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You’ll Love This Refined Hedge: 15 Wins, 1 Loss in Last 2 Years

Beating Heart 2

Marathon Petroleum Company (MPC,$66.25) is down $1.20 today, and has an option that expires in 60 days on April 20, 2018. That’s a great set-up for a trade that has been a winner 93% of the time over the last 2 years. Enter a “Short Put Spread” using the 60-day option.

      • Sell short the 30-Delta put and buy long the 10-delta put. That is, short the $62.50 put and buy the $57.50 put, using the April 20, 2018 options.

You should be able to hold this spread into April and then roll it out to the next 60-day put.  MPC is a refining company that is expected to benefit from several changes working their way through regulatory agencies.    Rolling the 60-day Delta 30-10 put spread has been profitable 15 of the last 16 periods.  Risk is $500/spread minus the credit you get when you enter the trade.  At the moment, that credit is $85/spread. View the back test:

Wishing you peace, prosperity and good hedging!


Texas Instruments Hedge Updated

Frau Lachelt

UPDATE April 17th: With 4 days until Feb’s roll to the April 20th put spread expires, it is time to take profits. TXN has rallied to our $105 strike price on the short April puts. There’s no need to hang around in markets this volatile. Buy back the short $105 puts, which are at $1.00 asked at the moment. Our initial Feb $107-$101 short put spread was entered for a credit of $1.02. We rolled that to the April 20th $105-$95 short put spread at a credit of $2.90/spread. Buy back the $105 puts at today’s $1.00, and that’s net $2.92/spread on a risk of $6.08 ($10-3.92) or 48% gain in 3 months. Happy Trading!

Feb 14th Update.  I’ve updated the expiring “short put spread” hedged trade on Texas Instruments posted on my Linked-In pages.  Of the several real-time hedges I’ve posted over the past four weeks, TXN is the only one showing a loss, and several of the wins have been eye-popping.  I’m considering migrating next month’s hedges to Word Press as Linked-In readership is meager, especially considering the gains these trades have made.  I’m increasingly of the opinion that Linked In could be renamed “Dead End”.    Here’s the link, with the TXN trade update at the bottom.  The suggested roll-out has a better than 80% win rate over the last 5 years, so it stands by itself if you missed the original trade:

You can scroll through the other trades at the bottom of the Linked In page.

Wishing you peace, prosperity, and good trading…

Odd Words Weekly: Jactation

Jactation is a noun that means “boasting, bragging, showing off.”  (It also has a medical meaning related to twitching or shaking of the body.)

“The President’s self-serving jactations grow wearisome.”

Odd Words Weekly: Vecordious

Senseless, but without connotations of insanity.  “A carcinoma on her shoulder was the eventual result of her vecordious devotion to sunbathing in her youth”.  Read more…

Odd Words Weekly: Muliebrity


is a noun that is the female version of a male’s “virility”.  Her muliebrity is celebrated far and wide.  Muliebrity would connote “softness”, perhaps not of spirit but certainly of physicality.

Would this word be decried by hard-line feminists?  Inquiring minds want to know!


A Trader’s Guide to Surviving the Stock Market

Karl Drobnic

I’ve traded stocks for forty years from various countries around the world.  The stock exchange in Addis Ababa was a chalk board in a local bank, open a couple hours on weekdays.  Spokane was dedicated to penny mining stocks. I traded currencies sitting atop burlap sacks of wheat in Kabul’s old granary.  Now we’ve got super-fast online algos and battalions of talking heads promoting their own interests.  But no matter.  Some things I’ve learned cut through the hype.  I hope they help you if trades are going wrong.

1. A trade is neither right nor wrong.  A trade can only be profitable or not profitable.

  • a) Profitable is good.
    b) Unprofitable is bad. Do something!

2. Therapy for traders on a losing streak:

  • a) Brag about your losers, not your winners. Tell everybody about losses. Get on the phone! Tweet!
    b) For a losing trade the only thing to brag about is how small you kept the loss, how quickly you stopped the bleeding.
    c) Your Ego must understand that you’re going to tell everybody about every loss.
    d) Bragging about losers will develop an inner voice urging you to get out. It will replace the voice keeping you in losing trades.

3. The market is uncaring. If you hang on to losing trades, telling
yourself “I’m right, I know I’m right”, the market will grind your
trading stake down to zero.

4. Every trade has two aspects, time and market direction.

  • a) for every trade, know your time frame.
    b) for every time frame, determine market direction.
    c) enter the trade near the beginning of the time frame with
    the market going in the direction of your trade.
    d) you can now monitor your trade in terms of time and
    market direction.
    e) at the end of the time frame, recalculate. Are your assumptions still correct? What’s your new time frame? Why are you still in the trade?
    f) if the market direction changes, why are you still in the
    trade? Why didn’t you set a stop? Are you looking
    for a loss to brag about? Return to #2.

5. As an individual trader, you’re competing against guys with PhD.s in
math and physics, against algos and super-fast computers, against ruthless pit
traders who have the advantage of being on the floor.

  • a) The PhD.s are smarter than you.
    b) The pit traders are genetically superior – short
    attention spans quickly alert to new stimuli, the
    master hunters of pre-historic times.
    c) Your computer is no match for the competing computers.
    d) Always know where the escape hatch is for each and
    every trade. How fast can you get through it? Practice!

6. If you start believing that you have some special insight into the
market, that you’ve “cracked the code”, discovered “the natural order of
the market”, that the market will go where you say, then put your money in T-Bills and take a long vacation. Motorcyclists who stay afraid of their machines die of old age. Those who think they’re Evel Knieval die terrible deaths. Know your machine before you drive it, and stay alert. Freight trains do come roaring across unmarked crossings.

7. The market is a mechanism for transferring wealth. It does so by
causing pain. Great wealth transfers in times of great pain. Losses are
a way of causing pain. Card sharks operate by letting the sucker win big
in the early going. But by the end of the game, the card sharks have all
the sucker’s money, his clothes, his house, and the sucker’s gratitude
for letting him get away from the table with his life. If you’re making
bigger and bigger trades, think about the sucker who ended up betting it
all exactly at the time the sharks held all the winning cards. Trading
is a business. You go to work in the morning, go home at night, and earn
a paycheck at the end of the week. Keep the size of your trades
reasonable. The sharks can’t take what’s not on the table.

8. Once in a while a sure thing comes along. It’s a good day to skip
trading and take a walk on the beach.

9. As options expiration approaches, the Grand Croupier will sweep the table in all directions. You’re not the croupier. In the last week, never keep an expiring short position that’s within reach of the croupier’s stick. Time and an approaching expiration let the croupier take control of an open short. It’s asking for great pain.

10. Getting market direction right is only the first step of a trade.
Selecting the best trade (trading strategy) is the next step. For
example, is it better to go long a put (it will decay against you)?… or
to enter a call spread for a credit (it will decay for you)? The answer
depends on market conditions. Money management is the 3rd step. Your
goal is to make a profit, not show the world. Your profit/loss statement
will accurately reflect your trading at the end of every day. Read it
carefully. Understand its message.

These are a few thoughts that I’ve found helpful. I hope they help you, too. Please feel free to share them.  Wishing you peace, prosperity and good trading – Karl.

After the market closes, I hope you’ll relax with a copy of my novel, “A Lesion of Dissent”. It’s available on both and at the links below.

Same great novel, your choice of either original art cover

Carla Grissmann, Sri Lanka, Colombo, Karl Drobnic, Khyber, Afghanistan <== Cover, Edition, click cover to buy

Author Karl Drobnic

Cover, Smashwords Edition- “Annette Monclere at Cabaret Khartoum” click cover to buy

The Nazi SS in Afghanistan, or How I Met the Gestapo Twenty Years Late

Author Karl Drobnic

Karl Drobnic, adventurer and author of “A Lesion of Dissent”

I stood by a painted post on a gravel highway. Chill autumn wind was blowing through sparse sagebrush on the darkening Baluchi plains and I did not know what to do. Westward, the milk-train bus I’d ridden all day was retreating back into Iran. East of the post lay Afghanistan, its nearest city, Herat, miles away through the fast-falling night. Several other backpackers from various Western nations also stood near that post, the final passengers to exit the bus that we’d boarded early that morning in Meshad.  In 1968, no one but adventurers went overland to Afghanistan.

baluchistan desert Herat

The Baluchi plains, where dark was quickly falling

The border was the post, the post was the border, our transport was gone. We faced away from the disappearing bus, marooned, staring in the direction we thought must lead to Herat.  Very gradually, some dim lights appeared, and slowly grew bolder, though hardly brighter. We watched until a World War II surplus army jeep pulled up, an Afghan at the wheel.

We quickly established that we had no common language. “Herat,” we said and pointed. “Herat,” he said and pointed. We fumbled our way to a price for transport, handed over some money, and piled into the jeep, crowded together, backpacks on our knees. And then out of the dark, another Afghan appeared, clutching a long Browning rifle, the weapon the Allies issued their infantry in WW II.

Jeep World War II surplus

Surplus jeeps from WW II found their way to all parts of the world

The driver motioned for us to make room, and Rifleman crowded in, a big man right next to me in the front seat, squeezing me over against the driver, and we began a slow crawl along the rutted highway into the eastern night, the limpid six-volt headlights swallowed by the ebony deepness of the surrounding black. A mile passed as the driver picked our way through ruts and chuckholes, and another mile and more, a monotonous, jarring journey with no glimpse of Herat yet on the horizon.

Of a sudden, we were each aware that we were no longer on the highway. The jeep was bouncing across undulated mounds, sagebrush swishing by the open sides. We talked at the driver in various languages, asking why we’d left the highway, entreating him to return, trepidation rising as we bounced deeper into trackless desert. Beside me, Rifleman loomed large in the very faint glow of a few dashboard gauges. “Oh, god, this is it,” one of the travelers behind me said. I knew what he meant. At best, we would be robbed and left bereft in the desert, at worst, murdered as well.

A mile or so seemed to pass, and as the jeep topped a mound, an earthen structure materialized, shaped somewhat like a quonset hut. The blank end of the building threw back enough headlight to define it from the swallowing darkness all around. The driver sounded his horn, and soon, a dazzling white light flooded out from the center of the hut, a door opening and letting out the brilliant white glow of hissing pressure lanterns.

Nazi SS Afghanistan Gestapo

Gestapo uniforms outlasted the organization at the far ends of the earth

The jeep stopped a few feet from the door. Rifleman jumped out, then motioned us towards the hut. The driver was talking and pushing on my shoulder, saying something none of us could understand. First out of the jeep, I was also first into the hut. I stepped through the door, squinting at the bright pressure lanterns hung from the low, rounded roof, facing a long trestle-type table, and then I froze, the traveler entering behind bumping me forward. Grouped at the table were six tall men in Gestapo uniforms: black-wooled, ribboned and medaled, epauletted, leather-belted, weapons-holstered Nazi storm troopers.

Only they weren’t German. They were bearded Afghans. The other travelers pushed in around me as I gawked. They too, stopped and stared. The Gestapo stood behind the table, erect, strict, staring back. One of our group said something in German, and one of the Gestapo said something back, not in German. We sifted through languages and finally found some commonality in elementary Turkish.

“Passports,” our Turkish-speaking traveler said. “He wants to see our passports.” But we still did not comprehend and murmurs of objection floated around our group. Some more rudimentary Turkish was exchanged. “It’s the border patrol,” our interpreter finally said. “We’ve got to get stamped into Afghanistan.”

The jeep driver was motioning for us to sit at the long table as he shouted towards an Afghan at the far end of the room. We sat and laid passports out on the table, then breathed easier when the man the driver had shouted to came forward with a tray of glasses and a large pot of tea. I warmed my hands on the tea glass and tendered my passport down the table with those of the other travelers.

And then a heaping platter of rice pilaf appeared and bowls and spoons, and while the Gestapo-draped guards thumbed our passports, we fell to eating. We ate, they stamped, and more tea was poured. Along one wall of the hut, a high shelf ran its length. Spaced along the shelf were hookahs, the kind with the long hoses that pass around from smoker to smoker. Our driver spoke some more to the tea-man, and he  fell to bringing water pipes to the table and lighting them.

hookah water pipe Afghanistan

The Gestapo-guards watched as we made awkward attempts to draw on the water pipes, and laughed at our ineptitude. They spread among us as we shifted to make room, and gave us lessons in water-piping.  At first we were smoking a sweet, rose-flavored tobacco, and as the guards began to congratulate us on getting the water pipes right, the smoke shifted to heavier mixtures, opium-laced hashish perhaps, but I do not know.  Thus we drifted through endless glasses of tea, smoking, sipping, arm in arm with latter-day storm troopers.

Gradually, their story emerged. Somewhere in Hitler’s mad march to power, he had decreed that Afghanistan was the true ancestral origin of the Aryan race. He reached out with foreign aid, supplying military training for the warlords that controlled the amalgamation of districts that was Afghanistan.  The advisers he sent played dress up, supplying uniforms and attempting to transplant the goose-stepping Gestapo that was then terrorizing Germany. World War II came, and then it went, but good wool uniforms last a long time. Afghanistan, forgotten and at the end of the earth in those days, did what it always does. It carried on.  The warlord of that western territory spanning the Herat road had inherited trunks filled with the Gestapo uniforms and liked the look, uncaring or perhaps uninformed of the stigma they carried elsewhere in the world.

Over the decades since, I have spoken with many intrepid travelers who entered Afghanistan at that post on the Herat highway, but none has ever recalled a similar encounter with Nazi-clad patrols.  It seems at times that it was a water-pipe dream, but it was not.  It was Afghanistan, the end of the earth, where events were to get ever stranger as the years passed, as curious travelers became invading armies, and as I retired to my armchair to contemplate uncommon encounters in places far, far away.

While you’re here, I hope you’ll take a moment to check out my novel set in the tumult of the 1960s. “A Lesion of Dissent” is available at either or Smashwords. com per the links below.

Carla Grissmann, Sri Lanka, Colombo, Karl Drobnic, Khyber, Afghanistan <== Cover, “A Lesion of Dissent”, Edition: “Leaving Mombasa”, click cover to buy

Author Karl Drobnic

Cover “A Lesion of Dissent”, Smashwords Edition: “Annette Monclere at Cabaret Khartoum”, click cover to buy