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Taking Stock of Japan

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Barry at the Tokyo Stock Exchange

I just returned from an absolutely amazing trip to the beautiful country of Japan.

If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it.

It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people.

My family and I were fortunate to enjoy 15 days there traveling around the country seeing the ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, Hiroshima (a must stop for everyone), the big cities, the engaging countryside, and of course, the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

I came away from the country with many impressions.

First, there is much less crime than the US. We could walk through downtown Tokyo at midnight with our children and never feel threatened.

Second, even the big cities are virtually litter free … yet they have no public trash cans! What a contrast to the US where we have trash cans on every block, yet the streets are burdened with litter.

Third, they are a very, very polite people. We only encountered one rude person, and after that experience, another Japanese man immediately came up to us and apologized on behalf of the country! Actually that one encounter occurred on the plane while we were still on American soil.

Fourth, the Japanese people are very, very hard working – and even when they have fulfilled their obligation, they are looking for what more they can do. The service we received was the best we’ve had anywhere … and yet they won’t accept tips!

Fifth, the culture is very much enamoured with anything “cute.” They love everything from Hello Kitty to my favorite: “Happy Monkey Babies.”

It’s such a wonderful country, and we met so many fantastic people there, that I miss it already.

As mentioned, we also visited the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).

Tokyo Stock Exchange CircleThe TSE is one of the 3 largest stock markets, on par with New York and London. Trillions of of yen are traded every day.

Don’t go there expecting to witness the frenzy of floor traders you’ll find in New York or Chicago. The TSE was one of the first stock exchanges in the world to computerize trading, which it began in 1982 and moved to full computerization in 1999. Like most things technological, Japan is ahead of us and we’re playing a bit of catch up.

Not only does it trade stocks, but the TSE also trades options and futures.

Tokyo Stock ExchangeWalking into the TSE is akin to walking into an library. There are very few people and it’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

There’s an almost haunting absence of human presence in the vast open spaces now that computers have taken over most of the work. Even the slightest whisper bounces off the walls and makes your conversation public.

The main floor houses a huge glass wall circle, inside of which are a small group of people sitting in front of their computers.

Hello Kitty Stock CertificateOff to the side are broadcast booths to televise the events of the day.

It is run like everything in Japan – with pride in it’s methodical and precise operation. Very, very impressive indeed.

We didn’t get any souvenirs while we were there (I hoped they might give out free stock to visitors, but no such luck), but we did get to see an original stock certificate of the company that markets the famous Hello Kitty, so that alone was worth the trip.

TSE MascotSpeaking of Japan’s enjoyment of everything cute, even the TSE has it’s own mascot (see the picture in this post) which was my daughter’s favorite part of the visit to the exchange.

Feel free to click on the pictures to enlarge them and get a better view.

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NEW ANNOUNCEMENT:

I’ve added a new, free web site on day trading. It contains 3 articles I’ve never posted anywhere else. You’re welcome to go visit it now and enjoy those articles. I only ask that you leave a comment and give me a “thumbs up” rating if you liked it (just above the section that has people’s comments).

You can get the free day trading articles here:

http://hubpages.com/hub/daytrading

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Good Questions From Beginning Day Traders and Swing Traders

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I get a lot of the same questions from new traders, and they are very, very good ones.

So I decided to go ahead and post some resources for you “newbies” to get your answers. This way not only can you get the answers to the questions you’re asking me, but you’ll also have the resources to find answers to other questions that may come up in the future.

Disclosure: I recommend the resources below because I feel they are of great value, but I want you to know that I am a compensated affiliate with Amazon.com for all the books listed, INO TV and Trading Mind.

Here are some of the most common questions I receive from new traders:

1. MOVING AVERAGES: What are they and how are they calculated?

A great resource for these questions: Stockcharts.com Chart School

Go there and click the letter of the term you’re looking up, or type it into the “Search the Site” at the top left of the navigation bar.

2. ORDERS:

  • What is a market order?
  • What is a limit order?
  • What is a stop ?
  • What is a stop limit?

A great resource for these questions: Stockcharts.com Glossary

Go there and click the letter of the term you’re looking up, or type it into the “Search the Site” at the top left of the navigation bar.

3. WHAT IS A GOOD BOOK FOR BEGINNERS TO LEARN THE BASICS OF TECHNICAL ANALYSIS?

I’ve had good feedback from new traders on “Technical Analysis for Dummies.”

4. WHAT TRADING COURSES DO YOU RECOMMEND?

Of course I like my own courses the best! You can read all about them here: Top Dog Trading Courses.

Beyond that, INO TV is an incredible value. For a very, very low price you get access to video trading seminars from some of the biggest names in trading without having to pay for each course.

5. WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR CHARTING SOFTWARE, BROKERS, ETC.?

Visit my Recommended Resources page where I list all of these.

6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TRADING BOOK?

High Probability Trading” by Marcel Link

7. I NEED HELP WITH TRADING PSYCHOLOGY. WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND?

“Trading Mind” hypnosis CD-ROM by Jake Bernstein

Trading in the Zone” by Mark Douglas

8. WHERE CAN I GET FREE DAILY CHARTS?

Stockcharts.com

9. WHAT ARE THE BEST TIME (CHART) INTERVALS FOR TRADING?I’ve addressed this in detail in 2 former posts in my blog. You can view them here:

What is the Best Interval for Day Trading?

and here:

What is the Best Interval for Day Trading? Part 2.

10.  WHAT ARE GOOD RESOURCES WHERE I LOOK UP WORDS AND TERMS ABOUT THE MARKETS TO LEARN MORE?

ChartSchool

Investopedia

InvestorWords

I hope you find these resources helpful.

Happy Trades!

Current Stock Market Conditions for Investing

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Thank you everyone for all of the warm responses and well-wishes in response to my last blog post regarding my recent health challenges. I’m overwhelmed by the pages and pages of kind emails, and even flowers and gifts that came in the mail!

It means the world to me to know that I’ve made a positive impact on so many of you that you would share such kindness.

OK, enough of the mushy stuff! How about a new free video? Click below and enjoy.

Click to Play

Pundits are arguing if we’re in a bull or bear market, and when you can know that the market is turning around.

I don’t find much use for their theories, but do find great help in using technical analysis for the stock market, forex and futures. Both for day trading and swing trading.

In this video we look at the long-term structure of the market.

He’s Alive!

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It’s been a long time since my last entry.

As I read through other people’s blogs I find that comment a lot. Seems like most bloggers go through periods where they have difficulty posting on a consistent basis.

But I have a good reason:

I almost had my “good day to die.”

Last month I found I had coronary artery disease. After a frightening episode at home, I went to the hospital where they discovered that one of my arteries was 99% blocked. So they performed angioplasty and inserted a stent.

It’s a common practice today, and less invasive than the bypass surgery my Dad had to endure.

But after returning home, I developed excruciating pain in my right flank. So I was back in the hospital within 24 hours.

The pain I experienced was beyond description. The nurse asked me to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10. At first it was a 9. Then it catapulted to 10,000!

At first the doctors thought it was a kidney stone, but after a scan they found that I had a growth on my right kidney.

I found myself being transferred to the oncology unit.

Two cardiologists came into my room together (not a good sign) to explain with grim faces that after the heart procedure I was on blood thinning medication and couldn’t have surgery to remove the mass on my kidney … and they couldn’t halt the medication for at least a year without risking further heart problems. They weren’t sure what to do.

Now I was scared.

I’m only 49 years old. My parents both lived well into their 80s. And with all the advances in medical technology in recent years, and in the years to come, I had planned on living to be at least 100.

The doctors called in a specialist who proceeded to conduct more tests on me. This went on for a couple days during which I had plenty of time to stare at the ceiling and reevaluate my life.

  • Am I happy and proud of my life?
  • Did I fulfill my purpose on earth?
  • Did I make a difference?
  • How many people would say their life is better because I was here?
  • If I’m given more time, how would I use it?

Gladly the story has a happy ending.

Tests revealed that the growth on my kidney is an inert and benign cyst. My doctors will keep watching me, but at this time it doesn’t pose a threat.

So they sent me home.

I was utterly exhausted and could barely get around. The heart procedure, and the intense kidney pain had sucked all the energy out of my body. I was also now on a hand full of medicines each day, many of which said “may cause drowsiness.” I was back home … but in a wheel chair.

Then unbelievably, a few days later, the kidney pain returned. But this time it was even worse than the first time (I didn’t think it was possible).

I couldn’t get out of bed, so my wife called an ambulance.

The trip to the hospital was absolutely excruciating as I could feel every bump the ambulance drove over (they should put luxury suspensions in those things).

There was no doctor in the emergency room, so I was given no pain medicine and just suffered for hours in absolute agony.

When a doctor finally arrived, he had a scan conducted and said I had passed a kidney stone (again?). However the specialist later said it may have blood clots.

I was sent home and have stayed out of the hospital since then.

I’m getting my strength back and doing some walking around the neighborhood now (with my new dog “Hero”).

What does all this have to do with trading?

First, I just wanted to let you know what’s been going on with me on a personal level and why I haven’t posted to my blog for over a month.

Second, as I reevaluated my life during this traumatic time, I realized that I don’t regret being involved in this wonderful industry at all. In fact it has been a wonderful blessing.

When most people think of the trading profession, they think of making money. That’s fine, and that should be part of your plan.

But it’s not just about the greenbacks. It’s about being able to enjoy your life. And for me, I enjoy trading so much that I would do it even if there were no money involved!

I’m very fortunate to have found a profession that I love so much. It’s truly a passion of mine. I enjoy everything about it – teaching, learning, reading, sharing, and of course, the actual trading itself.

I contrast my feelings with so many who come to trading with purely a financial motive. They’re only interested in trading as a way of making money … and if they don’t profit quickly, then they quit it completely and move on to another money-making endeavor.

When I decided to pursue trading as a career, my attitude was not that I would try it, or see if it would work, or “give it a year.” I simply decided that I WAS going to be a professional trader … no matter what it took.

That type of commitment is not possible, indeed not even appropriate, unless you’re committing to something that you truly love.

Here’s to hoping I have many more years to share my passion with you.