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CHF Pairs Volatility – a Blessing and a Curse

Jan 19, 2015 11:29 pm
analyst75 User

Antworten: 128
Member since: 22/11/2014

“It’s futile to call the trade before it happens. One can never know beforehand if a trade is going to be a day trade, a short term trade of days or weeks or a long term trade of weeks up to months. Every trade develops from the embryonic stage of the smallest form on the smallest time scale.”– Dirk Vandycke



How It Started

On September 2011, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) made a decision to put a peg at the 1.2000 level on EUR/CHF. They did so because they wanted to stabilize the export industry and the whole economy. It meant that EUR wasn’t allowed to reach parity with CHF, unlike other CHF pairs. That previous support level was referred to as a great floor, and the SNB would keep on purchasing vast amounts of Euros to preclude it from depreciating against Swiss Francs.


In the year 2011, EURCHF was below the level 1.2000. In fact, EURCHF plummeted by more than 2800 pips that year, reaching a low of 1.0069. After the peg was effected, the cross jumped upwards above the level 1.2000. In the year 2012, price became very weak, but it was unable to close below the level at 1.2000. Any time price went below the level, it would jump above the level again.


In the year 2013, price was able to trade upwards noticeably, owing to the strength in the Euro. Price was able to move upwards by over 500 pips, reaching a high of 1.2648. In the year 2014, price trended downwards in a slow and steady manner until it reached the floor at 1.2000 again at the end of that year. Many saw this as a peerless opportunity to buy EURCHF cross.


EURCHF then looked like ‘an unfair’ market in which everybody could make money.  It was like a market in which everybody could harness huge gains, and certain lovers of risk might be willing to risk a huge part of their portfolios. Many thought it was stupid go short on EURCHF, since there was a “guarantee” that the cross would eventually go up, just like interest rates in some developed countries, which some thought had nowhere to go expect upwards. Some didn’t even know that interest rate could be made negative.  The only thing that could render the scenario useless was when the peg was removed – which the SNB was unwilling to do then.


January 15, 2015 – Magnificent Earthquakes in the Markets

Nevertheless, it was getting more and more expensive for the SNB to defend the peg. A central bank would need a very deep pocket to keep on doing that for a long time. The SNB reserves increased to a record high and the outlook on Euro was becoming more and more gloomy. It was clear that holding onto that floor was illogical. On January 15, 2015, the SNB suddenly removed the peg and decreased the interest rate further into the negative territory. The trading world was taken by surprise. Some traders made huge profits and losses. Only those who didn’t trade CHF pairs weren’t seriously affected.


USDCHF dropped by 2800 pips.

EURCHF dropped by 3300 pips

GBPCHF dropped by 4300 pips

CADCHF dropped by 1500 pips

CHFJPY rallied by 6900 pips

NZDCHF dropped by 1500 pips

AUDCHF dropped by 1500 pips


These moves were unprecedented! A daily candle was as long as a human arm! While it is normal for a pair/cross to experience a directional movement of thousands of pips within several days, weeks or months, it’s not normal for a pair/cross to move so much in a single day. The market is like a rubber band, if it moves to far in one direction, you should expect it to snap back in the opposite direction. Thus there were significant corrections on that day alone.


Neither the SNB nor the markets can be blamed for this: a central bank has the right to do what they want with their currency. In addition, the markets conditions that brought losses to some were the same conditions that brought profits for some. Good risk managers suffer negligible loss when caught on the wrong side of the market, and they make commendable gains when they’re caught on the right side.


Lessons for Gamblers

I know someone who made a profit of 7,000,000 Euros in 2 hours. Someone who funded his account with 100 dollars and was using 0.1 lots made 2600% returns in a single day. Someone who funded his account with 1000 dollars and traded with 0.5 lots came home from work and saw an account balance of over 10,000 dollars. Many brokers now need to pay their clients gargantuan amounts of profits.


If you made huge profits here, like several hundreds of percentage of profits, it was only a matter of luck; and no trader can experience permanent success based on pure luck.  Good traders are those who survive adverse market conditions, not only those who make big money from the markets.


On the other hand, many traders received margin calls or lost most part of their portfolios. Imagine someone using 60.0 lots on a 1,000,000 pounds account. Needless to say, the money was lost immediately. Certain brokers were badly affected (though most brokers were unaffected). I deeply empathize with those who were badly affected.


I was also affected, for I was holding two long positions on EURCHF and NZDCHF, but I suffered only -1.2% losses in total. My loss should be only 1% on the 2 trades, but you know, slippage. Stops will forever be our life insurance policy. If you follow the advice of those who don’t use stops, your losses can’t be their responsibility.


Do you remember the May 6, 2010 Flash Crash? Do you remember the earthquake in Japan, which occurred on March 11, 2011, plus the nuclear disaster that followed? Do you know the effects they had on the markets? Do you know how traders were affected and what happened following massive drops in prices? These should serve as lessons against the Gambler’s Fallacy. Unfortunately, many people seemed not to learn their lesson.


Overconfidence is definitely not a good thing.


As you can see, whether you trade with fundamental or technical analysis or combine both, you don’t know what the market will do next and you can’t be always right. Even those who prognosticated that the peg would be removed didn’t know when exactly it would be.  When things go wrong, only risk control will help you, not your knowledge of technical or fundamental things. It’s better to focus on what we can control – our winners and losers.


It’s not the best to sacrifice permanent success for short-term greed. Those who appear stupid by doing the right things would eventually be proven to be prudent. 


When I recommend the risk of 0.5% per trade, most people ignore me. In fact, you’d hardly see someone using only 0.1 lots on a $20,000 dollars account or 0.5 lots on a $100,000 dollars account. They think it’s too illogical and conservative, playing down my warning that the safety of our portfolios are more important that the profits we want to make. Large losses are extremely difficult to recover and therefore, they should be avoided at all costs. The most guaranteed setup in the world can’t make me risk more than 0.5% on any of my future trades.


I’ve been an advocate of permanent success, but it can’t be achieved by those who use large position sizes. Leverage isn’t a problem, but an irrational use of leverage is the problem. Leverage is a boon to risk managers who know how to control their losses and profits.


Next Directions on CHF Pairs

The SNB might still try to keep the CHF undervalued and they may explore another means of doing so. Opportunities to go long arose when prices decline towards ridiculously abnormal levels. These kinds of movements in a single day are extremely spectacular, and therefore, current CHF pairs’ prices are bound to get corrected in the long run and things would return to normal in a matter of weeks. For instance, when USDCHF dropped like a stone, EURUSD ought to spike skywards, since they are negatively correlated in a normal condition. The latter was not affected, and both pairs cannot remain bearish for a long time (and Greenback is strong in its own right). USDCHF would, therefore, move upwards by at least, 500 pips this month or next month. 


These kinds of markets offer unique opportunities to assume contrarian positions. At the end of January 15, 2015, I went long on EURCHF, USDCHF, AUDCHF, NZDCHF, GBPCHF and CADCHF (selling short CHFJPY), using a position size of 0.1 lots for each $20,000. I target 500 pips on each trade. I’d hold these long positions for weeks or months – until all the targets are met. I won’t make use of breakeven or trailing stops this time around because I want to create enough leeway for the high volatility in the markets, while I enjoy the free ride.


The bearish pair and crosses cannot remain bearish forever. The CHF markets are expected to correct themselves gradually until things become normal. As some bask in the euphoria of windfall and others lick their wound, we shouldn’t forget the lessons we learn from the CHF pairs volatility, which were a blessing and a curse.


This piece is ended with the quote below:


“If you trade at a size that’s nearly meaningless, there will be very little emotions involved. However, if you are taking on big risks you will make emotional mistakes.”– Dave Landry