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AdirondackFund (< 20)

Sloooooooo ........CAPS



November 12, 2009 – Comments (16)

Trade executions at CAPS are clearly vintage 1975.  I have had three trades pending for the last hour and a half and none of them have least according to CAPS.  Two of the three trades are closes on short positions, DSX and PGPDR.PK.  The other trade is a new short on GMCR, and even though the stock has traded 6.5 million shares, CAPS can't seem to get the handle on the execution for the past hour.  I haven't traded like this since...well, at least 1975. 

Let's talk about how 'good' an indicator CAPS really is when time critical executions take between an hour to two hours.  How reliable a yardstick could this enterprise really be with such an incredible sluggishness to ALL of the trades.  Why is it so slow?  Does the speed of the trade have anything to do with the quality of the trader himself, or is that a representation of something entirely different?  Why would anyone trade anything at CAPS in a wild market?  How could you even be certain where entry points and exit points should be when they are constantly an hour or two late?

How does any of this reflect well on The Motley Fool to begin with, or those who score well or poorly here.  If you are going to build a system for paper trading that is entirely reduced to a crap shoot, then why not just say so and be done with it.  As we all know, trades in real life take an instant....not that I'm asking for that from CAPS, but certainly we should do better than 1 to 2 hours can't we?  Or am I simply being too optimistic? 

16 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 12, 2009 at 2:58 PM, FreeMarkets (40.49) wrote:

I closed (or should I say TRIED to close) two picks at 10 am and both are still open.  One went from up by 6 pts to only up by 5.1 pts (and I wasn't sure if it would close above 5pts, so I cancelled it).

Very frustrating, since I'm trying to close my leveraged short positions in a down market.

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#2) On November 12, 2009 at 3:00 PM, TMFJake (90.20) wrote:

Assuming quotes are coming in, trades should execute in ~20 minutes?  I'll check to see if we are having issues with our quotes provider.  Sorry for the inconvenience. :(

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#3) On November 12, 2009 at 3:04 PM, AdirondackFund (< 20) wrote:

Thanks Jake.  It's been hours waiting.

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#4) On November 12, 2009 at 3:07 PM, AdirondackFund (< 20) wrote:

Hey Jake, I just pulled two of the trades because their value has now fallen below 5 points.  2 hours ago, they were both up 7 points.  I guess I'll just have to expect to GET LUCKY or something with these trades, now that they've been botched by my broker. 

I'm having a Yogi Berra moment here.  It's 1975 all over again. 

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#5) On November 12, 2009 at 3:20 PM, TSIF (99.97) wrote:

Jake, the system is off today.

When we did the time shift it was off also, I guessed the MF servers were on the wrong timezone for awhile.  It had been much better the last week until today.  I've missed some good ops as well.  Overall, besides the 20 minute wait window, which we are not suppose to think too much about.....:)   the system is usually more responsive. I have them waiting to open and close today if you need a profile to use to debug.


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#6) On November 12, 2009 at 3:21 PM, Tastylunch (28.67) wrote:

Me too Jake, just posted about ti on the Beta feedback board


this has been happening to me a lot last two months.

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#7) On November 12, 2009 at 3:31 PM, ChrisGraley (28.64) wrote:

I've only noticed it for the last couple of days.

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#8) On November 12, 2009 at 3:37 PM, TMFJake (90.20) wrote:

Techies are working on it.  Thanks again!

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#9) On November 12, 2009 at 3:54 PM, AdirondackFund (< 20) wrote:

Thanks again Jake.  If there's a problem, don't worry, we'll speak up.  

Fool on!

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#10) On November 12, 2009 at 4:59 PM, TMFJake (90.20) wrote:

:) I know you will.  There is a bug and we're zeroing in on it.


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#11) On November 12, 2009 at 5:12 PM, TigerPack1 (33.32) wrote:

I was hoping to at least get the closing values for today.  Is this still possible?

I will be traveling tomorrow and won't have time to "fool" with this game.

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#12) On November 12, 2009 at 5:23 PM, TSIF (99.97) wrote:

They did close 3 that I had set to close all day long.  None of my opens took. My guess is that it's 5PM Washington DC time, and any opens that you had will reset and not activate until tomorrow if they are a blind open, or when they meet your limit if you missed the window as I did on a couple.  A few nice pops I could have downthumbed, but overall their uptimes is excellent.  Unless you run an airline, deliver safe water, run a drugstore, or deal in real money, then 99% would be "good enough" so I guess it should be on a "free game"...(although I contend that we pay for it with our dialogue and fun spirit that attracts more users and more advertisers!).  :)

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#13) On November 12, 2009 at 8:54 PM, Eudemonic (60.02) wrote:

I was reading Dick and Jane in 1975, what happend then, tradingwise, to make it a Yogi revisit?

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#14) On November 13, 2009 at 9:56 AM, TMFJake (90.20) wrote:

We think we have this bug licked, although we're continuing to do some optimizations--famous last words I know.

Let me know if any of you see any more problems.  Thanks!

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#15) On November 13, 2009 at 3:36 PM, AdirondackFund (< 20) wrote:

Hey Jake.  The problem of today is score calculations.  I have noticed that today's score has INCREASED (green) 78 points, but the cumulative score has DECREASED (red) 78 points.  Is there any particular reason why this always seems to occur shortly after I have pointed out a problem at either The Motley Fool or with Goldman Sachs?  My cumulative score is completely incorrect and has been for some years now.  Perhaps you could have someone look into this?

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#16) On November 13, 2009 at 4:54 PM, AdirondackFund (< 20) wrote:

@ Eudemonic

Trading in 1975 was a very dicey affair, to be sure.  For starters, there were thousands of Equities Brokers.  My favorite was 'Hornblower, Weeks, Noyes & Trask'  soon to become taken over by Sandy Weill and renamed simply 'Shearson, Lehman, Loeb, Rhoades, Hornblower, Weeks, Noyes & Trask', a mouthful to be sure, and which obviously had to be shortened somewhat becoming simply 'Shearson, Loeb, Rhodes' until then becoming simply 'Shearson'.  And you think things are a mess in the Brokerage business these days?  I kid you not, these guys used a lot of ink just printing envelopes with the names of their firms.  Sadly, the only name in the list which interested me was Hornblower, being a fan of Capt. Horatio Hornblower as a kid.  The idea of Hornblower being associated with other names like 'Weeks', "Noyes" and 'Trask' struck me both as kind of funny and revelatory, the market being then filled with 'weaks', 'noise' and 'trask', just as it is these days. There was also the lineage of the whole thing, Hornblower being an original descendent from Boston and a Mayflower guy, one of the original families that began on Plimouth Plantation.  Luckily for us, Sandy Weill destroyed all of that Heritage in a bloodless corporate coup.

The other thing about trading in 1975 was the issue of executions and fees.  No Wall St. Broker ever published a rate card.  Life was much simpler in those days.  They merely looked at how much you earned and decided for themselves how much they wanted to charge you for executing the trade.  If you earned $300 on a trade ( a good sum in those days, easily equal to $3,000 these days) they would simply decide to take $149.95 to sell the position, after already charging you $79.95 to place the order in the first place.  Everyone back in those days was a buy and hold investor simply because there was no telling how much you would be charged in commissions to sell the bloody shares.  So, rather than paying your Broker, you just kept the shares and took your investment money someplace else...usually that meant into the general economy, which was a lot stronger than anything we are seeing today.

Executions were a trip to the twilight zone.  You would call your Broker, who would first argue with you about what you wanted to buy, instead preferring to get you into Agency stocks which they were always trying to unload.  These Agency stocks were the most incredible fly-by-night kinds of things.  Companies that claimed they could turn ocean water into drinking water...that kind of thing.  My argument was always the same 'Who Cares'?  Get me some J&J quick before it goes up again. 

About an hour later, your Broker would call you back and give you the bad news.  The stock had rallied 3 points in that time and but they were able to get you that many shares, in an always heroic effort, reminiscent of Capt. Horatio Hornblower himself.  Of course, by the end of the day, the stock was now down three points and you were underwater, commissions included.  The spreads were always 1/4 between bid and ask, thus enabling the Specialist to make hand over fist on each and every transaction.  They were completely unapologetic about the whole thing too, just as Goldman Sachs is today in looting the US Treasury, and then running the place as well.

It was fun though, and when electronic trading came in, I hooked up with a guy named Harvey Houtkin who was known in the day as the SOES bandit and we cooked up some incredible scemes for outracing markets and Specialists and did remarkably well.  Electronics and computers were new then and the deaf and dumb Specialists hadn't exactly mastered the streamlining of quotes between manual and electronic, so we would send orders from multiple directions confusing the hell out of the man, while lifting his wallet at the same time.  They were so stunned by the activity and the speed of the whole thing that it took them a long while to figure out how to defend against it.  Finally they decided it was a Clearing function and went into securities clearing to try and control order flow to one tube instead of multiple tubes and avenues, the problem for them at the time.  We literally would come from all 50 states and other markets at once so as not to be easily traceable. In those days you could trade equities from Philadelphia, Chicago, San Fransisco, each with their own time zones, and habits accordingly.  It was lunchtime for 3 consecutive hours somewhere in America, so we would play that as well, trading out at the end of the day in places like San Fran, which was always closed an hour later, after the NYSE closed.

My favorite scams were in the Oil Markets of the 1970's.  I wasn't involved in them myself, but there were some rather prominent Italian American Gentlemen who saw the wisdom of blowing up tankers in Port Elizabeth NJ, shooting oil spills in the area, and driving Oil Futures higher, and always after markets were closed when floor traders were defenseless to the news.

The Cops weren't any better then than they are now.  As my Dad used to say all the time "Always a step ahead of The Sheriff'...and 'Vote early, vote often', the old Tammany Hall Credo.  It was the wild west of trading, but always a lot of fun and never a dull moment.           

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