Charlie Munger – Cognitive Biases – Liking loving Bias

This is one of my favorites. When you hear a trader say, “I love this stock.” You know they are preparing themselves for distorted facts, ignoring reality and misinterpretation of the facts merely because of their affection towards the stock.

Yes, I said affection.  My belief is that similar to relationships we become married, infatuated, angered and involved emotionally with stocks.  The relationship can last for a couple hours (a fling) or for months, even years (marriage).  As you develop this relationship, regardless of time, you develop feelings.  You’ll hear this in traders talk. “I love this stock.” “I understand how it moves.” “I just get it with this one.”  Sound familiar?

It’s great you found your love and if it’s healthy, you’ll be profitable.  However, there are biases you will experience because you have developed feelings.

  • Not believing the pattern:  Your significant other always buys you ice cream after the market closes.  Last Friday they didn’t show up with ice cream.  You may dismiss this as an anomaly but the truth is your significant other meet someone else and will no longer be bringing you ice cream, you just have no idea.  Monday you wait, Tuesday… you get the idea. Mean while you’re pissing away money waiting for the same pattern to develop that is now gone.  Guess what. Time to move on.
  • Distorting Reality:  2 weeks go by and you are still trying to catch that same pattern.  It finally happens and you say, “omg yes finally, she’s back.” but it turns out they just had a fight and you’re still shit outta luck.  This also reinforces the operant conditioning that has been happening.  Your perception of reality is no longer accurate, you make allowances that you would not normally make because you have feelings.

Feelings aren’t all bad in the market but the right ones are key.  When “the stars align,” you just know.  It’s a gut feeling.  When you like/love someone or something your reality with it will change. It was an adaptation that was passed down.  It works evolutionarily that if someone in your party fucked you over but you like/loved them and needed their cooperation in the future… It makes sense that you should distort reality for the greater good that is your survival and continue to work with them.  However,   The superfluous feelings you develop for a stock that once made you money though deserves there rightful place in the bowels of memory.

Charlie Munger – Cognitive Biases – Reward and Punishment

Incentives or rewards are powerful motivators for us.  They drive us to start & stop behaviors we enjoy or dislike.  This powerful concept affects us every day we trade both explicitly and implicitly.

Explicit incentives.  It’s very simple the more money we make the more we are incentivised to repeat those behaviors.  There is no boss that, says, “If you make double what you risked today, I’ll give you a 10% bonus.”  We do however, have a voice that tells us we’d be better off with more money

Implicit incentives: These, I believe, is what really motivates us.  Knowing that if you make more money you live a better life.  This illusion or fiction that you create incentivises you to make more money at trading.  This can be a dangerous path to take.  Because we may not be associating the correct behaviors with profitable trading.  A great counter example of this is over trading.  When we believe that trading for the sake of trading will yield a profitable result.  An example of a proper correlation with good profitable trading behaviors is typically, finding your patterns and playing those.

Let’s go Freud… The repetition compulsion.  You are not always rewarding your self with what is considered “good.”  You will see this with the popularized movie 50 shades of grey.  Being hit isn’t necessarily a “good” thing to most people but to some it’s rewarding.  The same thing can happen while trading.  If you have an underlying belief that, “You’re a bad trader,” or “I’m no good, i can’t do anything right.” You are rewarding the most powerful part of your brain (the unconscious)  every time you may a bad trade. You repeat this stressful pattern repeatedly, this is the repetition compulsion.  It’s my belief, that you repeat it, so you can become aware of it, so that you can have that cathartic moment to finally release it.  Sadly, however, this often is not the case.

Don’t ever underestimate the effects of rewards & punishment on your behavior.  They operate within and without our awareness.

Intregral Theory – Market Algorithmic Development

Integral theory. Never leave home without it.  The new algorithm I’m testing is the 5-34 strategy.  I found it on a website a long time ago and the gentleman seemed to speak highly of it.  It’s a simple exponential moving average crossover strategy.  Before I go and tweak risk parameters, entry & exit locations, and overnight holdings I consult the integral framework.  Here is how.

Lines: What set of “skills” / Attributes does the stock need?  If we can define something as intangible as a “spiritual” line of development I can certainly define a volume line of development and a price line of development.  What attributes do I want this stock to have? High volume? Price great than $10? Strong beta? strong correlation with the sector?  All of these questions are valid as you do the same filtering when selecting a mate. Is she smart? Do they care for themselves, etc.

Levels: I sort of touched on this in lines by stating qualities of the lines such as High, low, medium, strong, and weak.  What level of development is the beta at? 0.02 or .95 beta?  How level of volume exists? Average of less than 1,000,000 or great than 10,000,000 on average?

States:  States are often temporary, and in my opinion, are expressed in terms of intra-day fundamentals.  Was it downgraded or upgraded? Did it just release earnings and is now in a state of frenzied buying? Are buyout rumors circulating?  These temporary bursts of volatility I  define as state dependent movement.  The stock will not move the same after earnings unless there is something that helps maintain that exuberant state.

Types: I define type as a sector.  Is it in the financial sector, technology sector, etc.  When someone asks “what type of stock it is” often people define it in a qualitative form.  Someone may ask “what type of stock is AAPL.”  “A technology company that makes computers…” a person may reply.  I don’t often hear people define stocks in terms of their lines & levels such as It’s an extremely (level) volatile (line) stocks.  They may go on to describe these attributes if asked for more information, but this is beyond the “Oh yes, Jerry is a nice person.”

Quadrants:  This section holds the bulk of my development.  We’ll go through each quadrant separately.  I have changed the order of the quardrants to make the most challenging one last (Upper-left).  We’ll start with the easiest, Upper-Right

  • Upper-Right: The external behavioral space.  How does this stock behavior.  Is it forming patterns? Does it respect those patterns? How does the stock move? Does it trend or chop?  In the upper-right quadrant, you can witness the behavior of the stock, it’s verifiable and real.
  • Bottom-Left:  What does the collective “us” think about this stock today?  I am going to repeat myself and say, does it form patterns & does it respect them. We must discriminate between these two statements in the different quadrants though.  When we look at at chart we can all see different patterns emerge, but the difference with the quadrant is do we as a collective agree that we see a head & shoulders or double top.  This is what will change the emergence of a pattern and it’s ability to fulfill it’s “destiny” from simply noticing their existence in the chart.
  • Bottom-Right:  The collective system.  Is the stock hard to borrow? Are there any regulatory or tax rules that impede or assist me trading this stock?  Are there any technology systems that I can take advantage of?  This section also holds the concept of relative strength.  Is this stock strong or weak compared to it’s sector and compared to the broader market.
  • Upper-left:  The internal space.  What does this stock think about itself?  This is a challenging conception. Does the stock even think?  I believe it does and here is why. As humans, we’re conditioned by the other quadrants to form internal conceptualization.  A “spoon” is not a spoon if we are never taught it’s a spoon.  So we can’t hold up a “spoon” and say, “it’s a spoon.” I believe the stock equivalent is the formation and fulfillment of patterns.  Since stocks can not speak (like animals) we look for patterns that define an internal state.  This dog has a wild temperament while this one likes to sleep & is very calm.  This stock is wild, volatile and usually, drops after creating a double top.  It has an identifiable unique pattern different from every other stocks.  The real philosophical issue with this quadrant in terms of stocks is that you can never enter someone elses internal state.  It’s sometimes impossible to know it exists since you never have direct access to it from an objective standpoint.  However, as humans, we can get close to understanding someone’s internal state and we call this concept integrity.  Are they telling me what’s really going on in their head?

As I develop the 5-34 strategy I will continue to post in more detail about how each of these is expressed in my code.