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Essential Steps to Secure Your Trading Computer and Protect Your Information

August 29, 2013 in Blog

Cyber Security

Protect Your Computer

With the rise of computer crime it is essential to protect yourself from hacking, viruses, malware and cyber theft. No one likes to spend a whole day having to re-install software or deal with software problems. That said, we at Back Bay Futures thought it would be important to inform you on steps you can use to protect yourself.

According to an NFA newsletter, experts predict that the already significant number of cyber security threats to the financial sector will rise in the next 18 months. To prepare for this growing threat, NFA has reviewed its policies and procedures and recommends that its Members do the same.

Whether you trade Stocks, Bonds, Futures, Forex or just perform financial transactions online it is important that you take steps to protect yourself. Here is a list of essential steps to protect your Computer.

Windows , Mac or Unix Updates: While these Operating Systems are obviously the target of hackers, they have people working all the time to shut down vulnerabilities that let hackers in. Does it not make sense to keep your computer updated to minimize the amount of ways a hacker can enter into your computer

Software Updates: Similar to Operating System updates it is important to get the latest fixes or versions. It is especially important if that software is used with browser (think Java, Flash) or is software that allows you to interact with others online.

Use a firewall for your Internet connection: Firewalls—frequently a software-based network security system that establishes a barrier between your internal network and other external networks—are effective at fending off other malicious attacks on your computers.

Use up-to-date-antivirus software: Always use some form of anti-virus software that is designed to protect your computer(s) in case you come across a malicious website.

Be Careful what you download (Freeware or attachments): Most freeware is bad. If you are going to use freeware perform some due diligence and make sure that it is trusted. Also make sure you are downloading it from their site or a reputable download site. Email attachments are also dangerous. If it is from someone you do not know do not open it. If it is from someone you know but is not a normal email they would send, do not open it. When in doubt, pick up the phone and ask them if they sent it.

Backup your Data: I would say do not use online backup software. Purchase a external hard drive that you can use like the WD My Passport 1TB Portable External Hard Drive Storage USB 3.0 Black

Avoid Bad Neighborhoods: Avoid the wild, wild west of the internet sites where you can download explicit content, free downloads, online games, and so on; this way, there are less chances for you to be hacked.

Use Strong Passwords: Here is a hint don’t use the obvious. If someone can guess your password, your data, your bank account(s) is available to them. Use strong passwords should always, at a minimum, be nine characters long, contain at least one capital (upper case) letter, at least one lower case letter and at least one number or special character.

Add a physical layer of security: A Biometric device that reads your fingerprint to login to your windows 7 or 8 computer. Pretty hard to get past this. I would suggest using the P2000 Premium Metal Fingerprint Reader for WIN 7 & WIN 8!

Turn off your Computer: Many people keep their computers on so as to be ready anytime they want to check something out.. The downside is that being “always on” renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker’s connection. If you are really paranoid, then unplug the computer as well!!

Avoid keeping personal financial information in the Cloud: If it is in the cloud you are putting the responsibility of security in the hands of the company that is hosting it.

If you like this article or find it very useful please tell a friend.

For more information on protecting your computer you may even want to take a class at a local college or you can find more information to protect yourself by visiting the following sites

Better Business Bureau Scam List
SEC List of Fictitious Government and International Agencies
FBI
Cyber Crime News & Prevention
Microsoft Security Essentials
Apple Mac Security
Linux Security

Risk Disclaimer: Trading in commodity interests is a challenging opportunity which involves considerable risk. Commodity Interests include; Futures, options, cash currencies and other leveraged transaction products. The valuation of futures, options, cash currencies and other leveraged transaction products may fluctuate and as a result clients may lose more than the amount originally invested and may also have to pay more later. Therefore, before deciding to participate you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience and risk appetite. Most importantly, do not invest money you cannot afford to lose. Consulting with your investment counselor, attorney or accountant as to the appropriateness of an investment in margin trading and leverage transaction products is recommended. Back Bay Futures is a registered branch office of Back Bay FX Services, LLC – NFA member (0388617).

TD Ameritrade Online Broker

June 2, 2013 in

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Day 10: The Mystery that Controls Stock Prices – Supply & Demand

May 3, 2013 in Explanations, Investing Step 1: Evaluate, Stock Market in 100 Days, Trading Step 1: Find Opportunities

Anyone that’s paid the slightest attention to the stock market knows price isn’t directly tied to a company’s business. Stock prices, commodity prices like oil and gold, and even bond prices aren’t directly tied to the economy either. Yes, fundamental factors such as a company’s business performance and economic conditions do matter, but there’s something else in between that controls the seemingly random ups and downs in prices.

That mysterious gear that directly controls stock price is the supply and demand of the stock itself as an investment choice, not the value of the company.

This is the most important truth for any investor in any market.  Take a moment to let that sink in. From this point forward, this is how you view all investing and trading. The same applies to investing in commodities, bonds, futures, forex, or real estate.

Thinking of stocks like real estate, the quality and location of a home, just like the quality and business positioning of a company, are considerations for the price. In the end, home prices are based on the supply and demand of homes. If no one wants to buy your home or no one can afford your home, there’s no demand.  You can’t sell the home no matter how magnificent the furnishings are or how great the location. To sell the home, you must keep lowering your offering price to a price a buyer is willing to bid for.

This is the core of how the stock market, real estate market, job market, and even Craigslist work. It doesn’t matter what the buyer or seller think the price of something should be. The price is whatever both buyer and seller agree on to make a transaction. As a seller, if you don’t sell your inventory, whether it be toys on Ebay or stocks in your portfolio, you can’t get cash you can use. The inventory temporarily has no value as it just sits there collecting dust.

Let’s look at how this works for stocks. But remember, the same applies to other assets you can put your money in such as options, futures, forex, commodities, bonds, and real estate. In fact, these compete with stocks for your money. Something to think about.

What Affects Stock Prices (by Affecting Supply and Demand of Stocks)?

Whether you’re investing to build wealth or trading for income, this saying applies:

“Only price pays”

If you need cash, it doesn’t matter if you own a million dollar home you can’t sell. This is why investors and traders alike should apply the basics of technical analysis, aka supply and demand analysis, aka price and volume analysis.

Asset allocation. Top reason factor moving stock prices, commodity prices, bond prices, and other markets up and down. Think of what you do with your investments and financial planning. If you need money, you may cash out some of your investments. If you sold a house or got a bonus, you may add to your investments. These personal decisions have nothing to do with the companies you invest in!  Sure, you’re just 1 person, but everyone does something similar. Multiply you by a million and that’s a big effect on the markets.

Portfolio Management. No one has unlimited amounts of money to invest or trade. So you, or the portfolio managers of your mutual funds, must decide on how to allocate the money set aside for investments. Even if a company is great, you don’t have unlimited funds to keep buying that one company. Even if technology stocks are doing great, diversification tells you to keep some money in dividend stocks or bonds for safety. So a certain stock prices may not do as well as the company’s business suggests because investors, as a whole, don’t have enough money to spend on this particular stock.

Sector Rotation. This is part of portfolio management. Let’s say technology stocks may be doing well, but bank stocks may have even better potential. This is what you’ll hear as “sector rotation.” When portfolio and fund managers sell stocks in one sector (industry), good or bad, to buy stocks in the better industry at the moment. Why do they have to sell? Because they have a limited amount of funds. In order to buy something, they must sell something else first. Shift money from one place to another.

Government Policy and Economic Conditions. These so called “macro” or conditions on a big scale influence everyone’s opportunities and decisions. Housing credits provided by the government can shift investment money from the stock market to buying homes. Lower interest rates makes bonds and CD (certificate of deposits) poor investments, so people may choose to pay down debt or invest in stocks, gold, or other assets.

Psychology. When people feel confident about the economy and, more importantly, have a job and feel confident about their financial situation, they’re more likely to invest. The economy or a business may be doing just fine, but if investors prefer to keep their money as cash in the bank instead of buying shares of stock, the stock will have a hard time going up and may even fall. Cash also competes with stocks, gold, oil, and other assets.

Investors and Traders in the Market. All of these factors I’ve mentioned shows how other people’s actions will affect the market price. Each person, group, company, and government has it’s own agenda, it’s own risk tolerance. We all have a limit of how much we’re willing to or can afford to lose. These “cry uncle” points is where many people have decided to throw in the towel and sell. With many people selling at similar prices, the market is flooded with a large supply like at a firesale. Though it may be temporary, this flood of supply makes shares plentiful and thus cheap. Other sellers may join in and match the lower prices just to make their prices competitive. Thus, other people’s financial situation and investments they own can affect the overall market. It is important to know the types of investors and traders in your particular stock, stock industry, or other assets such as forex or gold.

Business Performance & Health. Lastly, this is what most investors focus on, but as you see it’s only one aspect of the supply and demand story. Not the most important, either. Over time, these so called fundamentals of business health and performance matter because the company can be bought out by another company below a certain price. Or, the company can use the cash it has to buy all of it’s shares back from you and other investors. Most companies do have some real value: cash, buildings, factories, intellectual property, and so on. In bad economies or bad seasons for a particular industry, the business may not do as well. Make less sales, accumulate less cash. Strong companies may use bad conditions to buy smaller struggling companies to expand their empire. These things also factor into how attractive or unattractive a stock is to an investor.

When Prices Go Up: More Demand for Stocks Than Supply Available

At some price, buyers will find a stock cheap enough to buy all the shares the sellers are selling. With whatever cash the buyers still have, they want to buy more. The buyers pay a bit more so the sellers are willing to let go of more of the shares they own. In this way, the buyer’s demand keeps pushing prices higher. This continues until a balance is reached where the buyer has bought all they want at a higher price and the seller isn’t willing to lower their price to entice the buyers to buy more.

When Prices Go Down: Less Demand for Stocks Than Supply Available

On the flip side, at some point buyers don’t think it’s worth buying more for high prices. They’ve accumulated a lot of inventory, whether if it’s stocks, gold, or other assets. If anyone who owns some inventory thinks there’s not much that’ll happen to make the stock more valuable, such as a cancer curing medication, they’ll want to sell the stock to take profits and get cash. As more owners sell (for whatever reason), the price continues to fall. The sellers are now providing more supply than demand. To entice a buyer, the holder of the stock keeps lowering the price.

Day 9: Before You Buy, Check Market Liquidity

May 2, 2013 in Explanations, Stock Market in 100 Days, Trading Step 3: Execution

What is market liquidity?  Why is it an important consideration when trading the markets?

The definition of a Liquid market is a market in which selling and buying can be accomplished with minimal effect in price.

Let’s look at a real world representation of market liquidity and see what conclusion you come to.  The screen shots shown below in two boxes are commonly referred to as a DOM (Depth of Market) or Trade Ladder.  Both markets are futures, but the idea is the same for other markets.

  • The center column shows the price of the market.  
  • The left of this center column is bid size and this measures how many bids are at each particular price.
  • The column to the right of the center column is the ask size and this measures how many asks are at each particular price. 

Please compare the number of bids (buy orders) and asks (sell orders) in each box.

  • Which market has more bid and asks? 
  • Which market has a smaller differential between the bid and ask Price?
  • If you were going to enter an order to buy (go long) 25 contracts, which market do you feel would be more able to absorb that order when using the definition for a liquid market mentioned above? 

The box on the left represents the market that best characterizes the correct answers to these questions. The market shown in the left box has a quantity of 219 bids and 474 asks at the current market (see orange underline). In contrast the market shown on the right box has 3 bids and 1 ask with not many bid and asks supporting those (see orange underline).  Now look at each center column (Price) which will display the minimum price size or tick, the market on the left is 1 tick difference whereas the market on the right has an 8 tick difference.

Day 9 - What is market liquidity v2

Here are a few additional questions to consider:

  • As an investor, trader, speculator, etc. does it make sense to participate in a market where the ability to enter and exit leaves as little impact on the market as possible? 
  • Which of the markets pictured above would generally be subject to larger price swings a liquid or non-liquid market? 

The real world of trading has costs that are associated with them.  You have trading costs like commissions, exchange fees, etc.  You must factor in the spread of the market price when determining your break even. It should be rather obvious then that a liquid market will allow you the chance at entering and exiting the market with minimum impact on market pricing.  A non-liquid market (picture box on right) certainly shows that any significant volume needing to be traded would be met with some larger price swings and wider price spreads.

The type of trading you plan on doing is also a very important consideration.  If you are going to buy and hold a position over a long period of time then deep liquidity is not very important.  A day trader does need deep liquidity and needs that liquidity during the times they are planning on trading.

The Macro Trader Letter

April 22, 2013 in

Weekly newsletter covering stocks, bonds, commodities, and currencies.  We run a model portfolio using ETF’s so that our research is accessible to both individual and institutional investors alike.

Every other week you will receive an extensive letter with tons of in depth research and on the other weeks you will receive a shorter version with summarized versions of our views and any new actionable trade ideas.

In addition to the weekly letter we also send out regular mid-week updates with trade ideas, research, commentary, etc.

Sample Issue of The Macro Trader (Dated April 18, 2013)

Sample Issue of The Daily Macro Mid-Week Update (Dated April 19, 2013)

Want to Play in the World Poker Series? or Trade Instead?

February 12, 2013 in Blog

This one is as close as it gets to trading. But man are there some differences. To make any sort of real money, professional poker players have to play the big stakes games. And who else is playing the big stakes games? That’s right: professional poker players. This means that the best are most often competing against the best. They can’t prey on the amateurs if they want to make serious money. And if they play tournaments, they’re up against hundreds or thousands of other pros all vying for the big cash prize. No matter how good they are, their odds of actually winning the whole thing tend towards a coin toss. And while they have a good long-term edge, the short-term variance of poker is very high. So high in fact that extended multi-week deep drawdowns can be normal even for the not so super aggressive player.

Now think about yourself as a trader. You’re in one big pond called the market. And if you work on your game enough to become a skilled pro, you get to fish in this pond- a pond which includes all the amateurs. This means that while yes, you’re up against the pros, you also have millions of amateurs whose money you can take. You don’t have to be one of the very best in the world to make a great living at it. And if you do become one of the best in the world, you don’t have to sit across the other great ones and play heads-up to make your living. Your short-term variance is also much lower. You can realistically craft a style that makes money every single month with only moderate drawdowns. “Must be nice”, the poker pro thinks to himself.

Poker Skills for Day Trading: What It Means To Think In Probabilities

February 5, 2013 in Blog, Trading Step 2: Planning & Safety

A lot of traders think that they think in probabilities. But just because you think about odds and reward-to-risk doesn’t mean that you actually think in probabilities. One of the best quotes I’ve ever read on the subject comes from poker pro Annie Duke:

To be a great poker player you have to have what we call ‘a lot of heart’, which is the ability to not only understand what the right play is, but to be able to follow through with it. Which seems like a very trivial point, but it’s probably the biggest point. A lot of times, what happens to people, sort of what separates the good from the great is that the good know the right answer, but they don’t follow through with it because it’s too scary and they think the risk is too big. They don’t have that confidence that it’s okay because while there might be some variance to the play and you might lose this particular hand, mathematically it was the right choice. Over the long run it will work out.One of the things that I say to students is that most poker players spend far far too much time worrying about whether they have the best hand. What great players worry about is whether they can win the hand enough of the time, which is a totally different way to think. What really makes a great poker player is understanding, it’s not about winning right now, it’s about making the right decisions so that you win in the long run.

Let’s convert that poker quote to the world of trading. As you see, the parallels are very striking:

To be a great trader you have to have what we call ‘a lot of heart’, which is the ability to not only understand what the right entry or exit is, but to be able to follow through with it. Which seems like a very trivial point, but it’s probably the biggest point. A lot of times, what happens to people, sort of what separates the good from the great is that the good know the right answer, but they don’t follow through with it because it’s too scary and they think the risk is too big. They don’t have that confidence that it’s okay because while there might be some variance to the results and you might lose on this particular trade, mathematically it was the right choice. Over the long run it will work out. One of the things that I say to students is that most traders spend far far too much time worrying about whether they’re right on this particular trade. What great traders worry about is whether their action will give them  a profit enough of the time, which is a totally different way to think. What really makes a great trader is understanding, it’s not about winning right now, it’s about making the right decisions so that you win in the long run.

Now you know what it really means to think in probabilities.

The post Do You Truly Know What It Means To Think In Probabilities? appeared first on OpenTrader Pro Trading Blog.

Hedge Fund

January 31, 2013 in

A Hedge Fund is a aggressively and actively managed portfolio of investments.  It’s mission is to significantly beat the market with large profits through just about any means necessary.  To do so, Hedge Funds may take advantage of just about any investment strategy such as leveraged, long, short and derivative positions.  Hedge Funds may invest and trade in both domestic and international markets, dealing in just about any asset merchandise including stocks, options, futures, forex, and commodities.

Compared to Mutual Funds and ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds), Hedge Funds have a lot less rules and regulations to follow.  The unrestrained number of strategies and markets Hedge Funds can use potentially give Hedge Funds more opportunities to score big in the market.  But be careful.  In the hands of a inexperienced or reckless Hedge Fund Manager,  the freedom Hedge Funds have can be dangerous and lead to significant losses, not profits.

Hedge Funds are usually exclusive to high net worth individuals and investment groups.  Also, compared to Mutual Funds, Hedge Funds cannot market themselves or take money from the public  and so few people know about them.

What’s In It For The Hedge Fund Firm?

Money managers of Mutual Funds and ETFs are usually paid based on how much money they manage.  Hedge Funds, on the other hand, are primarily paid based on profits.  So, the incentive for a Hedge Fund manager to be paid well is to make a lot of money every year as opposed to Mutual Funds and ETF managers, who’s incentive is to have more money to manage.

Elements contributing to a hedge fund strategy include

  • approach to the market
  • particular instrument used
  • market sector the fund specializes in (e.g. healthcare)
  • method used to select investments
  • amount of diversification within the fund

Strategies can be divided into those in which investments can be selected by managers, known as qualitative, or those in which investments are selected using a computerized system, known as quantitative. The amount of diversification within the fund can vary; funds may be multi-strategy, multi-fund, multi-market, multi-manager or a combination.

Bonds & Notes Futures Broker & Analyst VS. Full Time Trader – What’s the Difference? (George Cavaligos Interview)

January 28, 2013 in Interviews, Videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTrHHcbFpoQ

Continued talking treasuries and bonds, interest rates, and trading with George Cavaligos, who’s been an Institutional Futures Broker.  He’s also worked on the trading floor of the CME for 30+ years. He started his futures career in 1980 with Drexel Burnham Lambert. You all may know a guy by the name of Rick Santelli (CNBC) who used to work for George. George has also worked at (the now extinct) Bear Stearns and MF Global.

MORE FROM THIS INTERVIEW

Part 1: Institutional Bonds & Notes Futures Floor Broker for 30+ Years? Started as a High School Teacher (George Cavaligos Interview)

 

Contact George

Website: HFT Bonds by Hamzei Analytics
Twitter: GCavaligos

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