Author Archives: Michelle Heath

Hedging risk is an integral factor in any intelligent investment strategy. Since no one knows for sure exactly where the markets will move, who’s to say components of your equity portfolio won’t crash and burn when faced with market volatility?

In the game of beating the stock market, many will play and very few will win.

Speculating on potential gains you could achieve on certain investments really isn’t practical. What is practical, though, is assuming an opposite position in single stock futures against your current cash market security position to hedge risk you might encounter. This can be achieved in various ways, one of which is the writing or purchasing of options on single stock futures contracts.

If you’re bullish about single stocks, consider using a synthetic long call strategy. Here, the investor simultaneously assumes a long position and put option on a single stock futures position. Together, the two create a something comparable to a long call. The very attractive benefit of this move being that your maximum loss is limited to just commission plus the premium paid on the option, while your maximum gain is virtually unlimited.

Say you are very confident that the share prices of company X will rise. Instead of buying stock outright at $49 per share, which runs you the risk of loss should the market move against you, you purchase one single stock futures contract on company X. you then take it one step further by buying put options on your futures position. For the premium paid, a long put gives you the right to sell the underlying instrument (future) at the puts strike price, should you choose to exercise it.

Three months later, you learn that you were correct; company X’s share prices have gone up and are now trading at $54 per share. You can now sell your single stock futures contract, which has increased in value along with the underlying security, for a profit. The put you purchased will simply expire unexercised at no harm to your position.

But what if you were wrong? What if the whoopie pies that company X produces have recently been discovered contaminated by salmonella and the result of the news on stock prices is devastating? Well, here is where the put would come into play.

Since the value of the futures contract is correlated with the underlying security, it has also plummeted in price and is now virtually worthless. However, by exercising your put option, you may sell your worthless futures contract at the strike price previously establish when the stock was trading healthfully. Even though company X’s stock price crashed and burned, taking your single stock futures position with it, you can sell it for a loss of only the premium you paid for it along with commissions.

Below is a chart showing a protective long put for visualization of potential outcomes. The red line is the put, and the blue is the spot market, but we will assume it’s the futures position for purposes of the example described above (since spot and futures move together). As you can see, should the stock position continue on an upward trend, you will profit with your long futures position. However, should it take a bearish turn and drop past your purchased put strike price (red) you will have the right to exercise and sell your futures at the strike, which will be more than it is worth.

So why don’t more people establish synthetic long call positions? Is it too much effort? Or do they just not know they exist?

One possibility could tepid congestion. Suppose the cash market stock drops a just few points; enough to sink below your futures purchase price, but not to the point of permeating your puts strike. Then, should congestion ensue until both derivatives reach expiration, you’re stuck with a loss. Granted it would still be limited to 1) the scope of the futures minus the strike of the put and 2) the put premium plus commission, but still, a loss nonetheless.

If you’re bullish, a synthetic long call could possibly serve as a well-protected strategy. Rather than buying the stock outright and risking a hefty loss should the market move against you, for the price of a few fees, you could purchase a put, combine it with a long futures, and limit your losses. Knowledge is power – a well-educated investor has a far better chance of success than an overzealous better.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

We had an exciting week here at Currensee. Dave Lemont, our CEO, and Asaf Yigal, our Co-Founder and VP of Product, went to London to attend the first annual Forex Magnates Summit. As if it wasn’t great enough for Dave and Asaf to mix and mingle with over 550 of the executives in the Forex business, we received the award for “Best Social Trading Platform.” Wahoo!

We have been fans of Michael Greenberg and the team over at Forex Magnets since we started our company. Michael and his team do an excellent job of providing in-depth news and research about what’s happening in the Forex industry. They give honest opinions and provide leading news to help those of us in the Forex business stay on top of this face-paced market.

Since we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be part of an industry event of this magnitude, Asaf Yigal, our co-founder and VP of Product, participated on a panel discussion about emerging financial trends. Also on Asaf's panel were execs from Tradency, FX Bridge, SpotOption, and IG Group. Not too shabby.

Thanks to the Forex Magnates team for a great event, a prestigious award and solidifying our position as a leader in the Forex social trading and investing space.

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

The term “Fiscal Cliff” is being tossed around everywhere since last week’s election. You know it’s a big deal when it hits the New Yorker, known to make political satire out of just about any government-induced malaise.

I came across the article today on NewYorker.com, “The Absolute Moron’s Guide to the Fiscal Cliff,” and it spurred me to write this post. What I think few Americans understand is what the looming doom of the Fiscal Cliff means to our economy and how radically it can change. Some say it will be more like a waterslides, slow and loopy but an eventual drop. Others say it will be more like a cliff, a big drop fast. Regardless of what you believe will happen, the fact is that you need to educate yourself of the basics of what the “Fiscal Cliff” means as there’s an important deadline of January 1, 2013 coming up that could change everything.

First, we need to take a ride in the way back machine to the year of 2001, when, according to the New Yorker post,

“George W. Bush signed a massive round of tax cuts that were supposed to expire ten years later, in 2011. President Obama later extended the expiration date to January 1, 2013. After that, your rates will go back up to the rates you paid in 2001. A bunch of other tax changes, like the expiration of a “payroll tax holiday” and the elimination of some tax credits, will also hit on January 1, meaning that no matter how much you pay now, you’ll probably pay more after the new year unless there's a deal.”

So, your question after reading this might be, “Who the heck do I blame for this crazy freakenomics?” The answer is unclear. Do you blame the Republicans for setting a round of tax cuts in the first place? Or do you blame the Democrats for prolonging the decision on said tax cuts to buy time? Regardless of who you blame, if we don’t have a plan and a deal before the expiration date, experts warn of spending cuts and potentially a recession.

Could this fiscal stalemate be Obama’s way to get what he wants in terms of tax hikes? In the words of Voltare, “A long dispute means that both parties are wrong.” Both parties are wrong because no one is right – that’s what compromise, meeting halfway, and making unbiased decisions for the greater good is about.” Let’s see if the leaders of our countries can turn a fiscal cliff into a fiscal decision that keeps our economy from taking a nosedive.

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

The East Coast is feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy, a category 1 hurricane barreling up the coast and hitting New Jersey, New York and Boston, as we speak. Evacuations have forced thousands out of their homes in the Big Apple and surrounding towns. Here in Boston, my friends and colleagues not far from the city are already dealing with power outages and my fingers are crossed as I write this post from my kitchen table.  This map shows what's coming as the storm's leading edge comes around toward us.

As I was prepping the flashlight and bottled water last night, we made the decision to close Currensee offices today to keep our employees safe and sound. The remarkable thing about the closing of the office is that 5-10 years ago, there would have been no such thing as work from home. Unless you had a hard connection into your company’s VPN, you were outta luck, which meant that business stopped.

Today, I have had continuous instant messenger conversations with at least five Currensee team members, made progress on a variety of projects and talked to clients from around the world via Skype. Even though I am not in the office, it’s pretty much business as usual. The Trade Leaders, of course, are all around the world in their own offices.  The other amazing thing is that our operations and systems continue to run seamlessly, although our Ops team is at home manning the systems remotely. Thanks to our stellar Engineering team, all of our staff is trained and ready to keep the business running for our clients.

We are hosting our service in a tier 3 data center facility that is equipped with redundant power, security, and environmental controls. Our data center provider has been preparing for the storm since last Thursday. Both our data center provider staff and Currensee operations team are standing by to take action should storm related damage threaten our service.

Planning for an emergency is about being prepared and in the back of your mind hoping that you never need to implement your emergency plan. I’m proud of our team for great planning, infrastructure and foresight to make Hurricane Sandy just another day "at the office.”

Stay safe, friends.

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

We are thrilled to be nominated for the inaugural UK Forex Awards under the Best Forex Social Media Trading Product category. What an honor!

The UK Forex awards are produced by MSM Media along with (I think there was another company listed MoneyAM maybe?), a leading financial publication in the UK. The awards event recognizes companies who are making great advances in the fields of Forex-related technology, market research, educational resources and world-class customer service. Here at Currensee, these disciplines are part of what we strive to deliver every day for our investors. The awards platform provides both UK Forex traders and private investors an opportunity to recognize companies they feel have performed the best in the Forex industry.

As social investing and social media has taken the financial services industry by storm, we are thrilled to be at the forefront in helping to pioneer exciting changes in the marketplace. It is exciting to be recognized for our contribution – thanks to the UK Forex Awards team for this nomination.

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

In June of 2012, a proposal by the National Futures Association requiring stricter regulation of PAMM accounts went into effect, sending many money managers and CTAs scrambling for PAMM account alternatives.

A PAMM account, or Percentage Allocation Management Module, is simply a way for investment management firms and CTAs to manage individual investor accounts more efficiently. Multiple individual accounts are aggregated into one “Master Account,” which is traded by the money manager or CTA. It is operated as one pooled account and the P&L is divided equally among the investors based on their equity in in it.

In April of 2012, James Bibbings, a former NFA supervising auditor, wrote a very informative post discussing the implications of the pending proposal. Appearing on SeekingAlpha.com, the post explained how the NFA felt PAMM accounts too closely resembled Commodity Pools, without being registered as such.

The points they brought up described multiple instances of structural problems. Issues with liquidity and margin were posing risks to investors and contributing to questions about the fairness of the division of P&L among sub-accounts. In the proposal, the NFA recommended the restructuring of PAMM accounts as a means of eradicating any dangers they could cause participating investors.
Bibbings also notes that PAMM scrutiny has reached the state level. Pennsylvania state security regulators saw the PAMM allocation system as a mechanism that was generating a “synthetic securities product.” This view made PAMM accounts subject to many additional securities laws and regulations in Pennsylvania, and could do so in other states, too.

At the time of Bibbings post, things weren’t looking good for PAMM accounts as they fell under intense regulatory scrutiny. Two months later, after the proposal took effect, “traditional” PAMM accounts began disappearing to make their necessary compliance changes. Some companies have seized the opportunity to create PAMM alternatives and others offer consulting services to help existing PAMMs comply with the new rules.   These instruments play an integral role in providing CTA’s and Money Managers with the key benefit of PAMM accounts: centralized management.

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

It’s always reassuring when an industry leader releases information shedding positive light on the future of an alternative investment. Today, it was derivatives marketplace Chicago Mercantile Exchange, or CME Group, discussing the promising outlook of foreign currency futures.

Since the CME is arguably the biggest futures exchange out there, is it any surprise they’re touting FX futures contracts? No, not really, but the whole concept of currency futures is still pretty interesting nonetheless. I decided this fit as a nice follow-up to a post I wrote the other day on managed futures and risk mitigation in general, since these particular investments can get a little complex.

For anyone who’s unfamiliar with them, currency futures allow investors to exchange one currency for another on a future date at a specified price that is set at the time of the agreement.  This allows investors the ability to make a purchase that will be executed sometime in the future for the price it would cost them today. In turn, they’re granted protection against exchange rate fluctuations, which could end up working for or against them depending on where the currency pair moves.

Derek Sammann, global head of foreign exchange and interest rates at CME Group, explains how, due to rapid economic globalization, cross-boarder asset flows show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. This provides both a growing opportunity for potential prosperity, as well as risk, for investors interested in tapping the $4 trillion a day foreign currency market.

As Forex continues to become a more mainstream alternative investment option, the need for a supplementary vehicle for hedging risk will inevitably rise. Currency futures are just one avenue investors can take to fill that need. Others come in the form of continuously developing advanced software controls within the realm of spot Forex trading. As various up and coming forms of alternative investments popularize, it is interesting to note what types of risk controls they will inspire and bring with them.

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

In terms of making an investment that’s not in sync with the stock market while still battling market volatility, managed futures are looking like one of the diversified investor’s weapons of choice. Their biggest strengths come from an ability to thrive in all sorts of market conditions, divergence from the performance of more traditional investments, and the management of Commodity Trade Advisor’s whose strategies hedge risk.

As equities continuously suffer the wrath of unfortunate global economic health, we find ourselves in the optimum environment for alternative investing. Alan Reid, CEO of investment advisory firm Forward, says it best (and simplest) with, “managed futures strategies have a record of zigging when equity markets zag”. And he has the data to back it up.

A recent report produced by Forward plainly demonstrates managed futures immense lack of correlation by looking at the performance of the Barclay’s CTA, an index measuring the performance of Commodity Trading Advisors (managed futures specialists). During the first few years of the new millennium while the dot-com bust wrought devastation upon the stock markets, the Barclay CTA continued to deliver positive returns.

 

 

According to Forward’s report, over a 32-year period ending December 31, 2011, the CTA Index gained 5.21 percent annually, while the S&P 500 saw average gains of only 0.31 percent. During the last two major financial crises, the gains of the CTA Index remained in the double-digits, while those of the S&P hit negatives. How’s that for all weather investment?

Now more than ever, with global economic growth in question and strong market volatility threatening confidence in stocks, investors should be focusing on playing defense. And what better way to do that than with an alternative investment that’s past performance has demonstrated it clearly zigging when the equities markets zag?

 

 

 

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.