Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Notes - In Transit to NY

6:00pm I'm on my way to NY care of Amtrak, so will keep much of this to shorthand as I don't know how long my battery will last.

Quite the full day as follows:

First some decent initial feedback on the resurfacing of the trader tax bill:

Pat Lafferty (My broker at MF Global who is a MAJOR player in the futures industry and who I trust with my life and will be meeting in NY): "Word around here is that this thing has ZERO chance of getting through. Nobody is worried about this at all."

Tim Bourquin (Founder of the Expo and who I'll also be seeing in NY): "My sense is that there is enough lobbying power in the CME and others to defeat this so I’m not terribly worried."

Nevertheless, part of the reason for my change in heart to go to NY is to hear this firsthand.

Now, on to today where thanks to finally seeing some pace and emotion in the market ('bout time), I closed out an acceptable +$27K weekly chip gain with a decent +$11K Friday performance in this short week. And as is usually the case when we have emotion, I made much of it in "catcher mitt" mode when first longs were giving it up after lunch and had to sell to someone, and then later when shorts were following suit, having to buy from someone on the post-2pm panic covering. Imagine if the tax goes through ... who will they have on the other side of the trade when they need to get out???

The interesting part of today's trade for me is that I was distracted at times booking my travel and making other last minute changes for the weekend (we made the train by 10 minutes!), yet I had an exceptional energy level today and was able to still focus on the task at hand as the market gave us some solid emotion in the afternoon session.

Just when you think it's darkest in terms of market pace and stupid legislators, days like today provide us continued hope.

I'll update the performance grid to the left shortly and continue to post throughout the weekend. If enough folks are interested in some drinks in NY, I'm buying.


Unknown said...


I am at a particularly difficult point right now in my trading (a place where I seem to have found myself at least a few times over the last two years I'm afraid!). I have been actively trading futures for about two years, and stock and options for about ten. My problem is this: I am almost 38 years old, have four young kids (the oldest is 8), and my wife doesn't work outside the home. I do have an income from a business that I own (thank goodness!), but have had some fairly large trading losses over the last year. Each of these has made me understand more about myself, especially my weaknesses.
Here's my question: Have you ever found yourself drastically undercapitalized in your trading career, and if so, how did you manage to keep the faith and patience that is needed to perservere? And, has anyone ever told you that you are "obsessed" with trading and that you need to find other activites to balance yourself out? My wife says I am obsessed, and it definitely takes an emotional toll on me when things aren't working out, but I believe that one needs to be obsessed to log the hours needed to gain the experience needed to be successful in this business.

Hope I'm not coming off as too negative--it is definitely hard to break through to the success level like you have had, but I am confident that I will if I can keep the faith so to speak.

Have a great weekend Don. Wish I could make it for drinks, but have family commitments this weekend.

Mike Preston

Scott said...


Is there anyway of knowing the system "method" you apply so I can follow your trading journal?

Don Miller said...

Hi Mike -

Low on battery, so will type quickly.

Good to hear you have income from another venue ... a nice safety net.

Yes, I had financial challenges early in my career, and spoke very publicly in the early 90s about the time when I left the safety of my corporate executive position to pursue this crazy biz, and after doing so, going through hell experiencing losses even after generating consistent gains up to that point.

I too had a young family, big mortgage, etc.

Along the way, I did some part-time consulting in my old industry which helped and sold our large executive dream home we'd just built in the Midwest and moved back to an old family 3-bedroom ranch home on the Cape ... which we've since expanded and rennovated.

As for obsessive, yup I am ... although I consider it being fully immersed.

Remember I'll turn 48 in less than a month, and it took me almost a full decade to ward off the demons to reach this level. And of course you still see me fall from time to time.

It's s journey of self-discovery, and there's certainly no shame for those who give it their all and don't make it ... they're likely better in so many other endeavors.

I just wanted to make sure I gave it my all before quitting for good (I'd backed off several times but kept coming back).

I don't like to lose, and I don't like to give up.

It is truly through the grace of God that I am still here trading and encouraging others.

Not sure that helps, but hang in there ... regardless of where your journey goes.


Don Miller said...

Hi Scott -

No real system per se, although I think scanning the blog (which is now "thicker" than many books on the market) will give you a pretty good idea of the way I look at the market, indicators, beliefs, etc.


E-Mini Player said...

Nicely done! There was definitely a lot of opportunity today. The TICK gave some early warning signals to price bottoming in the low to mid 750s.

Wish I could be at the NY expo, but I'll be here in the windy city. Watch out for the 'gurus' at the expo; I'm sure they're not too happy with you right now :D Have a nice weekend!

Don Miller said...

E-Mini -

I'll be careful to watch where I step :-).


Derek said...

Hi Don -

glad to hear you and your wife will get to a little impromptu getaway this weekend ... even if it ends up trading-centric :D

it is good to hear that the current consensus is that the Trader Tax has no chance, but i'm more concerned about the general theme of the proposal. it just seems too easy for them to bow out on this one, only to turn around and try to pull off the same net effect via some other bill or bills. via all the usual media outlets, the government is telling the nation 'Wall Street did this to you. Traders did this to you.' it doesn't take much straining to hear the public start grumbling to themselves, 'Yeah, Wall Street did this to me. Traders did this to me', and supporting this cause.

i'm not trying to Chicken Little this thing, but i do think it should serve as a very informative wake up call for all traders as to the vibe on the Hill and on Main Street regarding our pursuits.

** steps down from the soapbox **

hope you and your wife have a great time this weekend and that you get the answers you are looking for. you know we'll be checking in to read the skinny :-)

as always, thx for everything and take care -


Unknown said...

Thank you Don,

I really appreciate your thoughtful response. It really hits home and comes at just the right time.

Have a great time down there.

Mike Preston

Don Miller said...

Mike -

The toughest time I ever had as a trader was when I had young kids ... very tough to focus.

Take the weekend to relax and hug your kids.


Being said...


Though I've only recently discovered your blog, I've read a lot of it, and really appreciate your candor, the time you put in to writing and answering questions.

It would be the most awesome gift if one day, you turned the video on your trading screen and recorded a good trade or two, along with your commentary as your trade management unfolded, all the way through exit. If a picture's worth a thousand words, then a video must be ten thousand.

Very contented happy reader as is, but hey, if one doesn't voice one's dreams, less likely they'll happen, yes ?

best regards,


Get In Get Out said...


I can relate 100%+ plus some. You must have gone through some heavy emotional, tough & Rough,Depressing,& Heart wrenching decisions to sell your large executive dream home to put up capital to fund your trading career. My trading journey experience at 26 was graduating college with 50K in student loans, Not knowing what I wanted to do, SO I was a golf caddie for 9 years,All the rich successful guys I would caddie for would trade futures,Nat gas,crude oil spreads,e.t.c. SO I saved up 30K to start trading and lost it all in a miniscule 6 weeks, borrowed an additional $7500 cash advance on my credit card, got flushed out again in 3 weeks, defaulted on my credit cards and student loan payments....Through a burning passion to succeed, perservered, Found Your Blog and Taking it "1" day at a time while I continue my journey & burning desire to succeed and move out of my parents basement one of these days as I turn 27 in a few months. I wouldnt want to do anything else as I think I have found my niche. 1 more season at the golf course to clear my head & start again next fall as I use the Simulator to train!! I think it was a God-Send to stumble & trip over finding your blog. It totally gave me a 100% different outlook on trading. Now it is all about the simulator to turn consistent before I start again.

Get In Get Out said...


For your Sony Vaio Tx, you might want to consider getting the 7-Hour extended battery on ebay or at the really cool Sony Style Sony Plaza Building while you are in NYC if you need a break from the expo and want to walk around the beautiful city
Store address:
550 Madison Avenue
New York,NY 10022
Phone (212)833-8800

If you want to take your wife out to a really nice restaurant with great food, ultra-luxury nice scene check out this place called buddha bar. Experience is pricesless. Great food too! You can check out their website 2nd link Hope you have a great weekend!

Don Miller said...

Thanks GIGO.

It's been a while since we've been to my wife's favorite city. She's going to see The Lion King on Saturday while I meet with a few acquaintances at the Expo (I'll be the guy wearing a funny nose and glasses) and we'll reconnect this evening for dinner and another show.

Yea, good info on the Vaio battery ... I'd been meaning to do just that and keep forgetting. I'll order one today. I also FORGOT that Amtrak has AC outlets until I got off the train ... DUHH.

Great train ride from Providence though, and we upgraded to a corner room in the Marquis when we got here ... although a bit pricey at $300/night :-(.


Unknown said...


You mention that you spoke very publicly in the early 90's about the challenges you faced.. Are these talks documented on the internet anywhere? I'd love to read them, but can't find them.


Mike Preston

heywally said...

"Word around here is that this thing has ZERO chance of getting through. Nobody is worried about this at all."

This is probably true but I think it's important for people to voice their displeasure to politicians so that the bill is less likely to be re-introduced anytime soon.

re trading (until things stop getting worse with the job and housing markets) - I am constantly working on my day-trading stock index futures skills but am currently focusing only on buying small quantities of the ES/NQ's after big sell-offs and waiting for the pop back up to flip them for gains (managing risk with very small position sizing and extreme selectivity/patience). For day-trading, I am focusing on buying pullbacks of recently strong individual stocks that are currently perceived as being relatively 'safe' (managing that risk with stops just below obvious support levels).

Don Miller said...

Mike -

I checked around, and while there are a few references in the old interviews in the bottom left hand margin links, much of it was via live speeches.

I'm still looking to get an in-person weekend day set up for the Boston group where we can talk about it at length if that's something people would be interested in, as well as resurrecting the PalTalk sessions.


E said...

"Immersed" is a great choice of words. No one ever climbs a mountain with no energy.

I love the expo but couldn't make it as family stuff came at an inopportune weekend. Taking a raincheck for drinks in Boston.

Just having one place with all that activity going on keeps you up to date with what's going on in the biz.

Maybe a few of you attendees can post a few worthwhile ideas to check out(and ones to stay away from.

Great variety of comments in your blog/followers Don.

Have a great weekend all.