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Why Are Commodity Prices Falling?

Commodity prices are falling. Fast. But why are commodity prices falling if they’re already at five year lows?

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It’s not unusual to see seasonal downswings in commodity prices during the summer months, but the magnitude of this past week’s move is so broad that it’s not seasonal but macroeconomic factors leading the charge.

The movement clearly illustrates the relationship between the dollar, interest rates, and commodity prices. Interest rates are increasing.  Dollar is strengthening. Commodity prices are dropping.

The theory behind the movement is that when the Fed “prints money,” the money flows into commodities and pushes prices up – and alternatively prices fall when money becomes scarce.  But what, exactly, is the mechanism that causes this relationship to exist?

Increasing interest rates decreases the price of commodities in four ways:

  1. It increases the pace at which commodities are produced by increasing the incentive for extraction today rather than tomorrow.
  2. It decreases the producer’s desire to carry inventories.  Storage costs increase.
  3. Institutional investors shift investment out of commodities (high risk) and into treasury bills (low risk).
  4. Strengthens the domestic currency, which, in effect, reduces the cost of globally traded commodities.

Right now, monetary tightening is widely anticipated in the US, with the FOMC signaling that they will likely raise short-term interest rates sometime this year – most likely September. It’s not seasonality or an actual change, but the expectation of a rate increase that’s pushing commodity prices lower.

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Bunnies and Money Management

It is essential to understand money management before you enter the market. In fact, learning the essentials is important before you try anything. I learned this lesson years ago while caring for my neighbors animals.

babybunnyLast summer, my neighbors went on their annual camping trip to Beaver, Utah. Every year they ask me to take care of their pets while they’re away. The number of pets they have is always growing, and that year consisted of 12 chickens, 2 fish, 1 cat, and 4 bunnies. I never have, and am doubtful that I ever will, own a pet, but I agreed to help them out. I received 3 pages of typed instruction, and training on how to place the labeled chicken food into the labeled chicken pen using the labeled chicken scoop (I may have accidently mixed up the cat and chicken food the year before). I even practiced feeding the chickens with their daughter two days in advance. They left feeling reassured that not even I could mess up their detailed instructions, and I watched them go feeling confident in my ability to keep their animals alive for five days (one year the cat jumped into the fish tank, resulting in a decrease in the fish population).

The next day: I fed the fish, I fed the cat (not the fish), I fed the chickens, gathered the chicken eggs, and opened the door to the bunny cage. Unfortunately, the bunny in there ran out as soon as the door was opened, and I spent the next hour chasing it around the backyard. Finally, with the bunny safely in my arms, I returned it to the cage with the other bunnies. I replaced the food and water, and left feeling like a champ.

The next five days passed uneventfully, and I was delighted with my success. My neighbors returned, and immediately checked to see if their dear pets were still alive. I happily informed them that they were all alive and well. Their daughter, inspecting the bunnies, turned around and said, “Mom? Why is the boy bunny in with the girl bunnies?” One month later, they had 34 baby bunnies.

Truthfully, I’m uncomfortable with animals. They sound easy to take care of, and I had the instructions and means to take care of them, but I had no experience or any idea on how to actually handle them. Now, relate this to money management. I know it can feel like a stretch comparing caring for animals to your money (though I wish my money could reproduce as fast as those rabbits), but the similarity isn’t between animals and money. It’s between knowing how to handle and care for them.

Proper care and handling of money in the markets is key to successful trading.  In the same way improper handling of the neighbors farm resulted in unintended consequences, improper handling of money can have unintended effects – loss of capital, longer hold periods, lost opportunities.  However, with some basic knowledge, a good set of instructions, close attention to details and discipline you’ll discover that you can manage your results with much greater control…  And who knows, maybe your monies can grow like bunnies.

Happy Trading!

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Greece Financial Crisis Explained

With all the financial news focused on a looming Greek debt default and the pundit’s myriad forecasts of apocalyptic consequence, it might be easy to forget that Greece is celebrating it’s 6th anniversary of this current debt crisis.Parthenon

In this post, I’d like peel back the layers of hype about the Greece financial crisis, and look at the root of the gridlock problem.

 

The question on everyone’s mind is, will Greece will exit the European Union? I personally feel that a Greek exit is a highly unlikely scenario, since there are no clear advantages to either the EU or Greece to separate.  Let me explain.

For the European Union, a Greek exit would be a political nightmare that opens a floodgate of financial problems.  You might think that Greece is relatively inconsequential in terms of its financial contributions to the EU, and that a Greek exit would not have much of an influence on its overall financial welfare.  So big deal, let Greece leave, write off the debt and focus on things that matter most!

The challenge for the EU is contagion.

Allowing the Greek domino to tip starts a chain of reactions in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other debt laden members of the EU.  The fight in Greece is a fight for the European Union itself.  While the demands for some level of austerity from Greece seem unfair, it is the only way to keep the EU in tact.  IF the EU softens debt terms for Greece, then it has to soften debt terms for other economically strained countries – putting an enormous burden on the already weak economic union.  A Greek exit is no better.  The EU could probably absorb Greek default, but defaults don’t happen in a vacuum.  The financial burden is not removed – it’s just transferred to other parties and you have no idea where the burden will manifest itself.  Clearly, the EU is stuck between a rock and a hard spot.

For Greece an exit is equally dire.  To exit the EU would mean austerity for the Greek people of the worst kind.  Some people are arguing that Greece should exit the EU, wipe their debt clean,  and start over printing it’s own currency – the New Greek Drachma.  The problem is that if Greece exits, then foreign investment money will be non-existent.  This puts the strain of finance on the Greek Central Bank to issue bonds, buy the bonds themselves, and print money to pay the bonds.  In short – inflation and taxation.  The inflation will destroy pensions and any semblance of wealth for Greek citizens.  In other words, a Greek exit will guarantee the austerity they are trying to avoid by renegotiating debt structure.  Greece’s argument that the debt demands from the EU are too burdensome for their citizens is a weak argument, because its only other option is worse austerity.  Clearly, Greece is stuck between a rock and a hard spot.

So what is most likely to happen next is exactly what has happened for the past six years.  Rescue funding may be given at the last moment to allow Greece to limp along for a few more months while political posturing continues to play out for the media.  Perhaps Greece will default on a payment – just like it did a couple years ago and just like Cyprus did in 2013.  Other political players such as Russia and the US will try to steer the outcome to their favor – possibly offering assistance in one form or another.  Meanwhile, you’ll have a group of bankers and lawyers working behind closed doors to restructure and renegotiate terms in hopes that time and inflation, or better yet, real economic growth will sweep all their problems away.

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Non-Directional Markets

With all the talk about volatility and the dollar strengthening… it appears the dollar stalled out in January, and has gone nowhere since. On January 27, the dollar was trading at 1.13 against the Euro and it’s there again today – the dollar has essentially gone nowhere in 6 months.

What we’re seeing is an extended period of non-directional movement in the dollar. This is a situation where large dollar gains and losses are typical – with the media focusing more on the strong dollar than the weak giving us the illusion that the dollar is strengthening when it is really just drifting sideways for an extended period.

The root cause of the non-directional market is uncertainty. As traders, we understand that the only guarantee in the markets is uncertainty, but this type of uncertainty is different. For example, it’s easy to frame uncertainty during a rate decision – if the rates increase the dollar goes up.  If the rates drop the dollar weakens.  However, the uncertainty of having one fed meeting after another with conflicting economic data is much more difficult to forecast future movement.

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And there is a lot of this type of uncertainty in our world.  Among them is the uncertainty surrounding the Greek debt defaults and the Grexit from the Eurozone.  An exit could bring contagion to financial markets – the extent to which no one really knows.

Geopolitical tensions (such as ISIS, South China Sea, and Ukraine) also make directional bias difficult.  At any moment tensions could flare resulting in greater uncertainty.

Adding to the uncertain cauldron, is the presidential race in the US, where we have an ever-expanding pool of candidates with no candidate showing any real sign of strength.  There is also the dysfunctional relationship between the Whitehouse and Congress, and their inability to settle on any meaningful fiscal policy.

All these factors make forecasting future trends foggy at best.

What do you do in markets like this?  The easiest solution is to use different models.  Fading the outside of the range is an effective strategy.  Reversals will tend to yield better results than breakouts.  Smaller timeframes will still have directional bias – albeit with smaller returns. And taking small incremental profits is better than hitting home runs.

Traders can survive periods of non-direction if we remember the rules are different and it requires a different book of play.  Don’t forget the rule of volatility – the market oscillate from periods of high volatility to low.  We are in a low volatility period so the next move is to an increase…  Clarity on any of the issues mentioned in this article could be a catalyst for that shift and you need to be prepared!
Happy Trading!

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Our Philosophy On Success

I was on facebook the other night, and I ran into an article, “Will Your Child be Rich or Poor? 15 Poverty Habits Parents Teach Their Children.”  I read the article, and was surprised by Habit #4. It stated,

“62% of the wealthy floss their teeth every day vs. 16% of the poor.”
 

Now that may seem like a silly statistic about an unrelated field.  I mean, how does flossing your teeth connect with the size of your bank account?  As I started to think, it hit me as to why it was #4 on the list. Successful people are creatures of habit, but not just any habits: Successful habits.

If you want clean teeth you need to both brush and floss.  I don’t think I am saying anything too ground breaking here.  I mean, we’ve all been taught the benefits of dental hygiene from a very young age.

So how will dental floss help you in your trading?

Habits.  We, by our life experience, create habits on how we act when different things happen to us.  When people see the market falling they are naturally fearful.  When people see the market raising they are naturally greedy.  It is not the emotions that define who we are, it is what we DO with those emotions.  Do you let fear take control of you?  Do you cut your winners short?  What we have found in the Apiary Fund is that the most successful traders are the ones who have a set of rules, and apply those rules consistently every day.  We all have times in trading where the market does not go our way.  The question is what do we do at those times?

Remedy: Know your rules and follow them.

That might seem like a nice trite remark, but what do I mean by know your rules?  Step one is to write your rules down on paper.  I know most of you have your system that you follow in your head, but if you can’t write it down then you can’t measure it.  If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it.  Once you know it, you have to follow it.

Seems like a simple enough recipe for success, but then again so does flossing!

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Meet The Newest Addition To The Apiary Family!

Hello everyone! It is a real pleasure to work for Apiary Fund. The environment here is awesome, and I am so blessed to work with great people with great energy, attitude, and an ability to always make you feel welcome.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Xavier Parra. I come from Ecuador: a small country in South America. Located in the middle of the world, Ecuador has nice beaches, mountains, and weather-summer all year long!

Some more about me. I have been in the US for over 10 years, and I enjoy having 4 seasons. It seems like time goes faster when you have 4 seasons (I might be the only one who feels that way, who knows). I have a Masters Degree in Economics, and was introduced to the currency market while studying Macroeconomics. I was intrigued by how currencies interact between each other, so I started learning more about this “mysterious market.”

One of the best things about FOREX (at least from my perspective) is that you are interacting with hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. You can feel the pulse of this market by checking the charts. The market keeps me current on the most important news around the world, because based on the news I can establish my positions (either to buy or sell certain currency pairs).

I am here to help people who share the same passion as me. I want to help people learn to love the things they learn from the market everyday.

Thanks!

-Xavier

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High Probability Trade Qualities

A frequently asked question is, “What is a high probability trade?”

When you sit down for a good trading session, finding a trade setup isn’t that hard-but there are trading setups, and then there are high probability trading setups.  In fact, in any given trading session you’ll only have a few setups with that coveted high probability quality that pays so handsomely!

So what are those qualities in a setup that make it high probability?

We’ve identified qualities of a high probability trade: (In order of importance)

1.     Trend.  Does the trend support the direction of the trade?

2.     Momentum.  Is momentum building or slowing?

3.     Support and Resistance.  Is the trigger above or below support?

4.     Pattern.  Is there a pattern to support the trade?

5.     Volatility.  Is there enough volatility to create a profit?

6.     Time.  Are you at the beginning of a time cycle?

7.     Indicators.  Does your favorite indicator support the setup?

Like a good attorney, you can use the qualities listed above to build a solid case for a high probability trade.  If you don’t have everything aligned, then the probability of successful trade drops.  If your trading setup has these qualities in perfect alignment, then there’s a high probability the trade will work to your favor.

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Success on the Field

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Everyone knows that Apiary fund is made of traders, but did you know that we have a professional football player right here in our midst? That’s right. Drafted by the BC Lions in Vancouver, Paul Allen grew up playing ball and decided to play for BYU in 1959.

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In 1961 Paul was a running back and special teams BYU Football player. He holds the record for the longest average punt return yardage. He was a tank whose tenacity and perseverance allowed him to carry the ball an average of 40.1 yards each punt return.

When asked about his success, he said it mainly came because he ran fast-and because he was really scared. Well, we say tongue-in-cheek that it takes a lot more than fear to hold a record like that. He still holds the record, and it has stood for over 50 years. For more information about what the Legacy reward is, click here:http://thejetaward.com/the-jet-award-story/ You can see Paul’s stats at http://byucougars.com/athlete/m-football/paul-allen

 

Paul has brought that same record making tenacity and perseverance that brought him success on the field into his work. He loves helping and developing traders. His patience in seeing the lay of the land both on and off the field has been a great asset to Apiary. Paul has been instrumental in counseling traders, helping them get into funded accounts, and becoming successful in the stock market.

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What your Forex Broker Doesn’t Want You To Know

When it comes to trading foreign currency, most investors have at least heard of the two main camps that most forex brokers fall into. There are Electronic Communications Networks (ECNs) and Market Makers. Let me begin by first introducing each of these.

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Market Makers behave pretty much as you’d expect from their name – they “make” the market. They have the ability to internally set both the bid and ask price of the quotes they provide and they can do this because of the actual liquidity that a typical Market Maker brings to market. In other words, they have to take the opposite side of your trade. So order fills can be a bit better with a Market Maker, as long as you understand that the “fill” you are getting begins and ends with your broker. Another important point with a Market Maker is they will usually have smoother spreads. What I mean by smoother is that the spread they offer is usually more predictable. Because they aren’t making money through commissions (usually), they make most of their money by offering a spread that they set. So as you might imagine, if you were a Market Maker you might think the same way – “This is my money that I’m using to fill your order, so I’m going to give you the price that works best for me.”

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ECNs operate a bit differently. A true ECN will aggregate prices from multiple providers (like banks and even Market Makers) and offer you the best bid and the best ask. Their philosophy is very different from a Market Maker, because they will not manipulate the quotes nearly as much. They offer this because their money isn’t made in the spread, they make their money in charging you a commission on every trade. A fill on an ECN is not always guaranteed, which can make some traders miss their ideal price. Because ECNs offer quotes from many different sources, their prices are often more volatile which, depending on your style, can make it very difficult to be profitable. A common limitation that an ECN will have is on their servers. Due to the fact that they pull in multiple quotes from different sources, when those are aggregated they are also throttled. It wouldn’t be possible for them to provide every quote they receive to each of their traders. That would be very difficult, or at the very least it would be fiscally detrimental. Now that we have introduced both, let me explain how the Apiary Fund works.

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Apiary Fund operates like a hybrid of each of these camps. Lets just say we made our own camp. We have an interest in adjusting the spread like a Market Maker, except we don’t want to widen it for our profit. We want to tighten it so that the trader can profit. Also, we don’t take a dime of commission on any trade because we don’t want to add burden to any order regardless of direction. Like ECNs, Apiary works to negotiate with multiple liquidity providers to offer the best bid and ask with every quote. Unlike ECNs, Apiary works very hard to ensure that every quote we receive makes it to our Alveo trading platform. This is evident by watching a quote screen on Alveo compared to a quote screen on other platforms. When getting a new quote means the difference between your trade being profitable or not, wouldn’t you like to get them from a fire hose instead of a garden hose? We certainly think so.

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Bottom line, where in the world does the Apiary Fund make money if this is true? The answer is simple. When our traders make money. We want to make that very clear. When one of our TRADERS MAKE MONEY then APIARY MAKES MONEY. It’s that simple. Our goal is to create as many profitable traders as we possibly can. So as you can see, our incentives are aligned with that of our traders. Just like in a beehive (aka apiary), the more honey each bee makes, the more sustainable life is for everyone. That’s our philosophy.

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A Constructive Review

Silas shares his story on how he got involved with Apiary fund.

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How

I started working for Apiary Fund in 2013. Before I got involved, I had never traded before; I don’t think I had even used a computer. I had been a union worker out of Local 27 for ten years. I never had enough money to even think about trading, or learn what forex was. If it wasn’t for Shawn, I know I wouldn’t be here…

 

I was injured in a construction job, which led me to find a new home, and meet an awesome man.  He introduced me to his company, the Apiary Fund. He offered me a job-something I had no experience in.

Since I started last year, I have worked my way into a funded account. Trading is something that I can do for the rest of my life. I enjoy that fact that can work from my home and spend time with my family, but no matter where I am, as long as I have a computer, I can trade.

I am very grateful for the turn of events in my life: the support I receive from my now close friend Shawn, the opportunity to come to his Apiary family, my amazing co-workers, and the many, many great people I get to meet on the phone daily.

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