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Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part 3/3

Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part 3/3
Welcome to the third and final part of this chapter.
Thank you all for the 100s of comments and upvotes - maybe this post will take us above 1,000 for this topic!
Keep any feedback or questions coming in the replies below.
Before you read this note, please start with Part I and then Part II so it hangs together and makes sense.
Part III
  • Squeezes and other risks
  • Market positioning
  • Bet correlation
  • Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits

Squeezes and other risks

We are going to cover three common risks that traders face: events; squeezes, asymmetric bets.

Events

Economic releases can cause large short-term volatility. The most famous is Non Farm Payrolls, which is the most widely watched measure of US employment levels and affects the price of many instruments.On an NFP announcement currencies like EURUSD might jump (or drop) 100 pips no problem.
This is fine and there are trading strategies that one may employ around this but the key thing is to be aware of these releases.You can find economic calendars all over the internet - including on this site - and you need only check if there are any major releases each day or week.
For example, if you are trading off some intraday chart and scalping a few pips here and there it would be highly sensible to go into a known data release flat as it is pure coin-toss and not the reason for your trading. It only takes five minutes each day to plan for the day ahead so do not get caught out by this. Many retail traders get stopped out on such events when price volatility is at its peak.

Squeezes

Short squeezes bring a lot of danger and perhaps some opportunity.
The story of VW and Porsche is the best short squeeze ever. Throughout these articles we've used FX examples wherever possible but in this one instance the concept (which is also highly relevant in FX) is best illustrated with an historical lesson from a different asset class.
A short squeeze is when a participant ends up in a short position they are forced to cover. Especially when the rest of the market knows that this participant can be bullied into stopping out at terrible levels, provided the market can briefly drive the price into their pain zone.

There's a reason for the car, don't worry
Hedge funds had been shorting VW stock. However the amount of VW stock available to buy in the open market was actually quite limited. The local government owned a chunk and Porsche itself had bought and locked away around 30%. Neither of these would sell to the hedge-funds so a good amount of the stock was un-buyable at any price.
If you sell or short a stock you must be prepared to buy it back to go flat at some point.
To cut a long story short, Porsche bought a lot of call options on VW stock. These options gave them the right to purchase VW stock from banks at slightly above market price.
Eventually the banks who had sold these options realised there was no VW stock to go out and buy since the German government wouldn’t sell its allocation and Porsche wouldn’t either. If Porsche called in the options the banks were in trouble.
Porsche called in the options which forced the shorts to buy stock - at whatever price they could get it.
The price squeezed higher as those that were short got massively squeezed and stopped out. For one brief moment in 2008, VW was the world’s most valuable company. Shorts were burned hard.

Incredible event
Porsche apparently made $11.5 billion on the trade. The BBC described Porsche as “a hedge fund with a carmaker attached.”
If this all seems exotic then know that the same thing happens in FX all the time. If everyone in the market is talking about a key level in EURUSD being 1.2050 then you can bet the market will try to push through 1.2050 just to take out any short stops at that level. Whether it then rallies higher or fails and trades back lower is a different matter entirely.
This brings us on to the matter of crowded trades. We will look at positioning in more detail in the next section. Crowded trades are dangerous for PNL. If everyone believes EURUSD is going down and has already sold EURUSD then you run the risk of a short squeeze.
For additional selling to take place you need a very good reason for people to add to their position whereas a move in the other direction could force mass buying to cover their shorts.
A trading mentor when I worked at the investment bank once advised me:
Always think about which move would cause the maximum people the maximum pain. That move is precisely what you should be watching out for at all times.

Asymmetric losses

Also known as picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. This risk has caught out many a retail trader. Sometimes it is referred to as a "negative skew" strategy.
Ideally what you are looking for is asymmetric risk trade set-ups: that is where the downside is clearly defined and smaller than the upside. What you want to avoid is the opposite.
A famous example of this going wrong was the Swiss National Bank de-peg in 2012.
The Swiss National Bank had said they would defend the price of EURCHF so that it did not go below 1.2. Many people believed it could never go below 1.2 due to this. Many retail traders therefore opted for a strategy that some describe as ‘picking up pennies in front of a steam-roller’.
They would would buy EURCHF above the peg level and hope for a tiny rally of several pips before selling them back and keep doing this repeatedly. Often they were highly leveraged at 100:1 so that they could amplify the profit of the tiny 5-10 pip rally.
Then this happened.

Something that changed FX markets forever
The SNB suddenly did the unthinkable. They stopped defending the price. CHF jumped and so EURCHF (the number of CHF per 1 EUR) dropped to new lows very fast. Clearly, this trade had horrific risk : reward asymmetry: you risked 30% to make 0.05%.
Other strategies like naively selling options have the same result. You win a small amount of money each day and then spectacularly blow up at some point down the line.

Market positioning

We have talked about short squeezes. But how do you know what the market position is? And should you care?
Let’s start with the first. You should definitely care.
Let’s imagine the entire market is exceptionally long EURUSD and positioning reaches extreme levels. This makes EURUSD very vulnerable.
To keep the price going higher EURUSD needs to attract fresh buy orders. If everyone is already long and has no room to add, what can incentivise people to keep buying? The news flow might be good. They may believe EURUSD goes higher. But they have already bought and have their maximum position on.
On the flip side, if there’s an unexpected event and EURUSD gaps lower you will have the entire market trying to exit the position at the same time. Like a herd of cows running through a single doorway. Messy.
We are going to look at this in more detail in a later chapter, where we discuss ‘carry’ trades. For now this TRYJPY chart might provide some idea of what a rush to the exits of a crowded position looks like.

A carry trade position clear-out in action
Knowing if the market is currently at extreme levels of long or short can therefore be helpful.
The CFTC makes available a weekly report, which details the overall positions of speculative traders “Non Commercial Traders” in some of the major futures products. This includes futures tied to deliverable FX pairs such as EURUSD as well as products such as gold. The report is called “CFTC Commitments of Traders” ("COT").
This is a great benchmark. It is far more representative of the overall market than the proprietary ones offered by retail brokers as it covers a far larger cross-section of the institutional market.
Generally market participants will not pay a lot of attention to commercial hedgers, which are also detailed in the report. This data is worth tracking but these folks are simply hedging real-world transactions rather than speculating so their activity is far less revealing and far more noisy.
You can find the data online for free and download it directly here.

Raw format is kinda hard to work with

However, many websites will chart this for you free of charge and you may find it more convenient to look at it that way. Just google “CFTC positioning charts”.

But you can easily get visualisations
You can visually spot extreme positioning. It is extremely powerful.
Bear in mind the reports come out Friday afternoon US time and the report is a snapshot up to the prior Tuesday. That means it is a lagged report - by the time it is released it is a few days out of date. For longer term trades where you hold positions for weeks this is of course still pretty helpful information.
As well as the absolute level (is the speculative market net long or short) you can also use this to pick up on changes in positioning.
For example if bad news comes out how much does the net short increase? If good news comes out, the market may remain net short but how much did they buy back?
A lot of traders ask themselves “Does the market have this trade on?” The positioning data is a good method for answering this. It provides a good finger on the pulse of the wider market sentiment and activity.
For example you might say: “There was lots of noise about the good employment numbers in the US. However, there wasn’t actually a lot of position change on the back of it. Maybe everyone who wants to buy already has. What would happen now if bad news came out?”
In general traders will be wary of entering a crowded position because it will be hard to attract additional buyers or sellers and there could be an aggressive exit.
If you want to enter a trade that is showing extreme levels of positioning you must think carefully about this dynamic.

Bet correlation

Retail traders often drastically underestimate how correlated their bets are.
Through bitter experience, I have learned that a mistake in position correlation is the root of some of the most serious problems in trading. If you have eight highly correlated positions, then you are really trading one position that is eight times as large.
Bruce Kovner of hedge fund, Caxton Associates
For example, if you are trading a bunch of pairs against the USD you will end up with a simply huge USD exposure. A single USD-trigger can ruin all your bets. Your ideal scenario — and it isn’t always possible — would be to have a highly diversified portfolio of bets that do not move in tandem.
Look at this chart. Inverted USD index (DXY) is green. AUDUSD is orange. EURUSD is blue.

Chart from TradingView
So the whole thing is just one big USD trade! If you are long AUDUSD, long EURUSD, and short DXY you have three anti USD bets that are all likely to work or fail together.
The more diversified your portfolio of bets are, the more risk you can take on each.
There’s a really good video, explaining the benefits of diversification from Ray Dalio.
A systematic fund with access to an investable universe of 10,000 instruments has more opportunity to make a better risk-adjusted return than a trader who only focuses on three symbols. Diversification really is the closest thing to a free lunch in finance.
But let’s be pragmatic and realistic. Human retail traders don’t have capacity to run even one hundred bets at a time. More realistic would be an average of 2-3 trades on simultaneously. So what can be done?
For example:
  • You might diversify across time horizons by having a mix of short-term and long-term trades.
  • You might diversify across asset classes - trading some FX but also crypto and equities.
  • You might diversify your trade generation approach so you are not relying on the same indicators or drivers on each trade.
  • You might diversify your exposure to the market regime by having some trades that assume a trend will continue (momentum) and some that assume we will be range-bound (carry).
And so on. Basically you want to scan your portfolio of trades and make sure you are not putting all your eggs in one basket. If some trades underperform others will perform - assuming the bets are not correlated - and that way you can ensure your overall portfolio takes less risk per unit of return.
The key thing is to start thinking about a portfolio of bets and what each new trade offers to your existing portfolio of risk. Will it diversify or amplify a current exposure?

Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits

One common mistake is to get bored and restless and put on crap trades. This just means trades in which you have low conviction.
It is perfectly fine not to trade. If you feel like you do not understand the market at a particular point, simply choose not to trade.
Flat is a position.
Do not waste your bullets on rubbish trades. Only enter a trade when you have carefully considered it from all angles and feel good about the risk. This will make it far easier to hold onto the trade if it moves against you at any point. You actually believe in it.
Equally, you need to set monthly limits. A standard limit might be a 10% account balance stop per month. At that point you close all your positions immediately and stop trading till next month.

Be strict with yourself and walk away
Let’s assume you started the year with $100k and made 5% in January so enter Feb with $105k balance. Your stop is therefore 10% of $105k or $10.5k . If your account balance dips to $94.5k ($105k-$10.5k) then you stop yourself out and don’t resume trading till March the first.
Having monthly calendar breaks is nice for another reason. Say you made a load of money in January. You don’t want to start February feeling you are up 5% or it is too tempting to avoid trading all month and protect the existing win. Each month and each year should feel like a clean slate and an independent period.
Everyone has trading slumps. It is perfectly normal. It will definitely happen to you at some stage. The trick is to take a break and refocus. Conserve your capital by not trading a lot whilst you are on a losing streak. This period will be much harder for you emotionally and you’ll end up making suboptimal decisions. An enforced break will help you see the bigger picture.
Put in place a process before you start trading and then it’ll be easy to follow and will feel much less emotional. Remember: the market doesn’t care if you win or lose, it is nothing personal.
When your head has cooled and you feel calm you return the next month and begin the task of building back your account balance.

That's a wrap on risk management

Thanks for taking time to read this three-part chapter on risk management. I hope you enjoyed it. Do comment in the replies if you have any questions or feedback.
Remember: the most important part of trading is not making money. It is not losing money. Always start with that principle. I hope these three notes have provided some food for thought on how you might approach risk management and are of practical use to you when trading. Avoiding mistakes is not a sexy tagline but it is an effective and reliable way to improve results.
Next up I will be writing about an exciting topic I think many traders should look at rather differently: news trading. Please follow on here to receive notifications and the broad outline is below.
News Trading Part I
  • Introduction
  • Why use the economic calendar
  • Reading the economic calendar
  • Knowing what's priced in
  • Surveys
  • Interest rates
  • First order thinking vs second order thinking
News Trading Part II
  • Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
  • Data surprise index
  • Using recent events to predict future reactions
  • Buy the rumour, sell the fact
  • The mysterious 'position trim' effect
  • Reversals
  • Some key FX releases
***

Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
submitted by getmrmarket to Forex [link] [comments]

Former investment bank FX trader: news trading and second order thinking

Former investment bank FX trader: news trading and second order thinking
Thanks to everyone who responded to the previous pieces on risk management. We ended up with nearly 2,000 upvotes and I'm delighted so many of you found it useful.
This time we're going to focus on a new area: reacting to and trading around news and fundamental developments.
A lot of people get this totally wrong and the main reason is that they trade the news at face value, without considering what the market had already priced in. If you've ever seen what you consider to be "good" or "better than forecast" news come out and yet been confused as the pair did nothing or moved in the opposite direction to expected, read on...
We are going to do this in two parts.
Part I
  • Introduction
  • Why use an economic calendar
  • How to read the calendar
  • Knowing what's priced in
  • Surveys
  • Rates decisions
  • First order thinking vs second order thinking

Introduction

Knowing how to use and benefit from the economic calendar is key for all traders - not just news traders.
In this chapter we are going to take a practical look at how to use the economic calendar. We are also going to look at how to interpret news using second order thinking.
The key concept is learning what has already been ‘priced in’ by the market so we can estimate how the market price might react to the new information.

Why use an economic calendar

The economic calendar contains all the scheduled economic releases for that day and week. Even if you purely trade based on technical analysis, you still must know what is in store.

https://preview.redd.it/20xdiq6gq4k51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=6cd47186db1039be7df4d7ad6782de36da48f1db
Why? Three main reasons.
Firstly, releases can help provide direction. They create trends. For example if GBPUSD has been fluctuating aimlessly within a range and suddenly the Bank of England starts raising rates you better believe the British Pound will start to move. Big news events often start long-term trends which you can trade around.
Secondly, a lot of the volatility occurs around these events. This is because these events give the market new information. Prior to a big scheduled release like the US Non Farm Payrolls you might find no one wants to take a big position. After it is released the market may move violently and potentially not just in a single direction - often prices may overshoot and come back down. Even without a trend this volatility provides lots of trading opportunities for the day trader.

https://preview.redd.it/u17iwbhiq4k51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=98ea8ed154c9468cb62037668c38e7387f2435af
Finally, these releases can change trends. Going into a huge release because of a technical indicator makes little sense. Everything could reverse and stop you out in a moment. You need to be aware of which events are likely to influence the positions you have on so you can decide whether to keep the positions or flatten exposure before the binary event for which you have no edge.
Most traders will therefore ‘scan’ the calendar for the week ahead, noting what the big events are and when they will occur. Then you can focus on each day at a time.

Reading the economic calendar


Most calendars show events cut by trading day. Helpfully they adjust the time of each release to your own timezone. For example we can see that the Bank of Japan Interest Rate decision is happening at 4am local time for this particular London-based trader.

https://preview.redd.it/lmx0q9qoq4k51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=c6e9e1533b1ba236e51296de8db3be55dfa78ba1

Note that some events do not happen at a specific time. Think of a Central Banker’s speech for example - this can go on for an hour. It is not like an economic statistic that gets released at a precise time. Clicking the finger emoji will open up additional information on each event.

Event importance

How do you define importance? Well, some events are always unimportant. With the greatest of respect to Italian farmers, nobody cares about mundane releases like Italian farm productivity figures.
Other events always seem to be important. That means, markets consistently react to them and prices move. Interest rate decisions are an example of consistently high importance events.
So the Medium and High can be thought of as guides to how much each event typically affects markets. They are not perfect guides, however, as different events are more or less important depending on the circumstances.
For example, imagine the UK economy was undergoing a consumer-led recovery. The Central Bank has said it would raise interest rates (making GBPUSD move higher) if they feel the consumer is confident.
Consumer confidence data would suddenly become an extremely important event. At other times, when the Central Bank has not said it is focused on the consumer, this release might be near irrelevant.

Knowing what's priced in

Next to each piece of economic data you can normally see three figures. Actual, Forecast, and Previous.
  • Actual refers to the number as it is released.
  • Forecast refers to the consensus estimate from analysts.
  • Previous is what it was last time.
We are going to look at this in a bit more detail later but what you care about is when numbers are better or worse than expected. Whether a number is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ really does not matter much. Yes, really.

Once you understand that markets move based on the news vs expectations, you will be less confused by price action around events

This is a common misunderstanding. Say everyone is expecting ‘great’ economic data and it comes out as ‘good’. Does the price go up?
You might think it should. After all, the economic data was good. However, everyone expected it to be great and it was just … good. The great release was ‘priced in’ by the market already. Most likely the price will be disappointed and go down.
By priced in we simply mean that the market expected it and already bought or sold. The information was already in the price before the announcement.
Incidentally the official forecasts can be pretty stale and might not accurately capture what active traders in the market expect. See the following example.

An example of pricing in

For example, let’s say the market is focused on the number of Tesla deliveries. Analysts think it’ll be 100,000 this quarter. But Elon Musk tweets something that hints he’s really, really, really looking forward to the analyst call. Tesla’s price ticks higher after the tweet as traders put on positions, reflecting the sentiment that Tesla is likely to massively beat the 100,000. (This example is not a real one - it just serves to illustrate the concept.)

Tesla deliveries are up hugely vs last quarter ... but they are disappointing vs market expectations ... what do you think will happen to the stock?

On the day it turns out Tesla hit 101,000. A better than the officially forecasted result - sure - but only marginally. Way below what readers of Musk's twitter account might have thought. Disappointed traders may sell their longs and close out the positions. The stock might go down on ‘good’ results because the market had priced in something even better. (This example is not a real one - it just serves to illustrate the concept.)

Surveys

It can be a little hard to know what the market really expects. Often the published forecasts are stale and do not reflect what actual traders and investors are looking for.
One of the most effective ways is a simple survey of investors. Something like a Twitter poll like this one from CNBC is freely available and not a bad barometer.
CNBC, Bloomberg and other business TV stations often have polls on their Twitter accounts that let you know what others are expecting

Interest rates decisions

We know that interest rates heavily affect currency prices.
For major interest rate decisions there’s a great tool on the CME’s website that you can use.

See the link for a demo

This gives you a % probability of each interest rate level, implied by traded prices in the bond futures market. For example, in the case above the market thinks there’s a 20% chance the Fed will cut rates to 75-100bp.
Obviously this is far more accurate than analyst estimates because it uses actual bond prices where market participants are directly taking risk and placing bets. It basically looks at what interest rate traders are willing to lend at just before/after the date of the central bank meeting to imply the odds that the market ascribes to a change on that date.
Always try to estimate what the market has priced in. That way you have some context for whether the release really was better or worse than expected.

Second order thinking

You have to know what the market expects to try and guess how it’ll react. This is referred to by Howard Marks of Oaktree as second-level thinking. His explanation is so clear I am going to quote extensively.
It really is hard to improve on this clarity of thought:
First-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and just about everyone can do it (a bad sign for anything involving an attempt at superiority). All the first-level thinker needs is an opinion about the future, as in “The outlook for the company is favorable, meaning the stock will go up.” Second-level thinking is deep, complex and convoluted.
Howard Marks
He explains first-level thinking:
The first-level thinker simply looks for the highest quality company, the best product, the fastest earnings growth or the lowest p/e ratio. He’s ignorant of the very existence of a second level at which to think, and of the need to pursue it.
Howard Marks
The above describes the guy who sees a 101,000 result and buys Tesla stock because - hey, this beat expectations. Marks goes on to describe second-level thinking:
The second-level thinker goes through a much more complex process when thinking about buying an asset. Is it good? Do others think it’s as good as I think it is? Is it really as good as I think it is? Is it as good as others think it is? Is it as good as others think others think it is? How will it change? How do others think it will change? How is it priced given: its current condition; how do I think its conditions will change; how others think it will change; and how others think others think it will change? And that’s just the beginning. No, this isn’t easy.
Howard Marks
In this version of events you are always thinking about the market’s response to Tesla results.
What do you think they’ll announce? What has the market priced in? Is Musk reliable? Are the people who bought because of his tweet likely to hold on if he disappoints or exit immediately? If it goes up at which price will they take profit? How big a number is now considered ‘wow’ by the market?
As Marks says: not easy. However, you need to start getting into the habit of thinking like this if you want to beat the market. You can make gameplans in advance for various scenarios.
Here are some examples from Marks to illustrate the difference between first order and second order thinking.

Some further examples
Trying to react fast to headlines is impossible in today’s market of ultra fast computers. You will never win on speed. Therefore you have to out-think the average participant.

Coming up in part II

Now that we have a basic understanding of concepts such as expectations and what the market has priced in, we can look at some interesting trading techniques and tools.
Part II
  • Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
  • Data surprise index
  • Using recent events to predict future reactions
  • Buy the rumour, sell the fact
  • The trimming position effect
  • Reversals
  • Some key FX releases
Hope you enjoyed this note. As always, please reply with any questions/feedback - it is fun to hear from you.
***
Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
submitted by getmrmarket to Forex [link] [comments]

I hope you get filthy fucking rich this week from oil stocks

I have a great feeling about this week. Why? Confidence in the markets. The economy has officially started to recover, in a big way.
Thursday night, my beloved cindicator gave me two signals, saying that the non farm payroll data and unemployment data would beat expectations the following morning. I loaded up on USDJPY longs and holy shit did that work to be fair I was basically break even on the week, but that forex trade felt good af.
Why did oil stocks go up Friday? Because of this data that came out Friday. I’ve never traded pennystocks and forex at the same time, so I was unaware of how these Friday reports would affect penny stocks. But let’s have a look at the data:
Analysts were expecting 9,000,000 jobs to be lost over the past month. Well, 2,000,000 jobs got added. That is a huge surprise. Analysts were also predicting 19% unemployment, and it came in at 13%. WOW. The report came out in the morning, and companies like FET went up 56% in one day lmao (oil is the best indicator of economical health, can’t prop up oil like you can with sp500 etc)
Remember when everyone was talking about oil stocks a month ago? Well, now is the time for oil stocks. With this new data coming out, it means people are getting back to work, and will probably use public transport less/ personal vehicles more (just like is happening in China)
Oh yeah, OPEC agreed to extend production cuts through July
Now is the time for oil stocks
Cheers!
submitted by trevandezz to pennystocks [link] [comments]

Trading economic news

The majority of this sub is focused on technical analysis. I regularly ridicule such "tea leaf readers" and advocate for trading based on fundamentals and economic news instead, so I figured I should take the time to write up something on how exactly you can trade economic news releases.
This post is long as balls so I won't be upset if you get bored and go back to your drooping dick patterns or whatever.

How economic news is released

First, it helps to know how economic news is compiled and released. Let's take Initial Jobless Claims, the number of initial claims for unemployment benefits around the United States from Sunday through Saturday. Initial in this context means the first claim for benefits made by an individual during a particular stretch of unemployment. The Initial Jobless Claims figure appears in the Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report, which compiles information from all of the per-state departments that report to the DOL during the week. A typical number is between 100k and 250k and it can vary quite significantly week-to-week.
The Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report contains data that lags 5 days behind. For example, the Report issued on Thursday March 26th 2020 contained data about the week ending on Saturday March 21st 2020.
In the days leading up to the Report, financial companies will survey economists and run complicated mathematical models to forecast the upcoming Initial Jobless Claims figure. The results of surveyed experts is called the "consensus"; specific companies, experts, and websites will also provide their own forecasts. Different companies will release different consensuses. Usually they are pretty close (within 2-3k), but for last week's record-high Initial Jobless Claims the reported consensuses varied by up to 1M! In other words, there was essentially no consensus.
The Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report is released each Thursday morning at exactly 8:30 AM ET. (On Thanksgiving the Report is released on Wednesday instead.) Media representatives gather at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington DC and are admitted to the "lockup" at 8:00 AM ET. In order to be admitted to the lockup you have to be a credentialed member of a media organization that has signed the DOL lockup agreement. The lockup room is small so there is a limited number of spots.
No phones are allowed. Reporters bring their laptops and connect to a local network; there is a master switch on the wall that prevents/enables Internet connectivity on this network. Once the doors are closed the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report is distributed, with a heading that announces it is "embargoed" (not to be released) prior to 8:30 AM. Reporters type up their analyses of the report, including extracting key figures like Initial Jobless Claims. They load their write-ups into their companies' software, which prepares to send it out as soon as Internet is enabled. At 8:30 AM the DOL representative in the room flips the wall switch and all of the laptops are connected to the Internet, releasing their write-ups to their companies and on to their companies' partners.
Many of those media companies have externally accessible APIs for distributing news. Media aggregators and squawk services (like RanSquawk and TradeTheNews) subscribe to all of these different APIs and then redistribute the key economic figures from the Report to their own subscribers within one second after Internet is enabled in the DOL lockup.
Some squawk services are text-based while others are audio-based. FinancialJuice.com provides a free audio squawk service; internally they have a paid subscription to a professional squawk service and they simply read out the latest headlines to their own listeners, subsidized by ads on the site. I've been using it for 4 months now and have been pretty happy. It usually lags behind the official release times by 1-2 seconds and occasionally they verbally flub the numbers or stutter and have to repeat, but you can't beat the price!
Important - I’m not affiliated with FinancialJuice and I’m not advocating that you use them over any other squawk. If you use them and they misspeak a number and you lose all your money don’t blame me. If anybody has any other free alternatives please share them!

How the news affects forex markets

Institutional forex traders subscribe to these squawk services and use custom software to consume the emerging data programmatically and then automatically initiate trades based on the perceived change to the fundamentals that the figures represent.
It's important to note that every institution will have "priced in" their own forecasted figures well in advance of an actual news release. Forecasts and consensuses all come out at different times in the days leading up to a news release, so by the time the news drops everybody is really only looking for an unexpected result. You can't really know what any given institution expects the value to be, but unless someone has inside information you can pretty much assume that the market has collectively priced in the experts' consensus. When the news comes out, institutions will trade based on the difference between the actual and their forecast.
Sometimes the news reflects a real change to the fundamentals with an economic effect that will change the demand for a currency, like an interest rate decision. However, in the case of the Initial Jobless Claims figure, which is a backwards-looking metric, trading is really just self-fulfilling speculation that market participants will buy dollars when unemployment is low and sell dollars when unemployment is high. Generally speaking, news that reflects a real economic shift has a bigger effect than news that only matters to speculators.
Massive and extremely fast news-based trades happen within tenths of a second on the ECNs on which institutional traders are participants. Over the next few seconds the resulting price changes trickle down to retail traders. Some economic news, like Non Farm Payroll Employment, has an effect that can last minutes to hours as "slow money" follows behind on the trend created by the "fast money". Other news, like Initial Jobless Claims, has a short impact that trails off within a couple minutes and is subsequently dwarfed by the usual pseudorandom movements in the market.
The bigger the difference between actual and consensus, the bigger the effect on any given currency pair. Since economic news releases generally relate to a single currency, the biggest and most easily predicted effects are seen on pairs where one currency is directly effected and the other is not affected at all. Personally I trade USD/JPY because the time difference between the US and Japan ensures that no news will be coming out of Japan at the same time that economic news is being released in the US.
Before deciding to trade any particular news release you should measure the historical correlation between the release (specifically, the difference between actual and consensus) and the resulting short-term change in the currency pair. Historical data for various news releases (along with historical consensus data) is readily available. You can pay to get it exported into Excel or whatever, or you can scroll through it for free on websites like TradingEconomics.com.
Let's look at two examples: Initial Jobless Claims and Non Farm Payroll Employment (NFP). I collected historical consensuses and actuals for these releases from January 2018 through the present, measured the "surprise" difference for each, and then correlated that to short-term changes in USD/JPY at the time of release using 5 second candles.
I omitted any releases that occurred simultaneously as another major release. For example, occasionally the monthly Initial Jobless Claims comes out at the exact same time as the monthly Balance of Trade figure, which is a more significant economic indicator and can be expected to dwarf the effect of the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report.
USD/JPY correlation with Initial Jobless Claims (2018 - present)
USD/JPY correlation with Non Farm Payrolls (2018 - present)
The horizontal axes on these charts is the duration (in seconds) after the news release over which correlation was calculated. The vertical axis is the Pearson correlation coefficient: +1 means that the change in USD/JPY over that duration was perfectly linearly correlated to the "surprise" in the releases; -1 means that the change in USD/JPY was perfectly linearly correlated but in the opposite direction, and 0 means that there is no correlation at all.
For Initial Jobless Claims you can see that for the first 30 seconds USD/JPY is strongly negatively correlated with the difference between consensus and actual jobless claims. That is, fewer-than-forecast jobless claims (fewer newly unemployed people than expected) strengthens the dollar and greater-than-forecast jobless claims (more newly unemployed people than expected) weakens the dollar. Correlation then trails off and changes to a moderate/weak positive correlation. I interpret this as algorithms "buying the dip" and vice versa, but I don't know for sure. From this chart it appears that you could profit by opening a trade for 15 seconds (duration with strongest correlation) that is long USD/JPY when Initial Jobless Claims is lower than the consensus and short USD/JPY when Initial Jobless Claims is higher than expected.
The chart for Non Farm Payroll looks very different. Correlation is positive (higher-than-expected payrolls strengthen the dollar and lower-than-expected payrolls weaken the dollar) and peaks at around 45 seconds, then slowly decreases as time goes on. This implies that price changes due to NFP are quite significant relative to background noise and "stick" even as normal fluctuations pick back up.
I wanted to show an example of what the USD/JPY S5 chart looks like when an "uncontested" (no other major simultaneously news release) Initial Jobless Claims and NFP drops, but unfortunately my broker's charts only go back a week. (I can pull historical data going back years through the API but to make it into a pretty chart would be a bit of work.) If anybody can get a 5-second chart of USD/JPY at March 19, 2020, UTC 12:30 and/or at February 7, 2020, UTC 13:30 let me know and I'll add it here.

Backtesting

So without too much effort we determined that (1) USD/JPY is strongly negatively correlated with the Initial Jobless Claims figure for the first 15 seconds after the release of the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report (when no other major news is being released) and also that (2) USD/JPY is strongly positively correlated with the Non Farms Payroll figure for the first 45 seconds after the release of the Employment Situation report.
Before you can assume you can profit off the news you have to backtest and consider three important parameters.
Entry speed: How quickly can you realistically enter the trade? The correlation performed above was measured from the exact moment the news was released, but realistically if you've got your finger on the trigger and your ear to the squawk it will take a few seconds to hit "Buy" or "Sell" and confirm. If 90% of the price move happens in the first second you're SOL. For back-testing purposes I assume a 5 second delay. In practice I use custom software that opens a trade with one click, and I can reliably enter a trade within 2-3 seconds after the news drops, using the FinancialJuice free squawk.
Minimum surprise: Should you trade every release or can you do better by only trading those with a big enough "surprise" factor? Backtesting will tell you whether being more selective is better long-term or not.
Hold time: The optimal time to hold the trade is not necessarily the same as the time of maximum correlation. That's a good starting point but it's not necessarily the best number. Backtesting each possible hold time will let you find the best one.
The spread: When you're only holding a position open for 30 seconds, the spread will kill you. The correlations performed above used the midpoint price, but in reality you have to buy at the ask and sell at the bid. Brokers aren't stupid and the moment volume on the ECN jumps they will widen the spread for their retail customers. The only way to determine if the news-driven price movements reliably overcome the spread is to backtest.
Stops: Personally I don't use stops, neither take-profit nor stop-loss, since I'm automatically closing the trade after a fixed (and very short) amount of time. Additionally, brokers have a minimum stop distance; the profits from scalping the news are so slim that even the nearest stops they allow will generally not get triggered.
I backtested trading these two news releases (since 2018), using a 5 second entry delay, real historical spreads, and no stops, cycling through different "surprise" thresholds and hold times to find the combination that returns the highest net profit. It's important to maximize net profit, not expected value per trade, so you don't over-optimize and reduce the total number of trades taken to one single profitable trade. If you want to get fancy you can set up a custom metric that combines number of trades, expected value, and drawdown into a single score to be maximized.
For the Initial Jobless Claims figure I found that the best combination is to hold trades open for 25 seconds (that is, open at 5 seconds elapsed and hold until 30 seconds elapsed) and only trade when the difference between consensus and actual is 7k or higher. That leads to 30 trades taken since 2018 and an expected return of... drumroll please... -0.0093 yen per unit per trade.
Yep, that's a loss of approx. $8.63 per lot.
Disappointing right? That's the spread and that's why you have to backtest. Even though the release of the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report has a strong correlation with movement in USD/JPY, it's simply not something that a retail trader can profit from.
Let's turn to the NFP. There I found that the best combination is to hold trades open for 75 seconds (that is, open at 5 seconds elapsed and hold until 80 seconds elapsed) and trade every single NFP (no minimum "surprise" threshold). That leads to 20 trades taken since 2018 and an expected return of... drumroll please... +0.1306 yen per unit per trade.
That's a profit of approx. $121.25 per lot. Not bad for 75 seconds of work! That's a +6% ROI at 50x leverage.

Make it real

If you want to do this for realsies, you need to run these numbers for all of the major economic news releases. Markit Manufacturing PMI, Factory Orders MoM, Trade Balance, PPI MoM, Export and Import Prices, Michigan Consumer Sentiment, Retail Sales MoM, Industrial Production MoM, you get the idea. You keep a list of all of the releases you want to trade, when they are released, and the ideal hold time and "surprise" threshold. A few minutes before the prescribed release time you open up your broker's software, turn on your squawk, maybe jot a few notes about consensuses and model forecasts, and get your finger on the button. At the moment you hear the release you open the trade in the correct direction, hold it (without looking at the chart!) for the required amount of time, then close it and go on with your day.
Some benefits of trading this way: * Most major economic releases come out at either 8:30 AM ET or 10:00 AM ET, and then you're done for the day. * It's easily backtestable. You can look back at the numbers and see exactly what to expect your return to be. * It's fun! Packing your trading into 30 seconds and knowing that institutions are moving billions of dollars around as fast as they can based on the exact same news you just read is thrilling. * You can wow your friends by saying things like "The St. Louis Fed had some interesting remarks on consumer spending in the latest Beige Book." * No crayons involved.
Some downsides: * It's tricky to be fast enough without writing custom software. Some broker software is very slow and requires multiple dialog boxes before a position is opened, which won't cut it. * The profits are very slim, you're not going to impress your instagram followers to join your expensive trade copying service with your 30-second twice-weekly trades. * Any friends you might wow with your boring-ass economic talking points are themselves the most boring people in the world.
I hope you enjoyed this long as fuck post and you give trading economic news a try!
submitted by thicc_dads_club to Forex [link] [comments]

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