From a comment I posted on Leaprate.com Today

The below was written as a Comment and Reply to a previous commentor regarding social trading in th eMargin Trading Products industry.

Rather than “illusion”, a better term for copy-trading and social trading is (was?) “marketable add-on service”. Of course there were few legitimate, successful trade leaders. There was no need for regulation, and anyone with a long-term successful trading strategy does not have enough financial motivation in a copy/social trading environment.

But what a great marketing strategy copy/social trading has been for the brokerage firms and the companies that create the copy/social software.  Copy/social trading was an easy sell to the masses initially; you did not have to be a “trader” to get the results of a “trader”. By appealing to non-traders, it increased the size of the target market for the Margin Trading Products (“MTP”) industry as a whole. e-Toro seems to have created a community and become the standard for copy/social trading. They have the winning formula for growing a business; proprietary software, a growing community of users, and an increasing eco-system of companies that are surrounding e-Toro’s platform (which further cement’s e-Toro’s position at the center of copy/social trading). MetaQuotes has those three characteristics as well which is why they have been successful for so long despite competition with superior products.

So like most industries and products, one or two copy/social companies will emerge from the pack and go on to dominate the space for copy/social trading. It seems at this time e-Toro has the lead there. This agreement with SwipeStox & FXCM is part of the natural growth efforts of mature company such as FXCM. It may move the needle a bit for FXCM. If so, it is a big win for SwipeStox. Despite the setbacks from SNB and subsequent financing events, FXCM is still a dominating player in the MTP space and they need to always be searching for growth avenues.

The reason I bothered replying is that I agree that copy/social trading will soon fade (except at dedicated firms like e-Toro). So the questions is…..what is the next marketable product/service that the industry can grab onto? What will drive the next round of new users and traders to the industry?

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“News (?)” Broadcasts

I put on Fox News this morning at 6am.  I normally do not watch Fox News.  In the first 6 minutes I was absolutely disgusted with the way the three anchors fawned over the Republican National Convention, defended Melania Trump’s seemingly plagiarized speech, and praised Chris Christie’s public prosecution of Hilary Clinton.

I thought to myself….this is not news.  It is so clearly biased towards a particular political party and base of constituents.  I could not expect to get any unbiased facts out of this purported “news” broadcast.

So I decided to see what the competition was up to.  I changed the channel to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.  This show does not have the word “news” in the title, but their own description of the show is “…features interviews with top newsmakers and politicians, and in-depth analysis of the day’s biggest stories.”

And once again I was disgusted with the unbelievable bias that the show’s hosts had against Republicans, Trump, the RNC and everything associated with the right.  If not for the two guests from Bloomberg, who remained dignified and factual when they answered questions, the show would have seemed comical with it’s bias.

Large scale media in this country has an undue amount of influence on our population.  That is both a product of citizen’s passive nature, and the media’s insatiable appetite for filling 24 hour news cycles by pandering to our lowest common denominators.  It is easy to watch “news” that does not challenge your assumptions but merely feeds you what you already know and want to hear.  But as citizens and voters in a country of free press, we need to be better ourselves and demand more facts, less analysis and less bias in the information we take in.  A citizenry that does not think for itself is not a citizenry that will remain free forever.

How To End ISIS – JLM

I follow a blog from Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures.  One of his regular commentators is an interesting guy who goes by the handle of JLM and has his own interesting blog at www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com.  His comments about how to defeat ISIS are spot on.

From JLM

In the darkness is death. In the light is life.

It is the job of our leaders to patrol and defend the boundary between the darkness and the light. It is their primary duty.

ISIS is at the center of the darkness. Any organization which purports to exist as an organized entity has a leader. In this instance, the Caliph says they are a sovereign nation and hold territory to prove that premise to the world. They desire to administer their evil as a nation-state with revenue, taxes, and rules. This gives them substance and legitimacy.

The simple solution is to decapitate the leadership, deny them the organizing benefit of the ownership of land and the creation of revenue.

We know right where Abu Bakr al Baghdadi hangs his hat. Raqqa. We need to take Raqqa in a single violent act, destroy it in its entirety, hunt down and kill the Caliph, and make the world know that the light will no longer tolerate the existence of the darkness.

To those who say this is exactly what they want, I say — Don’t start a fight you cannot win which means we better be in it to win it. Turn the darkness into light with the flames of their demise.

Let ISIS recruit from a cemetery where their fighters are waiting, like cordwood, to be buried. Let every mother know that if her son chooses that path, the road leads to an early grave.

Disconnect them from the Internet.

Force the FEBA (forward edge of the battle area) into the Middle East and mark it with ISIS blood. The FEBA cannot be in Nice or Manhattan.

What will it take?

It will take leadership, national resolve, military action, and money. The quicker we do this, the lower the cost in blood and treasure.

This is not a clash of ideologies, though that is certainly one of the considerations. As a professional soldier, I never carried the Bible, never thought of myself as a Christian, never spent any time reading the Constitution. I did what I was told to do.

This is a clash between the minions of the darkness and the defenders of the light. They do not carry thought into battle, they carry people killing weapons.

The dipshits who execute this violence are not deep thinkers. They are hopeless misfits.

This is a confrontation between light and darkness. We need to set a fire in the middle of the darkness and turn it into light.

This week, Bashar Al Assad mocked Pres Obama’s resolve on defeating ISIS.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/wo…

That, unfortunately, is a true statement. It is the dark side of the mirror of leading from behind. We are the ones who have left the Middle East in chaos.

What are we likely to get? A speech from the President and nothing more because Al Assad is right — We currently do not possess the national resolve to bring the light into the darkness.

JLM

This Is Great!! Substituting Donald Trump for Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes

Full credit to someone named “Dr Forrester” on imagur.

I have always loved Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes because of the complete zaniness of his ideas and what comes out of his mouth.  Calvin is the perfect embodiment of a self-centered 6 year old.

And if these images of Donald Trump speaking Calvin’s words do not make you see how childish Trump really is, then life in the modern world is just going to get harder for you and your children.

Listening

David Jaxon found a good post on effective meetings and has an excerpt on his blog here:

https://davidjaxon.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/to-make-meetings-more-effective-learn-to-listen/

I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  Too many times, in a one-on-one discussion or a team meeting, people do not listen to one another and incorporate the information and analysis into their own thinking; they are just waiting for their turn to speak.

A friend told of an interesting event that really drives home the point about the benefits to all of actually listening to one another.

Setting: Campus panel of students discussion on the Israeli/Palestine issue(s)

For the first 20 minutes, the aged professor and audience of students listened to both sides shout and rage against the other side in 3 – 5 minutes bursts.  There was little cohesive discussion, specific topics were bounced around in no particular order, and there was a lot of emotions and name calling.

The professor then interrupted and told each “team” that they needed to take notes on what the other side of the panel was saying.  The panels of students on each side were perplexed because they all felt like they “knew” the other side’s arguments.  But the professor persisted and the students on the panel all agreed to take notes on the other sides arguments each time someone spoke.

The next 20 minutes of the panel were much more subdued.  The “listening” side of the panel at any given time was busy taking notes.  There were occasional requests to repeat a statement which sometimes flustered the speaker because the speaker had not necessarily thought about what they were saying; they were just spewing off.  The tone of the arguments became more focused on facts and analysis than on emotion.

After 20 mins the professor interrupted again.  Now, using the notes they had taken (and by default the listening they had done), the two sides of the panel were given the topics that were brought up in the first 20 minutes of heated yelling and raging.

Rather than emotional yelling with no discernible improvement in understanding or proposed solutions, there was rational discussion.  There was respect between the two sides of the panel.  They had the ability to stay on topic until some level of agreement (resolved or unresolved) was reached.  And civility ruled.

The professor’s point to his entire section had been made.  Active listening is a purposeful decision by the listener and the speaker.  If you are not actively listening, you are wasting your time and the speaker’s time.  A good meeting involves discussion around a topic or topics.  If you have invited others to speak at a meeting, but are not able to incorporate their information into your analysis and decision-making process, then you have failed at “meeting”.

 

 

Too Many Guns

What a terrible week for the US.  A number of issues that surround law enforcement have come to a head in a tragic week.

The fatal shootings of two black men in Minnesota (Philando Castile) and Louisiana (Alton Sterling) by policemen have been captured on videos posted to social media for all to see.  In both cases the black men were armed which should rightly make police officers much more concerned for their personal safety.  But from what is publicly known at this time, neither man went for their weapon, and in the case of Philando Castile, he was reaching for his license to carry as had been requested by the officer who then shot him.  This is outrageous behavior by a supposed trained, professional police force.

And now Dallas.  A peaceful protest of the two above shootings turned into an assassination of Dallas police officers (5 dead, 6 wounded at this time) by multiple suspects using automatic weapons.

There are important issues of race that play a large part in all of these incidents.  But the recurring theme is guns.  Handguns on the persons of the two black men fatally shot by police officers; automatic weapons in the hands of the Dallas assassins.

Guns.  Guns.  Guns.

I believe in the 2nd amendment.  I believe that a population has the right to bear arms for two reasons.  The first is attack by outside enemies of the state in which an armed population is a deterrent and resistance towards the outside attackers.  The second case is the rare case that the citizens need to rise up and forcefully take back power from a government that has abducted power from those citizens.  Though a preferred method of ensuring a government entity does not take too much power from the people it serves is by the citizens taking an active part in politics and the political process.

I am not a weapons expert but in neither of those cases are hand guns or automatic weapons necessary.

If anyone has a rational, scientific argument that the number of and easy access to guns in this country had benefited anyone other than the gun manufacturers, I am willing to listen.  But until I hear a valid argument in favor of guns, I remain convinced that the US as a country and society is worse off due to the prevalence of guns.