Pros and cons of stop loss orders

A two-sided article written by Alex Foster and The White Coat Investor taking opposing views on the usage of stop loss orders.

Alex takes the pro-stop loss side, concluding:

Investing is a balance act of risks and rewards. Investors can reduce downside risks while maintaining the potential for rewards available by using a trailing stop ladder. The benefits of using a trailing stop ladder outweigh the negatives. While laddering out of a position with staggered trailing stops does not eliminate risks, it does reduce the size of losses significantly during a bear market.

On the other side, The White Coat Investor cites six reasons he doesn’t sue stop loss orders:

additional costs

additional taxes

additional complexity

stop loss orders are a form of market timing

beware of getting whipsawed

watch out for gapping

Alex includes a final rebuttal addressing each of the arguments. A big part of of the decision comes down to how active and disciplined you can be with your investing. If you truly believe in your investments for the long-term, there’s no need to bother. If you’re looking short-term and/or willing and capable of trading in-and-out on a consistent basis yet don’t want to watch the market all day, stop losses can be used effectively.

Read more at Stop Loss Orders – Pro/Con Series at The White Coat Investor.

Dollar cost averaging with stop loss orders?

More on stop loss orders, which are called The Most Important Trading Tactic in this article from The Balance. The idea of stop-losses is great. In practice, I’m less convinced.

The optimal degree of the stop-loss price is different for every investor, and sometimes may be as low as a few percent. For others the level could be as great as 30 percent, sometimes even larger. For example, some investors may set their stop-loss price at 70 cents for shares which were bought at $1. Whatever level each person chooses represents their total downside risk.

An effective strategy to protect against downside, and preserve potential gains, is to use multiple stop-loss prices.  For example, you may commit to selling a portion of the shares at one price, then another part at an even lower level.  Using our example once more, when the shares hit $2.85, you may have established a mental stop-loss at $2.50 for one-third of the shares, then another at $2.00 for the remaining two-thirds.

Tips for successfully using stop loss orders

A few highlights from the post 10 Great Tips For Using Stop Loss Orders Successfully at StockTrader.com.

1. Never use stop loss orders for active trading. For investors that watch their screens all day and are involved in day trading a stop loss order serves little purpose.

4. For the original placement always give the stock atleast 5% of space to avoid market maker abuse. If the stock is trading at $100, a stop loss should be no higher than $95 initially as intraday price swings may cause the order to trigger prematurely

9. Set the trigger price at common price increments. Prices like $100 or $60.50 are far more common to be traded at than $123.47. By placing the trigger price at a common increment there is a smaller chance of the stock “trading through” the order trigger.

Stop limits kicked in on nearly my entire portfolio this week as the market has dropped relatively significantly across the board. A few stocks have popped back above my selling positions, though overall it’s saved me from a lot of losses. I’m still unsure if this is the best practice moving forward, since some gains were lost and some items sold at “flash crash” type prices, possibly engineered by Wall Street in some way.

Being too cautious can be costly in investing

Ben Carlson on the false narrative of all-time highs resulting in a crash. There’s a lot of talk about the market being ready for a correction simply because things are going well.

Here, Carlson quotes a myth from his own book, publishedin 2013:

Of course, stocks can fall from all-time highs, but hitting an all-time high isn’t necessarily the trigger that causes them to fall. Since 1950, there have been over 1,100 all-time highs reached on the S&P 500. That’s good enough for almost 7 percent of all trading days or roughly one out of every 15 days that the market is open. Here is the breakdown by decade that shows how often the S&P 500 hits a new high level:

He then goes on to give some numbers on what’s happened since then:

Since new highs were hit in 2013 there have been 201 new ATHs in total. This year alone there have already been 13 new all-time highs on the S&P 500, the same number that was seen in the entire decade of the 2000s. It’s not even the end of January.

Stocks are already up almost 8% this year and that’s after 9 straight years of gains (with 7 of those annual returns in double-digit territory). It’s been almost 20 months since we saw a 5% correction.

A good reminder that being cautious can be costly too. Rad his post All-Time Highs, Risk & Consequences at A Welath of Common Sense.

There’s reason for banks to worry about bitcoin

And here’s a good reason for banks to be wary of Bitcoin:UBS Group AG Chairman Axel Weber said the Swiss bank won’t trade Bitcoin or offer it to retail clients as increased regulation could lead to a “massive” drop in value.

“This is something where the price is really unclear,” Weber said in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg TV at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We fear that in the future if these investments implode and the market corrects, then investors will be looking at ‘who sold us this?’”

If some dude on the internet sells you a hugely volatile asset with no intrinsic value and it immediately loses 50 percent of its value, you’re like “well played, dude on the internet.” If a bank does it, though, you sue.

from Matt Levine in Crypto Finance Meets Regular Finance at Bloomberg.com