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Old 10-03-2013, 14:15   #61
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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Originally Posted by ImaginaryNumber View Post
Those interested in Delphin's previous posts on this method of trading can find them starting at the URL below, and later throughout that thread:

How to Invest ?

I'd like to add my vote of appreciation to Delfin for bringing spread trading and the analysis of MRCI to my attention.



My pleasure.
For the benefit of my son for whom I have been parallel trading I started a step by step guide on how to actually place trades using the Interactive Brokers platform. As with a lot of things you learn how to do, the doing is easier than explaining the doing. The IB platform is so flexible and comprehensive that it's pretty hard to understand it in totality. However, to do spread trading there are only a few functions I use, so if you wanted to start to play with this concept using play money for awhile, these are the functions you would need to learn. I'm sure there are many more functions not shown that would be useful that I don't understand or know about, but these are the ones I use. Their help function will get you started with learning how to do these activities.

1. Creating a Portfolio Page. This lets you record and enter the trades.

2. Creating a Group Header Row. This lets you label a spread so three weeks after you enter the trade, you know what you're looking at with a glance. I record the MRCI spread number, the exit date, the average profit for the last 15 years and the stop loss. For example, "3868, 06/15, $786, <$853>".

3. The symbols for commodities and months. MRCI doesn't provide much help for this since their information seems hopelessly out of date, so as you learn what the symbols are, create a list for future reference. The months are easy and unchanging - F=Jan, G=Feb, H=Mar, J=April, K=May, M=June, N=July, Q=August, U=Sept, V=Oct, X=Nov and Z=Dec. The commodity symbols depend on the exchange. For example, Wheat on the CBOT is "W". On the electronic CBOT (ECBOT), the symbol is ZW. The IB platform can help you figure out what is what and since there are only about 25 or so different commodities you'll figure it out. If you get lost, just call the help desk at IB.

This next is important. Different exchanges offer the same commodity with different symbols. You only want to trade the electronic ones with the maximum volume. When in doubt, always choose these exchanges: ECBOT, GLOBEX, and NYMEX. To enter some trades (cotton, o.j.) you'll also use the NYBOT, but when you have an option, only select the first three. Do not, repeat, do not use any 'open outcry' exchange. These are the pit traders wearing the funny coats and you never know what will happen, so stay away.

4. How to enter an order to buy or sell.

5. How to enter a Combination order. This is a simple way to enter buy, and later sell the spread. You can enter each leg of a spread (long this, short that) and execute both legs, but it is easiest to just create a Combination order using the "Smart Spread" tab and specify the legs and months of the spread.

6. How to subscribe to Market Data. These are the data feeds that give you real time pricing for the legs of the spreads. Don't bother subscribing to the NYBOT feed, as it is ridiculously expensive and rarely used. You basically get all you need for free when you open an account with IB and enter some number of trades per month. I don't subscribe to any of the premium services.

7. How to enter an order with a Condition. This is critical for the cruiser because it lets you specify that a set of actions, like buying or selling a spread will happen at a particular time on a particular date. I use this when I'm going to be out of range of the Internet for a period of time, as well as to set up all trading activities for the next week, all to be auto executed throughout the week. For example, this week there are two spreads to enter and none to exit. One enters on Tuesday, the other on Wednesday. I set up the purchase of these spreads as MARKET orders for 10 a.m. on those dates. I always use Market orders because if you use a limit order for a spread, one leg will execute, but the other won't until the limit spread value is reached. Which it may not. So on auto execute orders you can be 500 miles from shore and end up long one month without the short leg ever executing - not what you wanted. So, only use market orders. I use 10 a.m. because that is a period of maximum liquidity.

I think that's it. A bit to learn, but once learned it only takes me about 45 minutes per account I trade on Sunday to set up a week's worth of activity that is profitable whether the markets are going up, or going down. But because it is a bit to learn about something pretty arcane, most people don't bother.
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Old 10-03-2013, 14:30   #62
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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Originally Posted by Maren View Post
There is an edge to the methodology you're purposing (returns are higher than the market) and a requirement the methodology be strictly followed.

Here is my concern: There is something philosophically wrong with the idea anyone can do this. The part of the discipline is relatively easy if the system is mechanically traded. Drawdowns can be managed by only using funds you can loose and having having faith in the system/ability to psychologically withstand drawdowns. But the part that can't be addressed is the edge. Think of it this way, what if 95% of the people were to do this, would they all be in the top say 10% of traders?

Obviously, no. The reason this makes money is because there is an edge. Once the edge goes away, so too do the returns.
Maren, I've been noodling the same question, but I am quite sure it is purely hypothetical so whatever the answer it isn't likely to affect returns. I base that on the fact that for a long time I, and probably no more than a few hundred others, have been trading this way and producing results that are much better than whatever option B is. I have explained it to a great many people, not because I need any affirmation on what I am doing but because I can't see any particular reason for other people not to make money. I just don't see how that hurts me, but even though I can point to the consistent returns very, very few people ever follow through and do it themselves. For some, it is because someone tells them to invest in diamonds, or Swiss Francs, or storage units, and these are much easier to understand than spread trading. For others, it's probably just inertia. Beats me, but I'm not too worried about spread trading returns being distorted because too many people are engaged. And I'm not sure, butI don't think that increasing volume can do anything to the pricing relationship between the spread legs. If everyone were short, or everyone were long, then market returns would be distorted. But in this case, everyone would be BOTH short AND long, so I have trouble thinking through how distortion can occur since the movement between the legs is not based on speculation, but on tangible events in the real world, like when crops are harvested etc.

If there is an edge, it is the edge of learning how to place trades on the hideously complex Interactive Brokers platform, or the willingness/ability to stick to the program and ignore the drawdowns in order to achieve the average, which turns out to be very good profitability on a broad range of commodities that in the aggregate represent a fairly low risk investment with much higher than normal volatility. That's not an edge everyone can have because not everyone is psychologically capable of the frame of mind required.
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Old 10-03-2013, 15:37   #63
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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Originally Posted by Delfin View Post
So, other than using your first posts on a cruising forum to comment on how splendid the reflection in your mirror looks, do you have something substantive and actionable on the topic of how people interested in sustaining a cruising lifestyle with modest capital can accomplish that objective?
That's a fair criticism.

Some may call this pessimism, some may consider it pragmatism. I think that once one starts cruising, one should assume no sustainable income other than through existing passive investments, unless one is able to transition an existing profitable business onto a floating platform. It's great to have a portfolio, but the shorter your time horizon on tinkering and trading, the worse you'll do.

Not only do I think it's hard to do active trading on a boat, I think it's hard off a boat without access to resources like a Bloomberg terminal that most non-experts simply don't have. All edges in trading are discoverable statistically and algorithmically and can be acted on faster and better by dark hedges than by any individual.

This is where I will get lambasted again for throwing out big words. If one's understanding of investing is governed by looking for trends through simple gaussian stochastic correlation, realize that there are people who model Markov sinks, quasi-random Monte Carlos, know why Chebyshev polynomials are bad, and how graph Laplacians can be solved in near linear time.

What happens then is that you assume a bigger burden of risk than they do. You may make money, but it's like being a turkey on a farm on October and saying based on past performance I foresee a long life through Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond.

If you can trade on a longer term window than anyone whose bonus is based on quarterly numbers, that may be an edge you can exploit. I'd gauge 3-5 years a a minimum time horizon. Google Charlie Munger's thoughts his decision tree on infrequent, long term trades. However, that is hard to do in commodities unless (as I mentioned in a prior post) you can take physical delivery of the commodity.
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Old 10-03-2013, 16:48   #64
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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That's a fair criticism.

Some may call this pessimism, some may consider it pragmatism.
Perhaps. I would just call it egotism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aargau View Post
I think that once one starts cruising, one should assume no sustainable income other than through existing passive investments, unless one is able to transition an existing profitable business onto a floating platform. It's great to have a portfolio, but the shorter your time horizon on tinkering and trading, the worse you'll do.
In other words, you have no practical input to the question of sustaining a cruising lifestyle with limited capital.

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Originally Posted by Aargau View Post
Not only do I think it's hard to do active trading on a boat, I think it's hard off a boat without access to resources like a Bloomberg terminal that most non-experts simply don't have. All edges in trading are discoverable statistically and algorithmically and can be acted on faster and better by dark hedges than by any individual.
Since the IB platform offers real time data and instantaneous trade execution and is accessible to anyone with Internet access, you would be mistaken. The fact that someone else is, based on superior analytics, going long unleaded and short heating oil 15.237 seconds sooner than I am is completely irrelevant since the average hold time of a spread is a few weeks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aargau View Post
This is where I will get lambasted again for throwing out big words. If one's understanding of investing is governed by looking for trends through simple gaussian stochastic correlation, realize that there are people who model Markov sinks, quasi-random Monte Carlos, know why Chebyshev polynomials are bad, and how graph Laplacians can be solved in near linear time.
Wow, who knew there are people modeling Markov sinks and that Chebyshev polynomials are bad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aargau View Post
What happens then is that you assume a bigger burden of risk than they do. You may make money, but it's like being a turkey on a farm on October and saying based on past performance I foresee a long life through Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond.
Well, since this turkey is seeing its 13th Christmas making money I'm going to throw caution to the wind and presume I'll see a 14th.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aargau View Post
If you can trade on a longer term window than anyone whose bonus is based on quarterly numbers, that may be an edge you can exploit. I'd gauge 3-5 years a a minimum time horizon. Google Charlie Munger's thoughts his decision tree on infrequent, long term trades. However, that is hard to do in commodities unless (as I mentioned in a prior post) you can take physical delivery of the commodity.
This last demonstrates that you haven't got the foggiest clue what spread trading is about. None whatsoever. Troll on.
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Old 10-03-2013, 18:48   #65
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Re: Making a living while cruising

Following Delfin's lead, I started spread trading two years ago. My win vs lose ratio has been 64% and my profit has been $140,000. I have no special expertise in the field.
I do it for fun, using money I can afford to lose.
I just use the IB platform and a subscription to MRCI.
I do cherry pick to make it more interesting, whether it makes it more profitable I am not sure.
The only downsides are that as far as I know, you can't put a stop order on a spread so a bad trade can bomb if you are not paying enough attention and that trading from Australia the action happens while I am asleep!
If you were out of computer contact for more than a few days, it could be chancy.
Its not rocket science, but you do need some unencumbered money to play with in the first instance.

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Old 10-03-2013, 19:38   #66
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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Following Delfin's lead, I started spread trading two years ago. My win vs lose ratio has been 64% and my profit has been $140,000. I have no special expertise in the field.
I do it for fun, using money I can afford to lose.
I just use the IB platform and a subscription to MRCI.
I do cherry pick to make it more interesting, whether it makes it more profitable I am not sure.
The only downsides are that as far as I know, you can't put a stop order on a spread so a bad trade can bomb if you are not paying enough attention and that trading from Australia the action happens while I am asleep!
If you were out of computer contact for more than a few days, it could be chancy.
Its not rocket science, but you do need some unencumbered money to play with in the first instance.

Regards,
Richard.
Nice to hear it worked out for you Richard. I gather you were able to steer clear of those pesky Chebyshev polynomials.

Could you share the basis for discrimination you are using for which trades to enter and which not?

Regarding stops, I did ask Moore a few years ago whether they had ever modeled no stops on the spreads, since they don't use them on their straight leg trades. They said they had and it didn't change the results. My approach is when I am going to be incommunicado for some days to ask my son to look in on the account daily and see if any spread has hit the stop. If so, he liquidates it.
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Old 10-03-2013, 19:53   #67
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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Originally Posted by Delfin View Post
Maren, I've been noodling the same question, but I am quite sure it is purely hypothetical so whatever the answer it isn't likely to affect returns. I base that on the fact that for a long time I, and probably no more than a few hundred others, have been trading this way and producing results that are much better than whatever option B is. I have explained it to a great many people, not because I need any affirmation on what I am doing but because I can't see any particular reason for other people not to make money. I just don't see how that hurts me, but even though I can point to the consistent returns very, very few people ever follow through and do it themselves. For some, it is because someone tells them to invest in diamonds, or Swiss Francs, or storage units, and these are much easier to understand than spread trading. For others, it's probably just inertia. Beats me, but I'm not too worried about spread trading returns being distorted because too many people are engaged. And I'm not sure, butI don't think that increasing volume can do anything to the pricing relationship between the spread legs. If everyone were short, or everyone were long, then market returns would be distorted. But in this case, everyone would be BOTH short AND long, so I have trouble thinking through how distortion can occur since the movement between the legs is not based on speculation, but on tangible events in the real world, like when crops are harvested etc.

If there is an edge, it is the edge of learning how to place trades on the hideously complex Interactive Brokers platform, or the willingness/ability to stick to the program and ignore the drawdowns in order to achieve the average, which turns out to be very good profitability on a broad range of commodities that in the aggregate represent a fairly low risk investment with much higher than normal volatility. That's not an edge everyone can have because not everyone is psychologically capable of the frame of mind required.
I wouldn't equate edge with discipline. Both by themselves are necessary but not sufficient for better than average returns.

I think edge loss would be in the form of spreads being narrow to the point where it takes a great deal of capital to trade. In other words, what you might now need 100k to trade, you would need say 300k because of a narrow spread and cost of contracts. That would favor institutional traders who have a greatly lower cost of trading.

Specific to edge, I think it only takes a cursory check to find mechanical trading systems that aren't traded any more due to having lost their uniqueness (i.e. edge).

Personally, I would suggest you look at using a number of different strategies in a number of different asset classes.
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Old 10-03-2013, 21:00   #68
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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I wouldn't equate edge with discipline. Both by themselves are necessary but not sufficient for better than average returns.

I think edge loss would be in the form of spreads being narrow to the point where it takes a great deal of capital to trade. In other words, what you might now need 100k to trade, you would need say 300k because of a narrow spread and cost of contracts. That would favor institutional traders who have a greatly lower cost of trading.

Specific to edge, I think it only takes a cursory check to find mechanical trading systems that aren't traded any more due to having lost their uniqueness (i.e. edge).

Personally, I would suggest you look at using a number of different strategies in a number of different asset classes.
Not sure I'm tracking with you. Spread margins have nothing to do with the price differential between the legs. One particularly profitable trade on right now is unleaded gas over crude, up $13k. The initial margin is $3200 and the maintenance margin is $2600. That would be the margin whatever the price differential between the legs was going in, unless the price of gas suddenly becomes disconnected from the cost of what the gas is made from in the first place. Not likely to happen.

The cost of trading a spread contract is $5.52 and no doubt you could save a a buck or two if you were trading hundreds of contracts at a time. But is that material?

Profit is generated when a purchased spread widens or a shorted spread narrows, so I'm not sure what the edge is, or where it would go. It is true that certain historical spread relationships can change if fundamental drivers of price change. That is one of the reasons why I don't enter the currency spreads, even though they look like they have been quite profitable lately. However, some things like the existence of weather tend to be a little more reliable, with winter usually being colder than summer, and profitable natural spread trades in certain commodities emerging as a result.
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Old 11-03-2013, 03:11   #69
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Re: Making a living while cruising

I don't do anything complicated when deciding whether or not to go with a spread.
Spreads that have followed their seasonal pattern make me more comfortable, as do the ones that have the best annual score.
If I am not sure, I look up info on the particular legs of a spread to get an idea of forecast trends, especially on inter commodity spreads.
Spreads that are trading at or below their annual bottom are also attractive on the assumption that they have more potential for up than down.
Finally, I am quite happy to buy and sell outside the time constraints suggested by MRCI if a spread looks promising.
I have still had some spectacular bombs, so nothing is foolproof.

Regards,
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Old 11-03-2013, 12:30   #70
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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I don't do anything complicated when deciding whether or not to go with a spread.
Spreads that have followed their seasonal pattern make me more comfortable, as do the ones that have the best annual score.
If I am not sure, I look up info on the particular legs of a spread to get an idea of forecast trends, especially on inter commodity spreads.
Spreads that are trading at or below their annual bottom are also attractive on the assumption that they have more potential for up than down.
Finally, I am quite happy to buy and sell outside the time constraints suggested by MRCI if a spread looks promising.
I have still had some spectacular bombs, so nothing is foolproof.

Regards,
Richard.
Richard and Delfin,
Since I wonít be making all the trades that MRCI presents, I appreciate your comments on how you filter trades. Richard noted those strategies in which the current spreads most closely follow the historic trends are appealing, those in which the current price is lower than the historic price, and to consider buying outside the timeframe specified by MRCI.

Delfin noted that the margins on INTRA-commodity spreads are typically lower than the margins of INTER-commodity spreads, which might allow a wider variety of trades on a limited budget.

I see that the historic profit per day varies from less than $10 to over $100. And the length of the trade can be anywhere from two weeks to four months. Can those of you with some experience under your belts suggest whether it is prudent (if one canít take the all trades) to take just the high-profit per day trades (assuming margin requirements can be safely met), or to take just the shorter-duration trades (which would allow you to take more diversified trades)?

Richard, how do you research forecast trends of inter-commodity spreads? Is this through public Internet sources, or pay sources? Any general suggestions on what to look for?


Any other suggestions?


Thank you both for your ideas.
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Old 11-03-2013, 16:32   #71
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Re: Making a living while cruising

ImaginaryNumber,
There are probably many sites on the internet that will give you some information.
I use TradingCharts.com, where you can find techncal analysis commentaries on many of the commodities.
You can also use the charting facility on IB Trader workstation to get a picture of what's happening.
For general commodity news, Agrimoney.com is useful.
Also, Joe Ross does a free commentary which makes interesting reading.
Ideally, you want the buy side of the spread to rise, and the sell side to fall, or any combination of moves that makes the buy side relatively more valuable than the sell side.
In the end, it is only guessing, as nobody can read the future, but maybe you can tweak the odds a bit.
It is worth noting that there are times when seasonality does not seem to work (usually when overpowered by world events). If I had started trading in June 2012 I would probably have given up after three months as it was really tough and I was struggling to hold my position,let alone make any money.

Regards,
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Old 11-03-2013, 18:05   #72
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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Richard and Delfin,
Since I wonít be making all the trades that MRCI presents, I appreciate your comments on how you filter trades. Richard noted those strategies in which the current spreads most closely follow the historic trends are appealing, those in which the current price is lower than the historic price, and to consider buying outside the timeframe specified by MRCI.

Delfin noted that the margins on INTRA-commodity spreads are typically lower than the margins of INTER-commodity spreads, which might allow a wider variety of trades on a limited budget.

I see that the historic profit per day varies from less than $10 to over $100. And the length of the trade can be anywhere from two weeks to four months. Can those of you with some experience under your belts suggest whether it is prudent (if one canít take the all trades) to take just the high-profit per day trades (assuming margin requirements can be safely met), or to take just the shorter-duration trades (which would allow you to take more diversified trades)?

Richard, how do you research forecast trends of inter-commodity spreads? Is this through public Internet sources, or pay sources? Any general suggestions on what to look for?


Any other suggestions?


Thank you both for your ideas.
One approach I have taken in the past is to look at the MRCI chart for a spread as soon as they list it, which can lead the actual date of entry by a month or so. Look at the first image, and note that this spread was trending below the 15 year average, suggesting that it had more upside to it, at least on a historic basis than normal. I have experimented with entering the spread before the published entry date on that basis.

I have also played with evaluating a spread on the basis of where it is relative to a 50 day m.a. that I get through IB for the spread, as well as the 15 year average. The second shot shows a spread that is forming nicely, at least on a historic basis. This spread I might double up on.

Conversely, the third image shows a spread where the current price is well above the 15 year average, suggesting caution. Same with the 4th image. The third image spread has been unprofitable, rewarding caution, while the 4th has been profitable, punishing caution.

I'd like to reiterate Boden's comments on world events overwhelming historic trends. 2012 was a tough year to have started this as he said because of a major drought that pummeled grain spreads. However, this situation also illustrates why staying with the program is so critical, since the losses generated by this unusual event were more than made up for with very profitable platinum/gold spreads later in the year and beginning this year. The last and fifth image shows this spread, which finished up around $13,000. Based on the 'filtering' criteria discussed above, one might not enter this spread. It was above the 15 year average, and above the 50 day m.a. But I would have been very sad not to have entered this spread, but that brings up the final "filter" I have played with over the years. That is to set up a limit order on the spread that is below the entry price and good enough that if it fills, I feel ok about taking the chance with the spread.

Hope that helps.
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Old 13-03-2013, 23:43   #73
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Re: Making a living while cruising

I WANDER IF: is there any other way to make a leaving while cruising, but "trading" !?
Thank You Xav
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Old 14-03-2013, 08:32   #74
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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I WANDER IF: is there any other way to make a leaving while cruising, but "trading" !?
Thank You Xav
Well - you don't need anything except for a computer, internet connection and juice to power the whole stuff.

There is barely anything out there where you can create $$$ while on a journey/cruise.

But the point is - you have to be really (I mean really) good in order to be able to make constant gains.

If spread trading would be so eze (as a few posters here say), then the whole world would do it. Not to mention that the strategy wouldn't work soon (remember it's all a redistribution).

So Xav, if you think you are smart enough then give a try. But I can tell you, it takes quite some time, money and sweat !
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Old 14-03-2013, 09:49   #75
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Re: Making a living while cruising

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I WANDER IF: is there any other way to make a leaving while cruising, but "trading" !?
Thank You Xav
I doubt more than a few percent of people who Trade would make any money whatsoever. Most would lose money. That's how Trading works... A few Sharks make good, everyone else gets poor.

I have always had investments in the share market and before the 2000 crash when the market was only going UP I was cohered to do some Options Trading. Instead of loosing a few thousand dollars here and there now suddenly I could lose BIG money! Once I LOSt $16,000 in one day. That's ONE day. God what I could do now with a lazy $16,000.

It's not easy money to recover either. You've already paid tax on it so its worth a lot more in salary.

Any method that can lose you money is not "earning money whilst cruising" it's gambling!

Mark
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