about Bitcoin that you think people have? The biggest hurdle for Bitcoin to overcome is governments. Governments have a variety of reasons not to want an alternative currency. We seem to have done pretty well on that front here in the US, but for other countries (China) that is not the case. Past that, the other major hurdle is something I consider an inevitability: consumer adoption. Business adoption has begun in earnest, consumer adoption hasn't. It will when enough businesses take Bitcoin to give it sufficient utility for the average customer.
What trading platform do you use to daytrade Bitcoin? What is the standard margin that Bitcoin brokers offer? what's the typical ask/bid spread? I primarily use Bitfinex.
Very few Bitcoin brokers currently offer leverage, Bitfinex offers 2.5:1. Over time, I anticipate it will become more like current Forex, where 10:1 or greater leverage is common.
It varies by exchange depending on their fees. Huobi charges 0% fees, so their spread is generally tiny. Some exchanges can be as wide as 1.5%. Typically, I see spreads between .5 and .7%.
Do you invest in any other type of cryptocurrency? if so, which is your favorite besides bitcoin? I currently have no other holdings, but I've held DOGE and LTC at points and am considering VTC and NXT. DOGE is probably my favorite, because if the community can keep this up for a little longer it will snowball into amaze.
Can you trade me a Jace? TMS WWK, TMS FTV, Beleren, MA, or AoT?
Beleren. M10, M11, LOR, JVC, JVCJPN, or Book Promo?
M10 and if not possible then M11. Sure.
I've been reading your blog for quite some time and especially like your summaries for recent events. Keep up the good work! Do you use strict stop-loss orders for your trades? When do you decide to close a trade? Especially in situations where you can basically see you profit/loss grow by the minute. When is enough? Do you have a longterm bitcoin investment you don't touch or do you use everything you have for trading? I do use relatively strict stop losses, but they're not stop loss orders. My conditions usually aren't just the price hitting a certain point, but instead it sustaining for a brief period, or hitting it with a certain volume, or with a certain amount of resistance to retreat. I don't want my stop loss to be triggered by some idiot who dumps 300 BTC and temporarily drops the price 15, but only ends up really dropping it 3. I am very strict with myself about this, though, generally speaking--if I can't trust promises I make to myself, what good am I?
Let's say for example you have a sum x dollar and a sum y bitcoin on your trading account. How much % of x or y do you risk at every trade? I've seen a formula for the max. amount of investment and read numerous times that traders shouldn't risk more than one or two percent of their "bankroll". Do you generally have dollar and btc or just one of them at any given time? 100% of funds in every trade, so long as all funds are easily moved into the position. Common exceptions are lack of liquidity and funds being on other exchanges. My reasoning for being all-in all-the-time is that it's a profit-maximizing move. It is also risk-maximizing. My risk tolerance is infinite; most people's isn't. Only ever one. Generally BTC if I'm long, dollar if I'm short. I prefer to double-dip, as otherwise it would be in contradiction to the 100% plan. I use everything I have for trading. Again, profit-maximization, infinite risk tolerance.
I decide a closing price when I'm near either my stop loss or my profit aim. I place a limit order or multiple limit orders wherever I need to. I avoid market orders whenever possible. Enough is when I hit my goals or my loss tolerance. I decide these at the start, but I frequently re-evaluate them as news and market conditions develop.
What is a typical bid/ask spread for Bitcoin? It depends what exchange you're looking at, but generally .5-.7%.
What's the best way to popularize Bitcoin among the masses? Add your own but would love your thoughts on: -microtransactions developing nations -gift economy (tipping) I would suggest just running around shouting "You get to be your own bank" is probably the best way.
In all seriousness, though--we don't need to try. It's going to happen on its own from now on, as the news media slowly starts to pick up the story. People will start appearing on TV talking about it with more and more frequency. Things like the Dogelympic teams are great PR and help boost it up, as well, of course, but in general it's just going to follow the adoption curve of every other technology.
If it picks up in a few developing nations that have stable internet, it will be a massive revolution for them. Self-banking can do a huge amount of good for an economy like theirs. We might see reports on that. If a major newspaper decides to run a permanent paywall like what the Sun-Times tested recently, that could be big as well. The slow PR from tipping on Reddit is another way, to be honest. Every bit helps, but the cryptocurrency community is now large enough that we're going to do a significant amount of organic, word-of-mouth style growth.
Do you think that a magic game could beat harthstone? If they do a good job, absolutely. They have to focus on the right things. It needs to be mobile-available, easy to pick up and play, and fun.
Is there a good crypto currency to get in on now, before it explodes like bitcoin did? There are plenty of options. Check out coinmarketcap.com. Fair warning, there are plenty of horrible things there--treat it kind of like penny stocks. I like BTC, LTC, DOGE, NXT, and VTC.
Also, why is it such a pain in the ass to buy them with actual money? Like you have to have bitcoins to buy other crypto currency. It's such a pain to buy them with USD because no one has made a good system to do it on, like Coinbase. If you think there's a desire, go do it!
Well the way I look at it, is how the hell else would you be able to buy them? Not everyone has piles of bitcoins lying around and I really don't want to spend $600+ on a single bitcoin just to buy some other currencies. Ah, I see the problem! You can buy fractions of a Bitcoin using Coinbase--I think .01BTC (~$6) is their minimum.
The March 2013 appreciation was from American and European investors and November 2013 was mainly from Chinese investors. Which group of people do you think will be the next to buy (I hate using the word invest when talking about bitcoin) bitcoin for investment purposes? American institutional and hobby investors. That is, Wall Street and people who pay attention to Wall Street.
Which do you think will be a better long term (~5 years) investment, Bitcoins, Litecoins, Dogecoins, Fetch Lands, Shock Lands, or Original Dual Lands? Does it change for ~10 years? Either Bitcoin or Fetch lands for 5 years. For 10 years, Bitcoin. I'd be worried about the 10-year view for paper MTG.
Ive been mining Bitcoins for years now, i have a good sum im my wallet but i never plan to use them. Does this make me a bad person? Approximately yes.
Ben, I should've simultaneously copied and pasted all of my questions from the Spreecast over to here but here are a few... It seems like the conspiracy crowd has really latched onto the idea of Bitcoin as being a discreet form of currency. If Bitcoin is backed up by the internet why would people choose having a currency that's being tracked over say cash, gold, different commodities? Having a currency be tracked has negatives and positives, but it's overwhelmingly positive for the average consumer. Because it's tracked, you don't need to pay someone to move your money for you. There also are no chargebacks, which means merchants aren't getting scammed and passing those costs onto consumers. Theft costs everyone money. It's also very fast--transactions confirm in just 10 minutes, regardless of size or where it's going. Transferring dollars from here to China is very difficult--transferring Bitcoin? Just as easy as from anywhere else to anywhere.
My job is a mix of voodoo, intuition, science, and news. In USD, my percentage return calculated from investment to current valuation is about 300% over a little more than 2 months.
No, just gambling. In BTC, my percentage return calculated from investment to current valuation is about 425% over a little more than 2 months.
Anyway, how have the profits been from start to finish compared to the market? Using my average per-coin buy-in price, if I had just bought-and-held, I would have lost about 27% of my initial investment value.
Are you willing to disclose how much you have in your trading portfolio/what kind of profit you turn both % and $ wise? In USD, my percentage return calculated from investment to current valuation is about 300% over a little more than 2 months.
In BTC, my percentage return calculated from investment to current valuation is about 425% over a little more than 2 months.
Using my average per-coin buy-in price, if I had just bought-and-held, I would have lost about 27% of my initial investment value.
What would you say is the easiest method of shorting bitcoin or any other coin? For shorting Bitcoin or Litecoin, check here.
For other coins, there isn't really a good way yet, to the best of my knowledge. A few exchanges have plans to add short-selling, but Bitfinex is really the only one I know of that has.
What did you have for breakfast today. Didn't breakfast, was delicious.
Hey Ben, I know next to nothing about Bitcoin. I went to /bitcoin after seeing this AMA on your FB, and I noticed that everyone is going apeshit over "Gox". I have no idea what that means or why everyone is so sad/angry/suicidal. MtGox (which originally stood for Magic the Gathering Online eXchange) was the first prominent Bitcoin exchange. They've been going through some rather rough times lately, some of which I was an early cataloguer of here. In short, everyone is freaking out because the exchange may be insolvent. It's not really a big deal to Bitcoin as a whole, but it's certainly an obvious blow to credibility. In my view, people are primarily upset because MtGox has been a part of Bitcoin for a very long time, and it can be hard to let go of what we're used to. I expect that they will either fix the issues or will go out of business officially very soon.
Please explain what happened.
Tell me every artist in your iTunes. Daft Punk, detektivbyrån, Kid Cudi, Matisyahu, The White Panda.
Spotify for life, yo.
Follow up question, what % are you in BTC vs Fiat and when you are on the losing side of a trade do you find your self dumping in more to get right or do you pull the cord Unless my positions are on different exchanges or in different coins, they're all always 100% of what I'll put into that trade at entrance and exit. As a result, I end up with a binary choice: stay or reduce/close. I very rarely reduce position size, nearly always preferring to just end the position instead.
Last updated: 2014-02-25 04:57 UTC
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Margin Call Calculation

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