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.


September 19, 2017


Pride comes before a fall….

Hello traders,

I wanted to draw your attention to this rather surreal interview on Bloomberg last week. Former celeb fund manager Hugh Hendry was on there talking about him closing down his Eclectica fund after 15 years. Having made a fortune, and a name for himself shorting banks during the GFC he’s found the going since then rather tougher.  His fund was at one time approx. $1.3bn AUM, but he’s managed to whittle that down to his last $30 million. That will no longer allow him to cover his fees and other commitments so he’s shutting up shop and handing the pennies back (whilst presumably keeping his fees.)

The clip below is a shortened version of the full interview, but personally I think it’s TV gold. It gives us some great insight into how hubris can get us into trouble. How believing your own bullshit leads you down the path of eventual ruin. How easily it is for us to become euphoric and over-confident after a period of success. And why demonstrating humility, and good grace for your successes, is always the right path.


A few points that annoyed me about this….

  1. “I died in active combat…”  No you didn’t chumpy. You f**ked up, quite spectacularly, that’s what you did.  As a Veteran I take umbrage at this. Watching numbers on a screen, is not active combat, its nothing like it at all. It’s disrespectful to use such words, and shows me how out of touch you’d become.
  2. “The markets are wrong!”  No buddy, they are not. They maybe irrational, they maybe totally outside of your comprehension, but they’re never wrong. To think that your view and bias of the markets is the correct one is the kind of page 1 mistake I expect from a complete beginner, not from a seasoned professional. Another example of believing your own bullshit. The map is not the territory. As Keynes said “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” That’s a perfect quote for what happened here.
  3. “If I succeeded at anything, I succeeded at being idle.”  Listen up Hugh, perhaps if you’d put a shift in, then maybe you wouldn’t be sat on huge losses and having to close your fund. I know that success is a personal thing, however if I was one of the investors in Hendry’s fund I’d be livid at that comment. I’d be getting ready to sue him for professional negligence! Anyway after this debacle Hugh is, I suspect, going to be spending a lot more time being ‘successful’ at home on his own.
  4. Absolutely no contrition – for a man who has just spunked $1 billion up the wall you’d think he’d be somewhat contrite or at least humble?  I saw no evidence of this – filled with his own hubris he blamed North Korea, Trump, Governments, Central banks etc for his woes. Not once did I catch any real admission of guilt. There was to be no mea culpa.

I felt not one ounce of sympathy for the man after watching that. I wondered why he’d go on TV and be like that? Maybe he’d become accustomed, or even addicted, to the celeb status he’d acquired? To the attention of fawning finance sycophants around him?  Who knows – but he’s going to have a lot of time to reflect upon that from now on.

One of the reasons I started trading and investing for myself was for characters like Hugh. In an earlier role and life I used to spend time with fund-managers, and analysts, and was so often left underwhelmed by the experience. Lots of plummy talk, lots of fake bonhomie, lots of grandiose ideas, and bragging. All to cover up for having very little talent.  As the Americans would say, all hat and no cattle.

I remember thinking to myself “If you can’t join them, beat them.” And so it became not about beating the market (a term I’ve never liked) – but about beating the cheesy, talentless players who filled up lots of fund-management roles back then. In many ways it was the worst decision I’ve ever made. In many ways it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

So what can we take away?

  1. You’re only as good as your last trade/month/quarter – never get complacent thinking you’re the bees knees.
  2. Stay learning – the moment you think you know it all is the moment you’re about to get smacked in the face. Stay humble, and stay addicted to learning. Stay curious about markets.
  3. Your biggest drawdown is the one you’re yet to have – having that sort of mindset will help you focus on risk management and minding your business.
  4. Have a good network around you that keep you grounded and level-headed. It’s easy to surround yourself with people who share the same view as you (this could be about every element of life: trading, relationships, politics, whatever) but this is fatal. Make sure you have friends from all side of the spectrum. Engage in good constructive debate about your ideas with these people. Enjoy it, learn from it, hone your ideas and sharpen your edge upon them.
  5. Youre only human – during the time of the Roman Empire whenever a general or leader won a great victory or had a great prize bestowed upon them they would have a lowly servant ride in the chariot with them at the victory parade. The servants job was to whisper in their ear “you’re not a god, you’re merely a mortal human-being.” This was to remind them of the vanity of honours and for them to be vigilant about their behaviour lest it destroy themselves. It’s pretty clear Hugh never had that slave in his chariot. Who’s the slave in your chariot?
  6. When a major bear is routed and throws in the towel to join the bulls….is that the sign of a top? Discuss.

Anyway, rant over – I hope you can take some learnings from my words. By all means let me know what you think – perhaps you disagree? That’s ok, I’m happy to hear that – (see point 4 above!)

I’m going to be touching upon Hugh, and markets in my presentation at the London Traders Forum this coming Saturday in London. Come along if you want to hear more of my rants!

Trade well,


September 15, 2017


Developing Trader Performance: On Managing Self and Money

Fellow Traders,
This October and November I shall be running a stage of The VTP that focuses on Managing Self and becoming a Money Manager.

It’ll will be split into 2 sections namely:  The first half on managing self. How do you manage and enhance your own trading performance? What kind of network and support structure do you need to create around you? How do you deal with those inevitable slumps?

The second half is on managing money – namely other peoples. The truth is that most independent traders are under-capitalised, and they need to find ways to increase their Trading Capital. You may or may not have dreams of becoming a money-manager. However remember we reach for our goals but we settle for our standards. Acting as if you are a fund manager is never a bad thing in your own trading business because it holds you to that higher standard in your own behaviour.


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 credible space to seek funding (if that is your wish).

It will consist of working together for 4-6 sessions over 2-3 months
– 4 x half day sessions (probably over 2-3 days)
– 2 x online sessions
For a total of 19-20 hours working together

So as always there’s a cost: Because I am allowed to use a corporate clients office it means that I can keep costs low and accessible for Independent Traders. For members of the London Traders Network the cost will be £397. This is a great reward:risk trade as what you’ll learn, and the pitfalls you’ll avoid, will save you the fee many times over.

There are plenty of training courses out there that focus on trading strategies. For most people its not more strategies they require – but an understanding of how to manage themselves and their business.   There’s few, if any, that focus on supporting Independent Traders to manage their performance and transition towards fund management.

I’ll only run this once a year and there is an opportunity for you to join us. We only operate in small groups as it allows the traders to share their experience. So if you’d like to learn more about how to manage your trading performance and learn about what it takes to become a money manager then get in touch by replying here or mailing me: . As always the slots go on a first-come first-served basis.
Trade well,


September 5, 2017


September 2017 Monthly Candles Part 3: Indices (Video)

Here’s part 3 of my monthly analysis – focusing on Indices and Commodities.

Enjoy and trade well,


September 4, 2017


September 2017 Monthly Candles Part 2: USD, JPY, CHF & Comdolls (video)

Here’s part 2 of the Monthly candle analysis featuring he rest of the 28 pairs I focus on.

Trade well,


September 4, 2017


September 2017 Monthly Candles Part1: GBP & EUR (video)

Hello Traders,

Here’s part 1 of my monthly analysis focusing on GBP & EUR pairs.

Trade well,