How to beat a high frequency trader

The madness around trading the tweeting of Trump has jumped the tracks and landed itself among ordinary investors across the country. The new game seems to be trying to anticipate which industry he’ll target next and somehow make money from the volatility in the related stocks. Or, perhaps worse, to trade the reaction after a tweet hits home. The naïveté here is adorable.

In the first place, there are algos specifically set up to pick up on these tweets and errant remarks in seconds, with trades pre-sized and planned, ready to execute immediately. Is this the game you want to play from the Fidelity app while you’re at a stop light?

Realistically, you may nail a trade or two from this kind of thing, but I wouldn’t be planning to retire from it. It’ll go away. Remember the Carl Icahn tweets about Apple? That was fun for a few months.

I gave my two cents to the Los Angeles Times on the topic. I have a few quotes in here…

When Trump tweets, Wall Street trades — instantly (Los Angeles Times) 

A better game to play might be to figure out how much you’ll need to spend over the coming decades, work out the math on what sorts of returns you’ll need, include things like vacations, taxes, charitable giving, catastrophic health care (knock on wood), any inheritance you’d like to leave behind, any insurance strategies you can employ to lessen the tax burden on your heirs, etc, etc. Then work out what sort of portfolio will give you the clearest, most optimized and least stressful route to arriving at these financial destinations.

This is a game you can actually win. And if you need help with the answers to these questions, tell us. We all only have so much time on this earth, and nothing is a given. How much of it do we want to spend speculating on the 3am tweets of a consummate showman?

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