Saturday, 8 August 2015

Football's coming home

15:56 Posted by The Thalesians (@thalesians) No comments

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." Bill Shankly, former Liverpool manager. 

It's the first day of the football season in Britain. Tomorrow, the newspapers will be awash with goals scored, players booked and fans agonising. I've picked my Fantasy Football team, which I've entered into a league with a few friends. I have little doubt that I'll end up being at the bottom of the league. I really don't know enough to make any educated judgements about the players. Which striker will score the most? I've got no idea. Which keeper will save the most goals? I've got no idea. That doesn't matter though. To enjoy the game of football, you don't need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge, you just need to take part and watch as part of the crowd.

What I do know about football is that it makes memories, some joyful, some less so. I can remember Zidane running rings around his opponents and his last sending off. I can remember Cantona, winning the FA Cup and his kung-foo kick. I can remember Messi, slipping past defenders on his way to goal and walking past the World Cup trophy, unable to hold it aloft. Success and failure. You cannot have one without the other. The fear of failure is what makes the joy of success so palpable. When success is assured, what point is there in trying?

Like football, markets are made of memories, some joyful, some less so. There's the market's joy when equities are rallying. The market is making money. Then there are the lows, the crises and the uncertainty which surrounds them. Traders are glum, their screens are awash with the colour red, signalling losses in their portfolios. If anyone tells you trading is easy, it's clear they have little idea what actually impacts markets. Yet, just as with football, it is failure and the risks of losses, that make markets a more exciting place to be, even if it never feels like it at the time. If markets were not challenging, if markets were seemingly "easy", would you learn as much? Would you appreciate it quite as much, when times are good? Likely not. Certainly not. Something which I've written about repeatedly, is that the "pain" from losing cannot be backtested. Whilst, it is not something you would welcome, it is at the very least something to learn from. A failure to learn from a failure, is probably the biggest failure of all.

So in the year ahead of this new football season, your team might well top the table, or it may not. Whatever happens, on the football field or in markets, best of luck! It's better to be lucky, than be bored of the result.

If you're on the US East Coast, I'll be in Washington DC 27 Sep, NYC 29 Sep-3 Oct and Boston 5 Oct if you'd like to meet me and hear more about systematic trading! If you're in mainland Europe, I'll be in Frankfurt 7 Sep and Zurich 8 Sep.

Like my writing? Have a look at my book Trading Thalesians - What the ancient world can teach us about trading today is on Palgrave Macmillan. You can order the book on Amazon. Drop me a message if you're interested in me writing something for you or creating a systematic trading strategy for you! Please also come to our regular finance talks in London, New York, Budapest, Prague, Frankfurt & Zurich- join our group for more details here (Thalesians calendar below)

07 Sep - Frankfurt - Saeed Amen/Yves Hilpisch (tbc)/Thomas Wiecki/Jochen Papenbrock/Miguel Vaz/Adrian Zymolka - Quant Evening (Thalesians/Quant Finance Group Germany)
08 Sep - Zurich - Saeed Amen - How to build a CTA? / interactive Python demo
23 Sep - London - Stephen Pulman - Multi-Dimensional Sentiment Analysis
01 Oct - New York - Saeed Amen - How to build a CTA? / interactive Python demo (tbc)
21 Oct - London - Robert Carver - Lessons from systematic trading


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