I've been thinking about the Olympics lately. Oh, not that scandal stuff. (My question: Forget Salt Lake -- I wonder how far Olympic organizers will go to win the bid?)
And it's not about my kids swimming in the Olympics. (Best guess? One chance in 500 for the 2008 games. And I'm probably being optimistic.)
I'm thinking about one of the greatest Olympic performances ever:
speed-skating achievements in the 1980 winter games (1980? Yikes, that was almost 20 years ago, and it seems like yesterday. I am
Why was I impressed? Jeez, not only did the guy win five gold metals but he won them over every possible distance, with each distance requiring dramatically different skills.
As an example, he won the 500 meters, which is essentially an all-out sprint, and then came back and won the 10,000 meters, which is the skating equivalent to a marathon.
Now think about that for a second: It would be like
winning not only the 200 meters at Atlanta, but the 800 and the 10K as well. Or if you're a swimming aficionado,
winning the 50 Free and then turning around and winning the 1500.
That kind of stuff just doesn't happen anymore. In track or swimming -- heck, in just about every sport -- there are just no jacks-of-all-trades!
And that gets me back to the reason I've been thinking about Mr. Heiden (actually, Dr. Heiden now, further filling out his hard-to-believe resume!). It concerns my past few weeks of trading.
If you've been following my columns and in particular, my weekend missives, you know my problem: a sideways market, annoyingly like the one we just went through. Highlighting my ineptness, one reader wrote:
With the sideways market, you are left out of the party, and that, to me, with someone of your intelligence and resources (Wesson, etc.) is inexcusable! Too much time is wasted, in my humble opinion, in not making a fortune! Why can't there be a sideways market plan developed to fit in with your spectrum of risk and intelligence? How much of the time are markets up and down anyway? How much of the time are markets sideways? I don't know the answers but geez .... There is a lot of money to be made in "sideways."
Hmmm, well that certainly hits me in the solar plexus, because the reader is correct: There is a lot of money to be made in a sideways market. In fact, markets only trend about 20% of the time. (At least that's the anecdotal number. It sounds real, though.) So, for the other 80% of the time, I'm getting chopped to bits, or at best, grumbling about "being on the sidelines." I mean, the reader is right. I'm no dolt (I give myself the benefit of the doubt), and I can't figure out a way to make a cent when the market goes flatline.
And that brings me back to Dr. Heiden: Is there a way to trade well in
types of markets? Really, wouldn't it be nirvana to have one method that performed well in both a trending environment and a sideways environment?
As an example, let me illustrate with a chart.
And even if there isn't one method, how about two methods, one for each? Heiden could sprint as well as pace himself. Why can't I solve this trading problem? And if not me, why not Wesson, for crying out loud?
Look, I'm not complaining at all. If all goes well, I'll bang out another good year and after a few more good years in a row, I'll be very content to take advantage of the few times the market trends, and leave the rest of the year to someone else.
In fact, even now I pause for a moment and ask: "Am I looking for too much? Do I have to make money every single day and week?"
Well, yeah, it would be nice, and there just has to be a solution to this! There had to be someone whose account swelled the last eight weeks instead of getting chopped to bits.
I am open to suggestions. In fact, send me a short, concise note on your thoughts on a "sideways" winning method. The only restriction: no complicated options strategy. Yes, I know all about straddles and strangles, and naked this and naked that. Those I'm not interested in. But anything else is fair game.
The best strategies will be featured in an upcoming column, with our loyal readership both amazed and astounded with your prowess!
Of interest -- and I know I'm shilling for myself -- but you really should go back and read my past few Monday
columns on building your own methodology. It's ironic, although I guess it shouldn't be, but judging from your emails, many of you would still rather hear my opinion on a chart than build your own methodology.
Maybe I'm scolding you, but folks, if you're doing this trading thing right, my opinion should mean exactly one thing: jack. I love
and just about every other writer on
. But you know how much input their opinions have on my trading? Zilch.
That's right, zippo. My feeling is that when you ask for someone else's opinion on a chart, you most definitely do not have your own opinion fully formed. And that also means you don't have a rigorous, well-defined way to trade. And all that mumbo-jumbo on "rigorous, well-defined" is EXACTLY what I've been talking about the past few Mondays.
Go back and either read or reread those columns. It's bitter medicine, I know, but you'll feel a lot better in the long run!
Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. This column, Charted Territory, appears every Wednesday. Smith also writes Technician's Take, which appears every Monday, and TSC Technical Forum, which appears every Saturdays and Sundays.