BarroMetrics Views: Oscillators

I am not a great fan of oscillators.

What many forget, is when Welles Wilder first introduced the RSI to the trading world, he postulated that the US stock indices had a 28-day trading cycle. He created the 14-day RSI to identify the swing highs and lows.

The trading world adopted the RSI with a vengeance: ” at last, here was a tool that would allow the trader to enter and exit with a high degree of accuracy!”

Unfortunately, the promised was never fulfilled.

The problem is there may or may not be a 14-cycle, and if there is, it may or may not, currently, be the dominant cycle.

A few traders, e.g. John Ehlers, sought to overcome the problem by software that would identify the dominant cycle (MESA Cycle Finder). But, I was unable to use MESA to produce the results I desired.

What’s true for the RSI is true for most of the oscillators that traders use. I prefer to use tools that are not dependent on fixed cycle periods – ones that adapt to accommodate new information.

Figure I shows the difference between the LRB and RSI. The LRB is saying, if there is to be a sell signal, the price action has to drop and rally with momentum divergence. So, while the ES is now in a sell zone, the price action still needs to provide a set-up.

The RSI is already showing trend divergence.

2016-06-30 30-min ES

FIGURE 1 30-min ES

US Stock Indices to Make New Highs?

BarroMetrics Views: US Stock Indices to Make New Highs?

A quickie post, folks.

The weekly ES (E-mini futures, nearest futures month) is showing an interesting pattern (Figure 1): if we see a bullish-conviction close above 2064, we’ll probably see a move to 2075; and a bullish-conviction above that price will see a move to 2118.

I am waiting to see if there is a sell-up at the price levels. I’ll be looking for:

  1. A LRB momentum divergence (Figure 2) i.e. a new price high that provides a lower momentum high; and
  2. A MDD volume setup (see Figure 3) i.e. an up day on selling volume. The setup occurred yesterday, but since I did not have a resistance level, I ignored it.

It’s worth repeating that have to occur at the designated resistance levels for me to take note of them.

2016-06-29 weekly es

FIGURE 1 Weekly ES

2016-06-29 60-min chart

FIGURE 2 LRB 60-min ES

2016-06-29 MDD_24hrs

FIGURE 3 MDD ES Pit & Globex

Brexit, A Trade Post Morterm

BarroMetrics Views: Brexit, A Trade Post Morterm

My blog will be patchy this week. I’ll be in for a minor procedure on Tuesday, June 28; then from June 30 to July 4, I’ll be engaged in preparing for the seminar I’ll giving on July 2 & 3.

I received a couple of posts asking if I could go through the trade process for the Brexit trade.

Sure, happy to oblige. But, first let me say that this was one of those trade were I was just in sync with the market. Perhaps it was because I was also coaching some friends on what to do that contributed to the synchronisation. It’s the first time I have used ‘whatsAPP’ to give trade recommendations.

The trade context is well set out in the posts here. So, I won’t repeat why I  looked to take the trade. Suffice to say I was looking to sell 100k GBPUSD ahead of the Brexit results. The 100k was a small position (my normal size is around 1M to 2M). The blog entries also explain why I reduced my size.

My original plan was to sell between 5:00 to 6:00 am HKT on June 24. But, at 14:13, I took the view that the cable was going to head south. So I sold 100K at 1.47682. At 14.20, I Whatsapped: ”

“Sold cable 100k 1.47682”. 

Now if you read the blog, you’ll know that I was not planning to place a stop. The reason being that in high volatility times knowing where to place the stop is very difficult. Hence, the reason for the small size.

One of those being coached asked: “Where to put stop?”

I replied: “The stop is the result of the referendum”. 

At 15:01 I messaged:

“The pop to new highs on low volume has changed my entry structure. So, I’ll exit current shorts above high vol node (1.4758) at 1.4767 (offer).

This strategy will be scratched at 10:00 pm UK (5:00 am HK). So if buy not filled by 10:00 pm UK, will run the 1.47682 short into referendum

If filled will sell 100k at 10:00 pm UK.” (10:00 UK is 5:00 am HK).

Figure 1 shows the entry and exit (red arrow entry, green arrow exit).

I awoke at 4:30 a.m. A poll result showing that the ‘remain’ camp had established a 4-point lead sent the cable up. I waited till I I saw some selling and sold 130K. I had not expected cable to get to 1.50 and so decided to sell a little more.

I Whatsapped: “Sold this morning 1.49623″.

At 742, I closed off 300K at 1.44139 to reduce the loss if the referendum went against me. One of my coachees (the one who asked where to place his stop) then Whatsapped to say that he had been stopped out in the 5:00 a.m. run. This price action is typical action during high volatility days.

I closed out the 100k position once it was clear the referendum had voted to ‘leave’. At 12:27, I messaged:

Cut all my positions at 1.3307″. 


  • During expected high volatility days, stops are not a useful means of loss prevention.
  • Better is to reduce position size so that an extreme move will still not decimate the account. If cable had gone against me and my close out was the same as my profit, I’d have lost 1.3%.
  • Trying to get on board once the train has left the station exposes us to wide spreads. At one point one broker had a spread of 10 pips and another 12 pips. Another reason why keeping size relatively small is important.
  • Don’t be greedy. On days like these, once the uncertainty is removed, expect to see a profit-taking reaction. (My reason for exiting at 12:25).
  • Finally what do we do now? My recommendation – stand aside for a few days. I’ll give my reasons in the next blog.

06-24 30-min GBPUSD



Expectations Set the Path to Failure

BarroMetrics Views: Expectations Set the Path to Failure

While we’re waiting for the Brexit results, let’s ask the question why does trading encourage such unrealistic expectations of what is possible to achieve long-term?

Let me give you an example. Recently, I received an email asking for details of the courses I run. As is my wont, I replied by asking a series of questions. One of them was:

“What is your desired return on capital?

His replies

“1) at present, 5% – 10% p.m.”

2) after the course, 20% to 30% p.m.”

Needless to say, I wrote back to say my courses would not be able to assist.

I run courses because my partner and I want to make a difference. With such unrealistic expectations of what is possible, there is no way we’d be able to assist this trader to become profitable.

Some of the newbies may ask why ‘unrealistic’?

Well, consider these two facts:

  • The Medallion Fund has the best returns spanning a 20-year period and that return is……….35% p.a.
  • My newbie is telling me that, at present, he is seeking to make 60% to 120% p.a. and after the course 240% to 260% p.a.

What fantasy world is my chap living in? If the best trader in the world is producing 35% p.a., what chance does my writer have of attaining his goals?

My view: 0%.

So, the question is why? Why such unrealistic expectations?

Part of the blame must lie with the way the industry is promoted.

Yesterday, I received an ad that promised, among other assurances:

“Find out what are the 3 PROVEN trading strategies that master Forex Traders secretly use to earn 3-5% returns every month!

Examine the headline:

  1. The promoter implies there are three established strategies.
  2. Other MASTER traders are using it.
  3. The methods produce 36% to 60% p.a. (Hey! Why invest in Renaissance’s Medallion for a mere 35% p.a. , when I have super traders returning at least 36%??!!).

So guys and girls, if you are thinking of becoming a trader, you owe it to yourself to separate the wheat from the chaff. In this internet age, that is not hard to do, at least in the trading arena. Establish your vision (as out there as you may like) and then take practical, incremental steps to get there.


‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon VII

BarroMetrics Views: ‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon VII

Depending on what polls you look at, either:

  • The ‘remain’ camp is marginally ahead.
  • The ‘leave’ camp is marginally ahead.
  • Both camps are equal.

With all of these numbers, the ‘undecided’ have not been included. So, clearly, they hold the key. Which brings me the bookies odds………

Bookies frame markets firstly according to their evaluation of the chances of the candidates and then alter the odds according to the weight of money.

The odds started around 50-50. Now the odds are:

  1. Remain 1-4 (on) (75% chance of winning)
  2. Leave even money (50% chance of winning).

Given the pools, the ‘remain’ camp offer less than value; the ‘leave’ camp is just value. In Buffet’s words, there is ‘no moat’ – at least as far as the probs are concerned.

So why am I keen to take a position ahead of the results? Because of the potential return if ‘leave’ wins.  Assuming for the moment that the bookies’ assessments of the probs of camps’ winning are correct, the potential return is what makes the difference.

The ‘remain’ camp returns have been seen a strong move since June 16. Cable, for example, at time of writing, has moved up 8% (811 pips) in 6 trading days (about a week). Putting that range into perspective, the current ATR is (300). So we have seen a greater than weekly ATR move ahead of the referendum result.

If we look at calendar periods, the current weekly range is 411 pips, about 37% greater than normal.

With that in mind, let’s remember that our expectancy return is based not only on the probs of winning, but also on the possible return. So my assessment is:

  • Remain: Prob of success x Expected Return = X
  • Leave: Prob of success x Expected Return = Y.

Over a 5-day horizon after the referendum, I expect to see: if the ‘leave’ wins, a 20% drop in the Cable; and if the ‘remain’ camp wins, a 5% increase (given the move up we have already seen).

Of course, my estimates could be totally off or could be very accurate. But, this is a challenge we face with all trades.

The one thing I would emphasise: if you do initiate a trade before the referendum, keep your position size small. The size will be compensated by the increased volatility.

‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon VI

BarroMetrics Views: ‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon VI

A quickie blog today.

Here are two references to Brexit:

The leave camp has slipped from a 50-50 to 51-49 (up to June 21). This reading is in line with my expectations. I expect the ‘leave’ camp to recover lost ground today.

  • This one outlines what the results ‘ought’ to be, on a district by district result, if the ‘leave/remain’ camp are to win. Interesting and useful.


The site will allow you to assess the probabilities of either camp winning as the results come in.

We are lucky in Asia; the first critical result is due on June 24 at 7:30 a.m. instead of the ungodly hour of 12:30 a.m.

The problem with getting on a trade (as the info comes in) will be the wide bid-offer spread. So, you’ll probably have to take the trade ahead of the results. If you do, you’d best keep the size way below normal to account for the probable increased volatility on June 24.

‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon V

BarroMetrics View: ‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon V

Chris asked: ‘Can you explain why the GBP will fall if the Brexit vote wins?’

Some economists suggest that an exit will cause the UK economy to falter initially and then recover. Others feel that the drain of an exit will take longer to recover.

I have attached two views as examples.

One thing is certain, legally, because of the treaty obligations, there will be a substantial unwinding period as laws will have to be amended and rescinded.

For me, the reason why the GBPUSD will fall is because no one is sure what Brexit will mean to the UK economy. And, since traders & investors abhor uncertainties they cannot rate, exit of positions is their usual response. To this, add the fact that most funds are long cable, and you have two good reasons for the decline.

My reasoning follows the same logic for my taking of small long Cable position at the open of yesterday. I felt there would be a switch back to the ‘remain’ camp as a knee-jerk reaction to Jo Cox’s murder.

If the referendum were to be held today, I’d be less confident of a ‘leave’ vote. But, the referendum is being held in 2-days. By then the Cox effects should have dissipated – if ‘remain’ wins, my ‘historical’ thesis would be proven wrong.

We’ll see. As of now, my small short Cable trade to be taken June 23 is still on track.

06-20 Global Counsel Impact Brexit

06-20 Woodford impact Brexit

‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon IV

BarroMetrics View: ‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon IV

The price action of the US stock indices suggests that a Brexit will send them into a tailspin.

So far this blog, I am going to look into my tea leaves and give you my two-cents.

The polls are some guide, but they have all been within the margin of error. So their absolute numbers are less useful. I rather view their levels as more an indication of momentum. As such, given the closeness of the polls, the last polls before the referendum will be a much better guide.

I am tracking the polls in Excel. I have attached a copy in case you are interested.

There is one aspect that has not publically been canvassed: the history of the UK.

Much has been made of how wrong the polls were in the Scottish referendum: the polls said the leave camp were set for victory, but lost In that referendum, I took a set against the referendum results. The reason: the lessons of history.

The UK has had a history of internal strife that has never resulted in a split. I took a set against the polls because I could see no reason why the Scottish referendum should prove any different.

History on Brexit has other lessons. The Brits have been fighting the French and Germans (at times allies with one against the other) for centuries. Brexit is essentially the same battle. I can’t see the Brits choosing to remain given the closeness of the polls.

Assuming the polls remain within the margin of error, on June 23, I’ll be taking a short cable position on small size (25% of my normal size). The reason for the size is I expect that if I am wrong about the result, I’ll probably see a 300-pip against me as soon as the result is known.

On the other hand, especially if the polls shows the remain camp in ascendance before the referendum. A Brexit is likely to see an over 600-pip decline. The reason for the reaction would be the hedge funds exiting their long cable positions. It’s unlikely the retail punter would be in the game – though some may seek to join the party if the polls continue to shift to remain camp.

Brexit Polls Tab 2016-06-18



Evidence of a Top?

BarroMetrics Views: Evidence of a Top?

I have espoused the opinion that a top in the US stock marker will occur no earlier than late 3rd quarter 2016 to end 1st quarter 2017.  I have also suggested that the investor faith in the FED has to be undermined before the bear can be given full effect


Figure 1 shows the S&P following last night’s FOMC (and Figure 2 shows the DJIA).

Based on what you see, you’d have thought that the FED  had disappointed the market expectations. Instead, it delivered everything the stock market could have hoped for and perhaps a little more.

  1. Rates remained on hold.
  2. The accompanying statement was more dovish than expected:
  • The amount of rate hike for 2016 went into reverse.
  • The US growth projections were revised down.
  • In her press conference, Yellen omitted the comment that the FED would be looking to raise rates in the coming months.

So, the question must be asked, is the belief in the FED, coming to the rescue of a bear market, diminishing?

My view is no. I think it’s more a question of the Brexit decision weighing on the market.  We’ll have a better handle once the Brexit referendum is known.

06-16 NVD


06-16 NVD DJIA





‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon III

BarroMetrics Views: ‘Harbour Waves’ in the Horizon III

QE managed to create a floor under US stock indices since its inception in 2007. In the process, it widened the income gulf to the point that has almost extinguished the US middle class.

Despite the FED’s avowed intention to stop QE, it has effectively continued it by keeping interest near zero, and by topping up maturing bonds. In other words, QE has stopped growing, but it is being maintained.  There also seems to be a belief permeating the US stocks that if it throws a sufficiently large tantrum, the FED will reverse its policy.

Perhaps that explains the belief permeating US stock players that if they throw a sufficiently large tantrum, the FED will reverse its policy.

That’s the context for Brexit.

In my view, the adverse economic effects of Britain leaving the EU cannot be contained by the FED – no matter how much money it creates. Brexit will be one ‘unexpected events’ Pete Steidlmayer spoke off – an event that changes the fundamental structure of the market.

If this proves correct, then my view of a bear market beginning in the last quarter 2016/furst quarter 2017 will be proven wrong. The bear market will happen earlier.

How likely a Brexit?

Polls rate it a 50-50 chance (with the ‘leave it camp’ a nose in front). Financial pundits (like Bloomberg) point to the difference in one-month and one-year volatility and take the view:

  • Because the one-year is not showing a massive increase, the markets believe Britain will remain. And,
  • Where markets and polls diverge, we ought to rely on the market judgement.

The pundits do have history on their side. But, this time, they’ll probably be proven wrong. We’ll see.