Getting to zero: standing still or making progress

A year or so ago, I was talking to a former colleague, who had also retired from the IMF. He is now a consultant. We met and had coffee in his office in Georgetown. It was well set up, with a nice desk with a desktop and a laptop on another round table. He had a nice big TV, and it was tuned to CNBC. In his time, he had also done some day trading. He asked me how I had been doing. I told him that I was breaking even. “Doing it for fun, then,” he replied.

Just last week, a well-seasoned professional trader commented that he thinks the objective for new traders should be to not lose money. It’s a hard thing to do as a profession, but as a business, you need to take it seriously and put yourself in the best position you can.

Sometimes, apparently moving nowhere is really a good measure of success. It can depend on how you get there.

Objectives need to be clear and, sometimes, it is more important that these be kept realistic than grandiose and hard to achieve.

I’m a qualified soccer coach and have become proficient at several sports, including squash. I always remember trying to make things achievable for new players, especially if they are very young. Bouncing the ball on the knee once is good; twice in succession is very good; three times in succession is really exceptional. Similar with bouncing a ball on the strings of a racket, though the number of repetitions will be higher. The look on a child’s face as he or she manages to make these realistic goals is always so pleasing.

So, whether I regard breaking even as having fun or a merely realistic objective for a relative newcomer, I’ll try to stick to that.


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
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