Book Reviews
A Mind Game

How can you increase your chances of winning?

My previous book review (see: http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/6519.html) led me to attribute reason for my taking profits early, which meant smaller profits than I deserved, to lack of proper methodology. This book points me to another important aspect for it: hardwired psychological inclinations of risk aversion. It also answers why people, including me, ride loser stocks too long. Kiev is a psychiatrist who has written numerous books on related subjects. This book attempts to take another cut at the issue of successful trading by looking across a range of skill sets that are integral parts of the successful trader: a goal-oriented strategy, risk management, creative thinking, and a capacity for collaboration and leadership.

One question the book tries to answer is “How can you increase your chances of winning?” from a psychological perspective. The book explores the nature of investing and trading in terms of being a probabilistic field of endeavour and the kinds of traits and personality characteristics that must be developed to increase the likelihood of success. Kiev views the field of investing as ‘sports betting’ and that a trader can increase his/her odds of winning by learning to bet on high-probability bets. The approach that is imprinted throughout the book is to challenge oneself to be able to think originally and in terms of what is not immediately apparent. The “thinking outside the box” approach is about trusting your intuition and then developing the kind of research process that will support your hunch and not simply rely on conventional sources of information. It means investing in a lot of research to uncover expected value of a company that is beyond published reports. Traders can look for pricing discrepancy, disconnects, and other things that suggest that buying a company gives you a good shot at winning the bet in a reasonably well-defined time period, increasing your odds of winning.

Successful trading, Kiev asserts, requires an unusual and sometimes contradictory blend of intellectual and psychological abilities, including the willingness to take risks, but in a very controlled manner; the discipline to develop high-conviction trading ideas in the face of unpredictable markets and incomplete information, as well as a strong drive to win—but also accept failure. A person who is too cautious or a complete perfectionist is not a good candidate for portfolio management as much as someone who is too impulsive or an irrational risk-taker. At the end of the day, perseverance, experience, and drive serve to compensate for weakness in personality and natural talent. Kiev’s views are supported and articulated with interviews from contemporary traders and portfolio managers. This covers numerous aspects such as: Intellect, Instinct and Guts; Goal Directedness; Ability to take risk; Importance of Ingenuity; Separating Emotions and Decisions; Nurturing team players; Directing Success. These are personality traits Kiev wants hedge fund managers to understand how to look for and choose the best person for a job from the pool of highly-talented individuals.

Some of the things covered in the book may already be known to you. Other things may look obvious and you may want to acquire that personality trait. By all means go for it. My belief is that our personality is somewhat hardwired. It is something based on all our life experiences and reactions to it that are stored in our subconscious. Most of the time how we behave comes from our subconscious. It is possible to reprogram it, but it will take time and effort. It will be foolish to expect that one can develop the right blend of risk-taking ability just by reading this or any other book. Take it in a positive approach as a new beginning in a right direction. Don’t buy this book if you are a trader looking for anything other than psychological aspects to help you in trading.

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A Long-term View

All about getting you back to the basics and some fundamental core truths of successful trading

An eye-opener that helped me to understand why I usually ended up taking profits too early which meant smaller profits than I deserved. This was due to lack of proper methodology in my trading. There is no panacea for successful trading. The book will reinforce the point that trading will require more work than ever thought imaginable. The heartening news is that the basic principles are applicable to every trader, in any market and in any timeframe. Even though Brent is humble enough to call himself 'not (an) expert', the teaching gems have come from over 25 years of hardcore trading experience. The book is not for someone looking for new entry/stop exit techniques. The shift in my approach was that Brent is a mechanical trader who does not spend time watching markets tick by tick, but rather spends most of his time on researching and thinking up new ideas.

Most of the people will think the USP of the book is Brent's "Just one piece of advice" section that has rare interviews from a diverse group of 15 successful traders from across the world who have generously agreed to offer the reader one powerful piece of advice to help him towards his trading goals. For me, the USP of the book was the 70 plus pages of "Methodology". The caveat here is that Brent wants every reader to do his own independent validation. In his words, be a sponge and soak up all the ideas you can on trading, but as you do so, please remember to remain a sceptic and be prepared to do your own work to validate the idea independently. What doesn't work for you is as important as knowing what does! At the end of the day, you have to find what works for you to identify potential support and resistance level consistently. A good support level will not only exist in an uptrend; it should also confirm the uptrend. A good resistance level will not only exist in a downtrend; it should also confirm the downtrend. Brent puts high importance to both entries and exits. He totally disagrees with anyone favouring importance of exits over entries. His analysis of the highly-promoted Gann & Fibonacci methodologies may surprise those who use or support it.

The book details six universal principles of successful trading that outline the process of trading: Preparation, Enlightenment, Trading style, Markets, Trading and the three pillars of Money Management, Methodology, and Psychology. Brent does spend good amount of emphasis on Money Management that he considers even more important than Methodology. Psychology is important once you commence trading and it is the glue that holds Money Management and Methodology together.

Today is both the best and worst of times for traders. They never had it so good with no barriers to entry, multiple discount brokers, electronic trading platforms, automatic trading programs, inexpensive live real-time data, charting programs, indicators, fundamental & technical trading theories, trading coaches, newsletters, etc. Yet, more than 90% of active traders continue to lose. Hard choices are needed over studying, learning, and implementing the ideas in the book. The only real secret of trading is: the best loser is the long-term winner.

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Price stability key to recovery for India, other G-20 nations

India’s overall inflation touched 10.16% in May, while food inflation is above 16%. Added to that, last week's decision to raise fuel prices is likely to stoke inflation by 0.9 percentage points

Amid concerns over sustaining the recovery through domestic consumption, the world's most influential leaders have asked their grouping, Group of Twenty (G-20), to work for price stability—a key challenge for India grappling with double digit inflation, reports PTI.

"Monetary policy will continue to be appropriate to achieve price stability and thereby contribute to the recovery," the declaration by G-20 leaders said on Sunday after their two-day summit in Toronto, Canada.

India is battling high overall inflation which touched 10.16% in May, while food inflation is above 16%. The government's chief economic adviser himself estimated that last week's decision to raise fuel prices would stoke inflation by 0.9 percentage points.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is scheduled to review monetary policy on 27th July amid expectations of rise in key policy interest rates.

Though India, as prime minister Manmohan Singh said, is on the way to returning to 9% economic growth, sustaining it with strong demand would require a fine balancing act.

"The path of adjustment must be carefully calibrated to sustain the recovery in private demand," the declaration said.

Sustaining private demand amid stress on government finances in several European countries remains a major challenge for the global economy.

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