Eyes Wide Open

By: Erik Swarts | Mon, May 9, 2011
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As a geologist, I can appreciate the fundamental underpinnings that make up the energy and metal components of the CRB Index. The arcs of exploration, field-development and resource quality.

For the most part, there is a neat set of equations and analytics that can elegantly distill where the resources can likely be found, how much they will roughly cost to get out of the ground and what quality they will be once they are exploited.

The variable has always been how much the market will yield for these assets - and there is absolutely no mathematical formula that can explain the market's rationale for valuing a commodity one week at X and the next week at X(.70) (yes - that is last weeks formula for silver). The efficient market theorists can keep their tin foil hats on as a fashion statement, but once you fold human emotion into the formula - all bets are off.

Figure 1

It is why causation is typically such a fools game when painting the fundamental picture of an asset class (broadly speaking, i.e equity, bonds and commodities). A white paper's methodology of explaining the fundamental virtues of a certain market (not relevant to individual stocks) is often times overly verbose and irrelevant to price. Certainly there are times in the cycle where fundamental analysis is more than helpful with establishing ones position in the market. But for the vast part of the price continuum, its a diminishing angle of relevance.

As a trader and investor - you absolutely need to throw another axis down and establish the technical picture. Without it, your viewpoint is basically a monoscopic reference, rather than a three-dimensional perspective. You are essentially limited to one eye without peripheral vision.

What is interesting about many money managers today is that they started their careers in the benevolent boom times of the late1980's and 1990's. The fundamental story worked for their respective investing thesis' more out of luck in the cycle (i.e Malcom Gladwell's Outliers) than prescience.

The fundamental perspective just became the easiest pill to swallow and present to investors.


I just joined Twitter. All my trades and occasional market musings are disclosed in real-time here.

(Position in AGQ, UUP)



Erik Swarts

Author: Erik Swarts

Erik Swarts
Market Anthropology

Although I am an active trader, I have always taken a broad perspective when approaching the markets. I respect the Big Picture and attempt to place each piece of information within its appropriate context and timeframe. I have found that without this approach, there is very little understanding of ones expectations in the market and an endless potential for risk.

I am not a stock picker - but trade the broader market itself in varying timeframes. I want to know which way the prevailing wind is blowing, where the doldrums can be expected and where the shoals will likely rise. I will not claim to know which vessel is the fastest or most comfortable for passage - but I can read the charts and know the risks.

I am not a salesperson for the market and its many wares. I observe it, contextualize its moving parts - both visible and discrete - and interpret.

I practice Market Anthropology - Welcome to my notes.

Erik Swarts is not a registered investment advisor. Under no circumstances should any content be used or interpreted as a recommendation for any investment, trade or approach to the markets. Trading and investing can be hazardous to your wealth. Any investment decisions must in all cases be made by the reader or by his or her registered investment advisor. This is strictly for educational and informational purposes only. All opinions expressed by Mr. Swarts are subject to change without notice, and the reader should always obtain current information and perform their own due diligence before making any investment or trading decision.

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