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Predatory Trading and Crowded Exits

In ‘Predatory Trading and Crowded Exits’ Clunie tries to explain some of the reasons trades don’t always perform as you expect or as computer or analytical models suggest they should.

As someone who trades long-short fund for a large institution, Clunie understands that the reality of the markets is very different from the theory. In this book he explains a series of market phenomena that can influence markets in ways that would have been hard to predict using past data or theoretical methods.

Clunie explains predatory trading, whereby traders exploit others’ weaknesses in order to move markets. For example, if traders become aware of margin calls they might try to drive the price of the contract against those who have received the call in order to cause more pain, and possibly drive them to exit.

Crowded exits occur when many (weak) traders are positioned the same way and, as the market moves against them, they all head for the exit together, causing the market to move even further away.

Short selling is studied in some depth, because the mechanics of entering, managing and exiting short trades can be very variable. As someone who has traded heavily from the short side in my career, I completely concur with Clunie’s views.

Clunie discusses his topics (there are more than the two I have mentioned) using both real market situations and academic research. The result is an interesting book that I suggest retail traders need to read.

The book goes some way to explaining why trading is so tough and why there are serious flaws to trading techniques based on technical and fundamental analysis. The markets simply do not operate in the ways that both technical and fundamental analysts suggest. For retail traders in particular, who do not get to see the real trading world, there is a definite need to learn how markets really work.

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