The other day I asked the question “How have these markets impacted your trading?” (if you haven’t already left your thoughts, please feel free to do so).Â I was very interested to see the number of responses which were variations on the “I’ve kept to the sidelines” theme. It seems like the volatility of the markets has driven quite a fewÂ traders away. The question is whether that’s a temporary thing until the volatility drops back down, or whether it’s a more permanent development.
From the perspective of a trading educator, I like to hear that traders who are struggling with the markets have pulled back and areÂ using the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about things, leaving their money out of harm’s way. That’s a very intelligent and rational way to go about things. I don’t recall who it was, but one of the traders interviewed in Market Wizards said something to the effect of “When you don’t understand what’s going on, get out.” And of course if the volatility means you would have to take more risk than you should to make a trade, then youÂ shouldn’t make the trade (which of course also brings back the question of capitalization levels).
Of course not all those who have pulled their money out of the markets are traders who will return when conditions are better. Many are people who feel burned. It’s like the exodus after the Crash in 1987 and the bear market at the start of this decade. Both drove investors out for years. This chart highlights that very well:
The Normalized Average True Range (N-ATR) below the monthly S&P 500 plot tells us how much volatility there is from month to month. We can see that it dropped off very significantly in the years after the ’87 Crash, and then again after the Tech Bubble burst. Given how volatile the markets have been of late, as the N-ATR line shows,Â I wouldn’t be surprised to see another period of relatively quiet trading once we get past this period of uncertainty about the markets and the global economy.
With that in mind, it’s worth looking at your trading strategies and evaluating them as to how they may respond to changing circumstances. That’s something you should be doing periodically anyway.