May 22, 2018


22nd May 2018 – Trump, Iran & Europe


Hello Traders,

It’s been an interesting 2018 so far. There are many themes emerging, all of them fascinating.

Last week I was on Core Finance London giving my views on the world. As always it’s tough to get across in 8 minutes your entire view so I figured that I’d expand on it here.

It was titled “Now is the winter of our discontent…” which many of my readers, far better educated than I, will know is a phrase from Shakespeare’s play ‘Richard III’.

I started with it because a) we have had a long winter this year (which we’ve all been fed-up of) but also on another level there has been a winter-of-discontent over the last 16-18 months since Trump got elected.  I’m no real fan of the man, but as a Trader I like to look at trends and track-record, and his has been pretty eventful over the last 12 months or so. Lets take a look:

20180516 interesting 12 months slide

  1. Saudi Arabian soft coup – the new Crown Prince MBS has come in and cleaned house, in effectively a soft coup. Whilst Trump cant really take any shine for that – I am sure MBS will have not acted without clearance from Trump. Trump and the Saudis go way back.
  2. North Korea – we have seen the beginnings of reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, and a de-escalation of the nuclear threat. Who would have guessed that 18 months ago?
  3. Iraq – in recent parliamentary elections we have seen Moqtada Sadr’s party win. Now he is anti-US, but more importantly (for this piece) he’s also anti-Iranian. For years the Iranian influence has destabilised Iraq – this is another example of Iranian influence being rolled back in the ME.
  4. Trump walks away from Iran Nuclear Deal – in the last two weeks Trump declared that he was pulling the plug on Obama’s Nuclear deal with Iran.
  5. Israel – after the Trump announcement, along with Israel’s Netayahu’s public disclosure of Iran’s continuation of their secret nuclear weapons progress in Iran and Syria we saw the IDF attacking targets in Syria. (And probably trialling their new F-35 Lightning jets)

So it has been an extraordinary 12 months or so. Personally I think Trump was right to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. Furthermore I believe that when the truth emerges about what went down as part of that deal we will see a domestic backlash in the US & Europe (and perhaps around the world) towards certain people, administrations and organisations that were complicit in it. There we may see a summer of discontent as well….

There has already been an MSM/Usual Suspects backlash against Trump for pulling out on the deal. But you have to wonder why they’re agonising about it so much. The one who shouts the loudest normally has the most to hide?

Which bring me onto what got me interested in this line of inquiry.. It was a tweet from one of the mullah’s senior advisors, in the top left of the slide below.

20180516 europe stuck between iran and a hard place

To me that was fascinating – and just confirms my earlier belief that the Iran deal was a dirty deal and that there’s clearly been more going on there than meets the eye.  If the Iranians are planning to release the names of people and organisations that received money from the deal then that starts to make the actions of some other people a bit dubious. Who was it that benefitted financially from the Iran deal – as always, follow the money.

I found it interesting that in the week before Trump announced his decision he had visits from President Macron, Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson all apparently to pressure Trump to stick with the deal.  When he did not bow to their pressure their immediate response was to rally together and make statements about how they would continue to underpin the deal. Why? In a word: money. As part of the Iran deal certain sanctions were lifted. German now does $4bn of business with Iran. France & the UK also have business interests. In total the EU now does approx. $25bn of business with Iran. They don’t want to (or are unable to) give that up should Trump re-impose sanctions on Iran, and organisations doing business in Iran.

However will they really jeopardise the $755bn of business that they do with the US for $25bn of business with Iran? I cant see it happening. The EU will huff and puff, and as usual, do nothing.

So lets bring this back to trading – it happens ever-so rarely but occasionally I experience a moment of clarity about a trade. a situation or a possible outcome. I had one such recently after the Trump deal. Namely that if there was going to be revelations of impropriety from western politicians and organisation regarding the Iran deal then perhaps we’ll see it start to taint Deutsche Bank.  DO i have some wonderful insight or fantastic fundamental knowledge that would allow me to make such a call. No, I cant say I have. It would just appear to me that DB. have had a great run of being on the wrong side of the market, the theme, or the law – so why would this be any different?

20180516 paul deustche bank shocka

I had a nice dose of confirmation bias when a few days later Steve Eisman of The Big Short fame came out and said to short DB. (He also said to short Crypto currencies but that’s a different theme for a different day.)  I think his view was more fundamental based rather than geo-political fall-out however I’m happy to be on the same side as him.

I see that since I was on TV that DB has dropped another Euro and is presently trading around E12.71. If you look at the latest chart – its makes for sobering viewing.

20180522 deustche bank

Will they go the way of recent banking scandals concerning Standard Chartered and HSBC over the last 10 years regarding money laundering and hiding transactions with Iran?

The other company I named was French Petroleum company Total – after the initial sanctions were lifted by Obama Total were the company that raced into help with Iranian oil & gas production. They have enjoyed this success the last few years. However with the change in landscape what do it hold in store for them?

20180522 total

So the weekly chart there doesn’t look too bad does it? Price has rallied back up to recent resistance around the E54 price. However is that because all Oil& Gas companies are riding the back of the resurgent Oil price?  Interestingly a few hours after my TV piece Total made this declaration:

total bbc news piece

So what do I think will happen?

  • Iran – in the same way that North Korea has been offered a route back into polite global society I suspect the same will happen for Iran – especially if, as we are seeing the demonstrations and strike by the ordinary people of Iran will continue to increase. (You can follow @HeshmatAlavi on twitter for fascinating insight into Iran.)  I think the mullahs must be worried. If there is change of leadership in Iran then we may see that have a knock on effect to all the countries/organisations that Iran currently supports (Hizbollah, Hamas, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian state, Yemen, and probably others)
  • Israel – will Trump leave Israel for last, and then help make changes there that allow a broader peace to be achieved in that region? Discuss.
  • Russia, Turkey & Syria – what will happen here? I believe that an accommodation will happen with Russia in Syria. The war will end and Assad will be either protected (by Russia) or pushed out the door. I suspect that Erdogan will be seen for what he is – namely a blowhard, and that Turkey will be given an opportunity to right itself, or face pressure from US & Russia.
  • Oil Price – Oil has been a great trade this year as price from down in the mid-50’s towards 70-80 USD.  I believe a good part of that has been down to resurgent demand from emerging markets. However part of that is also because of the threat of war in the Middle East due to recent tensions in Syria, Palestine & Iran. Also the threat of renewed sanctions against Iran What if there was a change of sentiment in the Middle-East? What if Iran did change it’s tack and came in from the cold. What if we had peace (of a sort)rather than the threat of war. What impact would that have on the Oil price. Personally I think it would depress it on a longer term basis. Peace is not good for Oil Prices (generally.)
  • Blowback – I think the blowback from the details of the Iran Deal will have repercussions in the West – which you are yet to truly understand or see. That may have huge implications on foreign and domestic policy in the US & Europe. Furthermore may lead to domestic unrest in parts of the West.
  • China – There has been tensions about a trade war with China (which I have worried myself about in the past.) However the latest comments from US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin at the weekend was that the Trade War/ Sanctions were “on hold” – what if Trump managed to negotiate a good trade deal that allowed peace on the Korean peninsula, whilst tempering China’s anxieties about it, and helping improve trade between the two countries?  Is that possible?
  • US Indices – based on the comments above we saw a little positive bump in US Indices this week as possibilities of a trade war lessened. Its of interest to me that the Russell has been hitting all tie new highs whilst the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ all lag. What can we make of that?

So sorry I have rambled on here, as per normal I hear my regular reader say, but the end-point is that whilst I may not be a real of Trump the reality is that he’s helping to shift and re-shape parts of the world that would have been inconceivable less that 18months ago. I feel that if he can bring Iran in from the cold with a change of leadership then he will have earned that Peace prize. Whatever you may think of him as a person, his track-record is starting to be built. And as a trader we know that track-record is king. And if we have a peace in Middle-East & Korea, what opportunities will that open up for people, capital and markets? It could be the start of a truly fascinating period in the world. Or am I just deluding myself with sappy, wishful thinking? I’m more than happy to hear my readers alternate view on the world.

Trade well,



As mentioned above its been confirmed that the Israeli AF have been using their brand-new F-35’s for recent strikes. (I’ll bet that the US and other F-35 allies have been keen to see how their new toy worked.)

Some interesting insights/comparisons into Iran & North Korea

As for Deustche Bank – clearly all is not well!


April 4, 2018


An unexpected pleasure at the Tate Liverpool


Hello Traders,

Yeah I know I haven’t posted as much as I normally do – shock horror – I’ve been busy trading these glorious markets.

However now and then I do get away from the desk and indulge in normal people’s behaviour. And so last Thursday I found myself in Liverpool for the day and decided to visit the Tate Liverpool Art Gallery in the Albert Docks. Now I have an admission: I am quite the ignorant, Neanderthal, philistine ( I suspect most of my readers had already worked that out.) I find most modern art a bit self-indulgent, in the same vein as jazz, namely more likely to be enjoyed by the artist than the viewer. That’s not to say there aren’t some stunning, spectacular, moving, thought-provoking pieces – it’s just that I end up shaking my head and shrugging my shoulders at a lot of it thinking to myself, “How many drugs did the artist have to take to think that would be a good idea?” 

My view was only hardened after I walked into one side-room to find a arty film showing a grown mature man, dressed as a baby, hitting himself with toys in what looked like a child’s bedroom. I was told that this was art. Personally I thought it was a big bag of tosh – from a clearly disturbed man – and walked away muttering under my breath that it’s no surprise that the art world is full of sex-abusers and paedophiles. Anyway I digress.

The reason I chose to pop in was because I was intrigued to see that there was a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition on, and one of his famous pieces was there (see below).

The piece is called “Whaam!” its from 1963 and depicts aerial combat in pop-art form. I have it as a fridge magnet (see I told you I was a philistine)What can I say? The former Air Defender in me is still alive and well and takes pleasure in scenes of aircraft getting shot down! (As an aside I learnt that Lichtenstein served in the US Army during the Second World War and in particular focused on anti-aircraft drills and operations and lots of his early work consisted of drawings of aircraft – so maybe he too derived pleasure from scenes of aerial combat?)

However I was pleasantly surprised to find the piece below – and I would love to have it on my office wall! It’s by Andrew Gursky and is a double exposed photo of the trading floor at the Chicago Board Of Trade from 1999. I thought it was fantastic and ended up having to explain to my date and several others what it was representing. It’s a huge piece and sadly my photo doesn’t do it justice.

I loved it so much that I went to the shop and tried to buy a copy (see, even Philistines can support the arts, now and then.) Sadly they had none. Boo.

In a weird world of coincidence just a couple of days later I got a text from my friend and colleague Malte Kaub (Twitter: @SE_1Trading) who sent me a similar photo. It turns out that Gursky has an exhibition on at the Haywards Gallery in the Southbank Centre until 22nd April. It’s not free but if you’re a trader then maybe pop along and see his work – I loved the photo – I now have visions of a large copy of it filling the wall of my trading office. To many people looking at it would give them a headache. To me, it’s just a great insight into the frenzy of a world no longer with us.

Even cooler was when I tweeted the photo a guy on twitter actually spotted himself in the photo. How cool is that?

gursky photo tweet

Here’s an interesting aside for the traders within us. I was today interviewing a former trader who started up as a floor trader on Liffe and then made the transition across to electronic trading. I asked him about how the transition went – he said it was extremely hard, and most floor traders did not make the transition. We talked about it and came to the conclusion that in the old days you saw your enemy – he was the guy on the other side of the pit – you could see the whites of his eyes, and get a picture of whether he was confident or sweating about his position. That was an edge. Whereas when you look at a screen you don’t get the same sense of the other participants sentiment. It may explain why there is an increased interest in trading psychology / performance coaching within the electronic trading community. Instead of taking cues from the guys around you, now the only feedback you get is from yourself – and so you need to know how you think, operate and behave far more intimately than ever before. Food for thought? (Be sure to disagree with me if you think so – I’ll happily listen to opposing views.)

Anyway I’ll finish up with a joke about artists from my good Irish trading pal Ian.

“Why do artists always look happy?”

“Because they get to party on other peoples money!”


andreas Gursky cbot trading floor

March 8, 2018


VTP Stage 2: Swing and longer term trading of FX, Indices & Commodities markets – March 2018

Fellow Traders,

I’ll be running a VTP Stage 2 workshop in London on Thursday & Friday March 22/23rd, with a follow-up day on Friday 18th May. I run this once a year.

This will focus on swing and longer term trading of FX, Indices & Commodities markets (FXIC) This may be of more interest to you if you already have some trading experience. As usual there’ll be a mixture of topics covering the 4M’s of Trading: Markets, Methods, Money & Myself.

It will cover:

  • How to trade using Monthly, Weekly, Daily & 4 Hour charts for swing and longer term positions.
  • Understanding Strength & Weakness within markets and how to use it to your advantage
  • Understanding Strategy, Tactics & Mechanics
  • Developing profitability from existing set-ups
  • Additional trade set-ups and tactics
  • How to manage your trade exposure
  • How to improve the reward to risk ratio for your trades
  • Understanding the true importance of Money Management and Position Sizing
  • Building your own longer term trading plan
  • Developing your own trading business


This will be run over 3 days. The two days in March will focus on trend-following. The day in May will focus on trading reversals. The aim is to develop competency at building a picture, selecting the right instruments, trade management and improving profitability.

It’s run on a small-scale basis. There are presently only 5 slots left. It’s nice to be able to say that on International Womens Day presently 80% of the sign-ups have been female. The cost for the 3 days is £447. This also includes an MT4 Dashboard plug-in to help with trade decisions. It’s on a first-come-first-served basis with Veterans taking the priority for slots.

If you’re interested then reply to this or drop me a line at

Trade well,



January 12, 2018


My rambling review of 2017 (mostly my screw-ups)


“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention…” so sang the late great Frank Sinatra. Whilst an undoubtedly great song I have always struggled with that line. You see I’ve never understood people who say “I have no regrets….” for when I look back at my life I have plenty of regrets. That’s not to imply I’m unhappy, or ungrateful, or that I’m seething with resentment, for I am not. I just know that there’s lots of things that if I had the chance again I would do differently. I’m well aware that I cannot change the past, just my attitude towards it, and that what’s done is done. Perhaps it’s just my perfectionist streak that doesn’t let up on me about past mistakes. Always driving me on to learn from them and improve against a bar/standard that I’ll never achieve. Make of that what you will. Which leads us onto this blog piece and the review of my own year.

Welcome to 2018 traders – I hope you enjoyed the break and that you’re ready for an interesting year ahead.

As for myself I closed down shop over the Christmas period. Apart from an occasional glance at a chart of Ripple I stayed away from all markets and trading. For me, it was the right choice.

As part of my downtime I like to conduct a review not only of my data but also of my behaviour and my decisions, along with planning my year ahead. This blog post is part of that. I apologise for the length and the rambling nature of it. You don’t actually have to read this yourselves if you don’t want to – it’s more a missive to myself about mistakes I made and lessons to learn (or even re-learn). Perhaps some of it will resonate with your own experience, perhaps some of it will make no sense, perhaps some of it will offend you – I can’t control how people interpret my words so I don’t bother trying. It is what it is.

I’m always happy to talk about my mistakes, misses, the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. I figure people can learn more from my mistakes than my successes. Furthermore it shows that none of us are exempt from the human condition or perfect in our trading.  None of us are beyond reproach – we are all striving, and evolving, towards being the best trader that we can be.

So lets see what shall I start with? How about the markets and the correction that never came.

What, no crash? I wrote 2 blog pieces at the start of summer about how I sensed that we may have reached the highs and be due a healthy correction, if not a crash. The summer came, and went, and so did my plan. I was wrong. Dead wrong. Completely wrong. For which I apologise.  Markets looked like they may roll-over but in reality they just took a breather before resuming their upwards, unstoppable momentum. Even though I had a suspicion that markets may roll over that was not an indication to sell everything but I did have a few short trades on the NASDAQ which were profitable but never truly followed through.  I remember reading an interview with (I believe) Stanley Druckenmiller  who talked about how when he worked for Soros that if George wanted to short a market the first thing he would do…is buy it. If it kept going up then it was not ready to roll-over and he would stay away. Wise advice – if you can afford it. And it’s exactly what I should have done. When my NASDAQ shorts ran out of energy that was my first warning sign. The next was once price had traded back up to previous highs, and then broke them, I should have bought the market. That was remiss of me. The market is always communicating to us – it had told me that it wasn’t ready to go down, it wanted to carry on up…..and I did not leverage that information accordingly. Shame on you Paul.

Lesson for Paul:  I’m actually coming round to the idea that we’ll continue grinding north – which was helped by some excellent insight from a client – experienced traders are fearful, they’re like a cat on a hot tin roof, but that’s rarely when crashes happen. They happen when fear has left the market and everyone is complacent – and we’re not at that point yet. So we grind north, we maybe have a good melt-up, and then it all goes ‘Pete Tong’ – but that could be 6-18 months in the future. For the moment you have to trade what you see – and markets have been continuing North. I’m always reminded of this quote:

“Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince told the Financial Times in July 2007: “When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.”

You can have all the opinions you want Paul….but the music is still playing.

(He actually said this in Nov 2007 when people may suggest that the music had already stopped playing. If it had not stopped, the markets were certainly at that quarter-to-2 in the Disco time when you did a quick prowl of the dance floor to pull a girl for the last dance. I believe they call it ‘bin-raking’ these days. Charming. You get what I mean. The end was nigh.)

Crypto – Too late to the party. Simple as that. I had always treated it as a bit of a fad. I also think it’s a culture / generational thing. I remember very clearly the Dot-Com bubble. There are many differences (for me at least). During all the dot-com hype I could actually see and understand the implications of the new companies and technologies. A company that you could buy pretty much any book in the world at cheaper prices than the book store and have it delivered? Yes, I’ll have a bit of Amazon thank-you. Having all your Music downloaded into one cool looking gadget the size of a cigarette packet? Yes, I’ll have some Apple. Being able to buy your Waitrose Groceries online and have them delivered? Yes, I’ll have a bit of Occado thank-you. Even Lastminute.Com (the straw that broke the camels back) I could understand that here was a website that offered a one-stop shop for all your last minute holiday getaways.  Furthermore the Tech companies that underpinned the internet infrastructure I could understand (which was a good job as I was working in Telco and Internet Tech at the time.)

Whereas Bitcoin seemed a bit of a fad for me. And my experiences just reinforced that. Last summer I was in a coffee shop in Ballsbridge, South Dublin minding my own business reading the FT when the guy at the table next to me started blathering on at me about how he was the ‘chief imagineer’ (no, I have no idea what one of those is either) for the HSE (the Irish equivalent of the NHS) and that he was asking would I invest in his idea for a ‘health bitcoin’ where people’s health records would be allocated bitcoin and the more healthy your lifestyle was the more of these coins you’d be allocated.  I couldn’t help but think that this guy’s time and effort would be better spent sorting out the present-day HSE (which in many cases is in a worse state than the NHS) rather than being paid top dollar to think up hare-brained ideas like that.

Another example was just before Christmas we had an electrician in to fix some lights and he was telling me about his Bitcoin holdings. Now fair play to him, he’d bought in at approx. $300 so when the price was hitting 15-16,000 USD just before Christmas he was cock-a-hoop with excitement. I am chuffed that he has made money – but when your electrician is giving you investment advice an old cynic like me starts to get a bit grizzly.

My grizzliness was extended by not backing myself on Ripple / XRP earlier. I had monitored it for the last 2-3 months but it had already sailed past my ideal entry point. I was forced to join the party at 25 cents..only for it to have gone past 48 cents by the time I bought. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.  It is what it is.

So I do have some Crypto exposure, but no-where near as much as I would have liked. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Furthermore in the interests of full disclosure I have not made much personal gain from my Crypto holdings. However, my 8 nieces, nephews and god-children on the other hand have done very well. The Jammy Bastards. (When I was a kid I used to be happy if I got a Subbuteo set and a model Spitfire! Times have changed.)

Lesson for Paul: Overcome your own bias and get back to being an early adopter. My experience of the Dot-Com boom (even though I did well out of it) had made me overly cautious. There’s money to be made in the run-up, the inevitable crash, and the aftermath if you plan it right.

2018 FX – Normally at the end of each year I have an idea about where my focus should be in terms of a particular FX pair for Q1-2 of the next year. There’s normally one FX pair that stands out as a ripe target for my focus. Last year was USD – and the price action in January just confirmed that. For the first time in a good few years I have no particular bias for any particular FX pair going into this year. I shall wait and see what the markets offer up.

Lesson for Paul: Watch and Shoot – watch and shoot! The Comdolls have started well so far this year.

Intra-day trading. I used to do it a lot. Then, not so much. Over the last 2 years I have done a little bit but on a purely opportunistic basis i.e. if i was at my desk for a few days then I’d look at what was available.  And in the second half of 2017 I found myself returning to it. Partly because of market conditions but also partly because my schedule allowed me to structure my time better to focus upon it.  Furthermore I found myself re-visiting the 1 minute chart – in particular on the DAX. (Most of my previous intraday trades were made on 15 & 5 min charts).

I have avoided the 1 minute for a long time. Some of you may know why. When I first started trading FX many years ago my mentor encouraged me to trade 1 minute charts. It turned out at the time that I was not very good at it. Why? Firstly I found that it tapped into the hyper-aggressive side of me. It brought out my killer instinct, and not always in a good way. Secondly I found the 1 minute charts were too slow for me. How so? When I sat down and reflected upon it I realised that when I’d been a Fighter Controller I used to watch radar screens update 6 times a minute. So every 10 seconds I would have a new picture and need to make a decision: climb, descend, turn, accelerate, interrogate, engage etc. So waiting 60 seconds for a candle to complete seemed like an absolute life-time. So on one hand I had hyper-aggressiveness rearing its head (the part of Paul that wants to kill everything) and on the other hand I was applying the brakes as I waited for the chart to update. This meant i was getting into trades too soon, and also getting out of them too quickly, if it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do swiftly then I’d pull the plug on the trade, and was therefore cutting myself off from profits and opportunity. So I decided to give 1 minute charts a miss many years ago.

However recently I had noticed that a lot of my intra-day trades upon reflection were offering earlier opportunities to get on board at better prices thereby reducing my trade risk, and offering a more handsome reward-to-risk potential (see later point below). So I decided to investigate, learn some new ideas and concepts, and see if they could be applied to my intra-day trading. Furthermore I’m a slow old duffer these days, with far more patience and less desire to shoot everything down in front of me (though that desire never really fully leaves you)so trading 1 minute charts doesn’t create the problems it used to.

Lesson for Paul: Get in the fight and start attacking the charts – (ok, maybe that hyper-aggressiveness is returning) anyway there are some great opportunities out there. I have a good trade plan, some great set-ups and the ability to deliver.

Risk-to-Reward Ratio (3R) I had noticed that my risk-to-reward- ratio had diminished over the last 18 months. It was still healthy, and still on the happy side of asymmetric, but no-where near as good as it used to be. Why was that? Is it a case of lack of volatility? Perhaps.

Upon some reflection I realised that I have spent too much time around new traders who are too scared to go for anything more than small gains – those who jump out of a trade after its hit 1:1. I have allowed this to influence my thinking – shame on me!

Lesson for Paul: Push myself to get back to bigger asymmetric reward-to-risk ratios

I’m still shit at trading Swiss Franc: I don’t know why this is – but historically I always have my worst performance on the CHF pairs – why is that? I have no idea. Bunch of cuckoo-clock making, toblerone eating chumps, pissing around with their multi-use (and admittedly very handy) knives

Lesson for Paul: Keep CHF pairs exposure very small. No-one trusts the SNB.

I don’t take enough holidays: that’s just a lesson I’ve realised this last 24 months. There have been some extenuating circumstances with family members health, however I don’t take enough holidays. I take lots of long weekends, and have always worked on the premise that a change is as good as a rest. So spending time in Cheshire, Dublin, London and elsewhere is refreshing for me – and I enjoy being around other traders.  What I realised is that at my age all my friends and relatives are married with kids. They’re going on holiday with their families (even though they’d secretly love to go to the Buenos Aires Rugby 7’s instead) 😉  I get bored with going on holiday on my own – I just end up doing some work…..or getting in trouble. Which tends to be why I avoid holiday invites from other traders – there’s no escape. Anyway I need to get over that and sort out something.

(Also I have a real wanderlust and I’m secretly scared that if I go walkabout….I’ll just never come back! This probably explains why I have resisted buying motorbikes or VW Camper Vans – you’ll never see me again – I’ll just put a satcom on the top of the Van to give me good connectivity and then clear off to the Algarve driving around surf beaches, learning to surf, and spending my nights reading great literature, drinking Port and eating cheese. And then when I’m bored I’ll just drive down through Africa to Cape Town and go surfing there. Actually, upon reflection, this sounds fucking brilliant. It’s a plan. Sign me up.)

Lesson for Paul: book some holidays. Get your girlfriends involved to plan holiday time away from work / markets etc. Get a life you saddo.

Recency Bias, and anchoring effect: For those unaware Recency bias is the tendency to think that trends and patterns we observe in the recent past will continue in the future. (Wikipedia)

As for anchoring its a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered when making decisions. Once an anchor is set, other judgments are made by adjusting away from that anchor, and there is a bias toward interpreting other information around the anchor. (Wikipedia)

We all experience them but I have noticed that I have a real challenge with it.  Maybe its a new thing, or maybe its something I always had but have just raised my awareness of it recently. I’ve noticed them in both my trading and my personal life (particularly with buying/renting a place in South Dublin – but that’s another story. I realise that the trader in me only wants to buy at my price – not at what the market is demanding from me – because I believe it be overvalued. I am anchored to prices from 2012 when I first moved there and looking at the recent patterns of rising prices (for rental and purchase) leaves me feeling like I’m buying into a parabolic move and that I am chasing price – something I religiously refuse to do in my trading.) I’ve fallen prey to one of the oldest tricks in the book. Shame on you Paul!

Lesson for Paul: Learn from this raised awareness. Those two biases rarely help you. Put up or shut-up. Preferably both.

Trading Challenge: I have decided based on the points above to give myself a trading challenge. I often talk to intra-day traders about how in an ideal world you should be trading the Triple Three: Three hours a day, Three days a week for Three weeks a month, otherwise it becomes very easy to burn out as an intra-day trader. Based on the lessons learnt above I decided to do my own version of this from the end of January. Regardless of my other trading activities I will prioritise my own Triple Three challenge: Three hours a day of intra-day trading, Three days a week, for Three ‘R’ a session. This will either go spectacularly well…or horrifically wrong. We shall wait and see.

There you go – if you’ve made it this far and haven’t cut your own wrists then you deserve a big strong glass of whisky! (I did say you didn’t have to read it – its more a note to myself than anything else.)

I’m sure you have your own views on my failings this year – feel free to present your own thoughts, or your own learning points – we can all benefit from them.

Regardless I wish you all the very best of success in your trading endeavours.

Trade well!


November 23, 2017


Join the VTP and evolve into a Versatile Trader in 2018

Hello traders,
I hope life and the markets are treating you all well.

I am setting my schedule for the VTP trading sessions for next year. As my diary gets compressed I am looking to deliver the various stages in 2 day blocks (apart from Stage 2 which is 3 Day) with follow-up online sessions. This also makes it easier for the attendees to manage their diary.

The VTP was originally set-up to help give Veterans an insight into trading financial markets using three principles that they naturally embrace:

– Discipline
– Self-Awareness

It just so happens that those very same traits are also seen in consistently successful traders. All traders can improve by embracing these traits into their trading. As the project has evolved it’s now my intention to create ‘Versatile Traders’ which I define simply as being versatile enough to know how to trade any instrument, in any direction, on any time-frame. Personally I think the days of someone just being a 5 min EURUSD trader are long gone – a good trader now needs to be able to operate where the best opportunity lies. That could be FX, Indices, Stocks, Commodities or Crypto.

So with that in mind here are the dates for the VTP Stages 1-4 for 2018. They are delivered in a small group between 8-15. If you want to join a particular stage or to know more then drop me a line.

Stage 1: Introduction to trading and financial markets – 18th & 19th January, London: LTN cost:£297
This is the ideal stand-alone introductory course to trading and financial markets. Over several sessions it provides the building blocks to be able to educate a new trader how to operate safely and effectively within financial markets. By the end of the stage the new trader will understand the 4M’s of Trading: Markets, Methods, Money & Myself. They also develop those three key traits mentioned at the beginning: Process, Discipline & Self-Awareness.
There is no requirement to take any further stages – this is a stand-alone stage that will provide anyone with the fundamental basics of successful trading.
Stage 2: An introduction to longer-term trading of FX, Indices and Commodities Markets – 22nd & 23rd March, plus Friday 18th May: LTN cost £397
Leading on from Stage 1, here we focus on longer term trading of FX, Indices and Commodity markets in-line with how I trade myself and for funds. We provide deeper insight into these markets and additional tactics to help build your own successful longer-term trading business.
Stage 3: An introduction to short-term, intra-day trading of FX & Indices markets – 19th & 20th July, London: LTN Cost: £397
As the name implies we focus on how to trade FX, European and US Indices from an intra-day basis. Sessions will be based on preparing for your day of intra-day trading of these markets and how to adapt the strategies, tactics and concepts from earlier Stages for intra-day success.
Stage 4: On Managing Myself, Trader Performance and becoming a Money Manager – 22nd & 23rd November, London : LTN Cost: £397
This stage is split into 2 sections: Half on managing self and the other half on managing money – namely other peoples. You may or may not have dreams of becoming a money-manager however acting as if you are a fund manager is never a bad thing in your own trading business. This whole stage will be focused on what you need to do to build your own trading business that will put you in the right space to be able to seek funding (if that is your wish).

In total it will equate to about 72 hours of us working together over the course of the year. As always there is a cost involved. I am fortunate that I am allowed to use a corporate clients location so that enables me to keep costs to an acceptable level.

Stage 1 has always cost £297. The other stages normally cost £447 but for today if you wish to join one of the stages the cost is £397.

In total to attend all parts of the VTP next year would cost £1488. However for the early birds that cost is reduced to £1200. There will only be 12 slots free so it’ll be on a first-come, first-served basis, veterans get priority.

I wish you every success in your trading for 2018. Trade well!


November 10, 2017


10th Nov 2017 – A follow-up to ‘McWilliams Ireland’ show. My thoughts on the rising cost of living in Ireland.

Last night in Ireland on channel TV3 there was a TV show called ‘McWilliams Ireland’ driven by the Irish media personality, and occasional economist, David McWilliams (that was my Irish mate’s joke) which is a series looking at modern Ireland through the lens of an economist and the impact it has on everyday Irish folks.

If like me you spend a lot of time in Ireland for family, business and personal reasons you’ll be acutely aware of the rampant rise in prices over the last 2 years. House prices up by 60%, hotels up between 50 & 100% etc. The fall in GBP against the EURO has only made that pain more palpable for people coming from the UK. Because I travel so much between Ireland, the UK, and Europe I believe I’ve developed a good perspective on the situation.

David’s TV series has been focusing on the rising cost of living in Ireland and he’s to be congratulated in attempting to raise people’s awareness of the situation. It’s not always easy to garner the interest of the working man and woman – they’re usually to busy working hard to make ends meet. But overall David’s articles and TV shows do a good job of trying to educate the average man and woman on the situation – and he’s to be applauded for that.

I was in the audience for last nights show and found it fascinating that people had lots of complaints about costs, and lots of reasons why…..however no-one dared touch the one area I was hoping they would discuss / cover. Namely the staggering cost of public sector pay and pension liabilities. They didn’t touch upon it there, and I’m sure as an English guy there was no chance of them answering my points about it on the show (I can just see the response I’d have gotten trying to raise points on taxes and public sector liabilities – ‘who’s that fat English prick giving out to us? The cheek of him coming on here with his notions….’ )  So let me lay out my thoughts here. Read on McDuff. As Alan Partridge so ignorantly said “There’s more to Oireland…dan dis.”

Shall we start with a chart? I love a chart, me. (I am a primarily a technical trader after all).

Nov 2017 ISEQ Monthly

So you can see that the Irish stock exchange, the ISEQ, has been powering up since late 2012. In fact it’s more than doubled since late 2012 (the small blue line). What happened in late 2012 to turn around Ireland’s fortune? Simply put – that’s when I moved to Ireland. I like to tell people that it was my copious consumption of Irish carbohydrates, in the name of: Brennan’s Bread, Apple Pie, Guinness, and Potatoes (and that was just my standard breakfast) that singlehandedly dragged Ireland out of recession.

On a more serious note you can see that the Irish economy has done a grand job the last few years – which I have written about before – I always felt it was due to the recovery of the US and UK which lifted Ireland out of its post GFC gloom rather than anything that the Irish politician’s did.  There has been an influx of US, and global, tech companies that have located in Ireland. The official story is because of the quality of life and the availability of a well-educated workforce. The brutal reality is that the Irish government offered stunning tax deals, on an already attractive corporate tax rate – which has been good for Ireland, but has infuriated US and EU tax authorities. (The French in particular are disgusted that such companies are based in backwater Ireland when they should be based, and more importantly, paying taxes, in the glorious French republic.)

So with a healthy chart of the national exchange you’d be thinking that everything is rosy and there’s nothing wrong? Sadly that’s not the case. It is just under 10 years since the GFC of 2008 – and yet in Dublin at the moment you’d be mistaken for thinking it never happened – everyone is partying like its 2007! Prices are flying and the town has a buzz.

So let’s have a look at some of the numbers: My understanding is that the population of the Republic of Ireland is approximately 4.5 million people. Of that 4.5 million approximately 1.98 million people are tax-payers ( If anyone has more up-to-date / accurate figures I will happily amend.)

My own belief about the cost of living in Ireland is due to the high taxes pushed upon the people. Furthermore those high taxes, as I think most Irish folk would agree, do not always provide world-class services and infrastructure.

Well my belief is that most of those costs and taxes come about to fund the gravy-train that is the Irish Civil Service….or Irish Swindle Service as my Irish friends like to call it!

Once again numbers of Civil-Service employees are a spectrum with numbers ranging 40,000 to 300,00 mentioned to me. (These numbers are very broad and opaque, and may or may not cover all the Quango’s as well – of which there are numerous – i heard there was around 1000! Once again please feel free to help me tighten up the numbers.)

Take a look at some of these eye-watering numbers provided by the Central Statistics Office:

Irish Public Sector pay average: E921 p.w.

Irish Private Sector pay average E658 p.w.  (that’s a -40% differential!)

UK Public Sector pay: £594 p.w..

UK Private Sector pay £517 p.w. (that’s a -15% differential)

(Office of National Statistics)

But it gets worse:

Wages in the Irish education sector exceed Eurozone average by 54%

Wages in Irish healthcare and social work sector exceed the Eurozone average by 39%

(Eurostat figures)

Unemployment Benefit in Ireland: E193 per week

Unemployment Benefit in the UK approx £90 per week (My understanding is that Germanys is roughly similar – once again happy to update the numbers if someone has them.)

Furthermore if the public sector pay was not already a shocka they also receive a lovely golden pension of 150% of final salary, plus 50% for the rest of your life. Also you generally retire much earlier (age 60) on that handsome pension as opposed to private sector workers who have to toil on to age 66 to get the state minimum.

It used to be (certainly in the UK) in the old days that you received a good public sector pension because your average wage was much less than a private sector employee’s. But times have clearly changed, when a public sector employee is now taking home 40% more than the average private sector worker. Perhaps I can now see why friends call the Irish Swindle service the gravy-train!

You also have VAT at 23%, and business rates can be even higher. Along with that you have the most expensive energy charges in Europe. (If you can get a clear answer out of the ESB regarding charges, wages, pensions et al then you’re doing well.)

So you effectively have 80-90% of the people having to toil away till they’re 66, paying high taxes, in order to pay for the high wages/lifestyle/pensions of the 10-20% working in the civil service / quangos who get to retire at 60! Does it make my Irish friends feel good to hear and understand that?

Invariably as soon as someone like myself shines the torch of economic awareness on public sector greed you’re immediately labelled as a right-wing bigot who wants to take money away from Nurses, Firemen, and Gardaí (policemen). That is the usual tactic of those who wish the status-quo to resume.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  My mother was a nurse, I have friends and cousins who are nurses, Gardaí, firemen and teachers etc. Everyone knows that front-line staff do a good job under trying circumstances. It’s not them I am describing. I am talking about the huge swathe of faceless bureaucrats who sit in all those public offices working away without any form of accountability for their work ethic and performance.

So my aim with this piece was not to be disparaging – nor to have ” a crack at the Mick” as my good Irish friend Pearse and I often joke about. (It’s a line from one of our favourite films – Withnail & I. )

More so it was to make people aware of one of the contributing factors to why the cost of living is so high and there is such a high tax burden on the average working person. I’ve seen Irish friends working hard to build a life, and I’ve seen other people taking advantage of the system.  Maybe judging by this article the people are aware of the situation and all want a scoop of that gravy: 28,500 scramble for civil-service jobs

Now some people may say that they are happy with a) the tax levels and b) the public sector salaries and pensions. And that is fair enough. Each to their own.

At the TV show I was sat on a table with two other guys and when I pointed the public-sector pay and pension liabilities out the youngest one was quick to silence me with a monologue about how people should pay high taxes because it was a price worth paying for living in Ireland. I gently chided him that as he was a student he’d never actually paid any taxes, nor did he have a mortgage to pay, or kids to raise. Perhaps he should save his opinions until such time when he’s been paying exorbitant direct and indirect taxes for at least a decade or so and see how he feels then.

So why is this in any way a problem? Well I suppose it’s not – however Brexit is looming – and this will be either a threat or an opportunity for Ireland. Whilst the official Irish government departments are crowing about how much business and staff they will take from London the real story comes from listening to the relocation businesses. The questions they’re being asked are all how about house prices, location and availability, the cost of living, and the availability of good schools.  Is there a chance that Ireland is going to price itself out of the Brexit bonanza?

So why do people put up with this? Well I learnt from living there that you should never underestimate the power of ignorance. If you’re used to paying 4 euro for a shampoo, that is a pound in the UK, then why would you ever challenge the price? Is it any wonder that UK retailers call the country ‘Treasure Ireland’ because of their ability to charge higher prices?

I myself am an example of this. I left Ireland in 2016 for family responsibilities back in the UK. I was looking to move back this year – but the upsurge in costs (amongst other things) caused me to hesitate and reflect. I find these days that Dublin is more expensive than London. I can understand why so many digital nomads have shifted to Lisbon and Berlin instead of Dublin.

So will there be a change? Will Ireland curb its rampant tax take in order to help the average working guy and girl? Of course not!  The people who benefit most from the enhanced public sector pay and condition (namely the politicians) are never going to vote down giving themselves a pay cut! How absurd would that be? This comical skit from the show summed it all up beautifully in 70 seconds.

The Irish politicians already showed their true colours when the EU took Apple to court for not paying enough tax to Ireland – the Irish politicians response was to take Apple’s side(ostensibly turning down the 13bn tax for their own people) and in doing so found themselves sued by the EU for not complying.

Furthermore the French and Germans are keen to push through the EU the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) in an effort to level the playing field and remove Ireland’s tax advantage.  (As an aside if I was Theresa May I’d be on the phone to all those US tech companies saying – you can sidestep the incoming CCCTB by moving here – lets just organise a flat fee of 10% and take it from there. Hey, for the UK it’s better to have 10% of something rather than 100% of nothing!)

Anyway this is turning into another one of Paul’s old-man rants! Apologies for the sprawling treatise – but I do get annoyed when I see people getting screwed over! So we’ll draw it to a close here by saying that yes David’s show was a step towards educating folks (but didn’t go far enough about one of the main contributors to prices – as this reviewer also agreed) and that people’s ignorance of the situation regarding public sector pay and pension liabilities needs to be changed. That’s the only way change will happen – by people realising the truth of the situation and then voting accordingly (though what the alternatives are is another quagmire, best left for another day.)

I know I have quite a few Irish readers of this blog so I’d love to hear your own views on the situation. Do you agree with me? Or are you happy with the present situation? How would you change it?

Have a great weekend, and trade well!


——-UPDATE———— 20/11/2017

Last week I did a piece on Core TV about this blog post – you can watch it here: Core TV Ireland

On the same day the Irish Times ran a piece on how Dublin was graded 2nd worst European City to emigrate to in a recent survey by Expat City Rankings (the worst European City, if you’re interested, is Paris.) You can read that here: Irish Times

Furthermore I picked up on this piece this morning in the Irish Journal about how Dublin was an attractive option for Tech Job-seekers….but most recruiters had to play down the cost of living as that caused problems.


November 9, 2017


Confidence in execution: humility in the debrief. Syed article in the Times

Syed Times Post


Hello Traders,

It’s been a funny old year hasn’t it? I just looked back on my diary for the year. Normally I do no travelling during the months of August and October – I give them over to summer break/harvesting for the former, and trading for the latter. However this year, for the first time, I spent both of those months travelling for work/clients/opportunity. Can I read anything into that? Is that a sign of something to come? Who knows, time will tell. However it does give some insight into my lack of posts in the last 3 months.

Anyway back to todays theme – I was fortunate to read a fascinating article in the Times last week by the wonderful Matthew Syed: Why Johnny Wilkinson realised his potential and Danny Cipriani didn’t.

Matthew is a wonderful writer and manages to focus on some fascinating aspects of human behaviour, through the lens of sporting competition. However many of those lessons are applicable to all avenues of life, including trading. I heartily recommend you read his column.

So does greatness come from arrogance or humility? That is the question posed in his piece. He then begins to provide a fascinating series of insights and anecdtoes based on professional sportsmen, their own success and failures and whether they were attributed to confidence or humility. What we discover, quite rightly, is that there is a time and a place for both in the performance cycle.

What we learn is that confidence is required when looking to execute our plans – to have the self-belief to deliver in key moments. However what is also required is humility in the post event review to address our mistakes and weakness.

That confidence comes from preparation – being dedicated to putting in the hard work, the deliberate practice before the game / mission / trading session.

The humility is saved for the post event review/ debrief where we should be open to addressing our strengths and weaknesses, and looking at how to develop in the future. In high-performance environments there is a culture of debriefing to improve performance – however in many normal day-to-day experiences/roles/organisations there is not, for several reasons.

The ‘performance cycle’ can have many definitions. My simple definition has always been Plan. Execute. Review. (Also the first three letter of the word performance should you forget.) Actually one of the key skills is having the self-awareness and mental dexterity to be able to know what part of the performance cycle you’re in. Whilst you think this would be easy to recognise Syed provides many examples of individuals who brought the wrong attitude to the wrong part of the cycle. Something I can confirm from my own experiences.

I have met, seen and experienced many fighter pilots, fighter controllers, sportsmen, salespeople, traders, entrepreneurs who were lazy in preparation, humbled in execution and arrogant in the debrief!

In the old days of the fighter-pilot business it used to be first one back to the bar, and the one with the loudest/most assertive voice would win the debrief, regardless of what may have happened in the exercise/operation. This did not always give the best insight into a team or individuals strength, weakness and performance!

I have seen with my own eyes where it actually dissolved into fisticuffs round the back of the building post-debrief. (I once heard a Tornado F3 pilot getting stoved-in by a couple of his mud-moving brethren for being a talentless arrogant prick. I had to agree with their assessment of his character. What I learned was that very often such individuals are so thick-headed, and so lacking in self-awareness, that they only way to get the message through to them is with a good portion of knuckle sandwich.)

Thankfully technology has developed to such a level that nowadays Air Forces are able to accurately replay a mission and derive the truth, and the training value. There is no hiding place. This can be humbling in the debrief when see that your actions may have contributed to failure of the mission, or the death of colleagues. I can talk from personal experience that it is a sobering event, and drives a period of self-reflection. And it’s how you respond to that which will determine your success or failure in the future.

When I worked in the City it used to drive me up the wall that the companies I worked for would never conduct any kind of review/debrief process after any project, promotion or loss of client etc. People always said they were too busy for a debrief and that business moved too fast to make a point of debriefing. It’s where I truly got to understand the saying “success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan” as individuals tried to steal credit and then ignore mistakes. And then they would wonder why the organisation would keep wasting time and resources making the same mistakes again and again! Grrrrrrrrr!

I have had the pleasure to work with traders who have demonstrated impeccable knowledge and respect for the performance cycle. It’s a joy to behold. Sadly I have also seen many who happily ignore it and just focus on executing their trading system- and then wonder why they struggle!

So what comes through from exposure to great performers and their ability to consistently deliver is this:

Dedication in preparation. Self-assurance in execution. Humility in the debrief.

That is the great message to take away for traders. Ask yourself: are you like that in your own trading?

Syed finishes with the idea that it is having the mental dexterity to switch between the phases of the performance cycle which may be the key to unlocking those sports peoples greatness. I think there is definitely something we can all learn from that.



November 5, 2017


October Monthly Candles Part 3: Indices & Commodities (video)

Hey Traders,

Here’s part 3 of the monthly candles – focusing on Indices and Commodities

Apologies for the sound once again

Trade well



November 4, 2017


October Monthly Candles Part 2: USD, JPY, AUD, NZD, CAD FX pairs (video)

Hey Traders,

Here’s the 2 second of the videos focusing on the Monthly Candles.

Apologies for the sound quality.

Trade well,


November 4, 2017


The October Monthly Candles: Part 1 (video)

Hey Traders,

Here’s part 1 of the October Monthly Candles – focusing on the GBP & EUR FX Pairs.

Apologies for the sound quality.