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Flying Lessons

By

Don't force shots, Minyans -- be the ball!

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Ice is forming on the tips of my wings
Unheeded warnings, I thought I thought of everything
No navigator to guide my way home
Unladened, empty and turning to stone

(Pink Floyd)


It's another beautiful day in Minyanville and, as such, I was quite surprised to walk into the kitchen and find a bunch of bitter critters. This is usually a pretty happy bunch and I was admittedly concerned by their sour mood. I grabbed a bottle of water (and a handful of chocolate chips) and told the Menagerie to follow me into the conference room. The conversation went a little something like this:

Toddo: Guys, why the long faces? What gives?

Sammy: (looking around at his friends before speaking up) This business has really turned into a rough ride, dog, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to consistently make money. To top it off, everyone has become such a sourpuss that it makes it no fun to come to work! The bulls aren't happy, the bears aren't happy... it's just a sad state of affairs.

Toddo: I know it's hard guys, but you've gotta suck it up, dig deep and power through. You've got two choices, you can toss in the towel and give up or you can motivate yourself and take it to the next level. Don't let the monotony wear you down. It's surely a grind but that's no excuse -- we're all in the same boat.

Hoofy: You mean we should put our heads down and be more aggressive?

Toddo: NO, Hoofy, it means that patience and discipline will serve you in good stead over the long run. One of the first things we've got to do is relax and stop putting so much pressure on ourselves. That type of pressing and guessing will invariably suck the capital out of your portfolio. Educated decisions, please, and when you're unsure, do a little less while looking for high percentage trades.

Boo: As much as I hate to admit it, Hoofy, the fat guy has a point. (winks at me) Look at my last few weeks: I got overly aggressive on the short side after the initial pre-war pop and spent the rest of the month making up for lost ground. The Minx came back our way but it wasn't a fun ride!

Toddo: That's alright Boo. As long as you've learned from the experience, it's not a mistake. (looking around) Look, I understand you guys are a bit spun around here but, trust me, you're not alone. There's a real battle taking place at these technical levels and while the Minx seemingly wants to try higher, the macro tells and stateside guides are pointing south. I would love to make a HUGE trading call here but I can't, in good conscience, dress in my metaphorical imagery right now. I remain VERY bearish from a broader perspective but I've flattened out my near-term risk. And if I don't have enough conviction to trade 'em as I see 'em, the costume must remain in the closet.

Snapper: So...you're not doing ANYTHING?

Toddo: There's always SOMETHING to do, Snaps, but every day doesn't have to be the most important day of all time. As I said in the opening post, there's risk to an aggressive profile and opportunity cost associated with a conservative posture. That's a tradeoff that each Minyan must make independently. I'm still trading, but it's light and tight until something crystallizes in my crowded keppe.

Hoofy: Duly noted, Boss. Do you think that they'll jam 'em higher into the close?

Toddo: They seemingly WANT to try, Hoofs, but if you're gonna play that way, I suggest that you define your risk via stops. The ducks are lined up the other way (south) and when you're looking for advantageous risk/reward, you wanna see the quack count as high as possible.

With that, I stuffed a handful of frozen chocolate chips in my mouth and made my way back to my turret. There were two hours left in the quarter and I sensed that the games were about to begin. I turned to look at the four critters (Daisy was at the game) and hoped that I made sense at some level. I didn't always have the answers for them but if I stopped them from making an rash, emotional decisions, then it was indeed time well spent.

I hope this finds you well.

No positions in stocks mentioned.

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at todd@minyanville.com.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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