Asked by “Bedford”
Can somebody explain Futures Trading to me in the most simple terms?
I am a novice in the Stock Market arena but need to understand how futures work.
Well I hope this is a school assignment because “futures” is no place for novices. Futures Trading is nothing more than a prediction of what value something will have in the future. For fun, watch the Eddie Murphy – Dan Akkroyd movie “trading places”. You basically predict as in the movie the future value of Orange Juice and you place one or more bets on it. If you’re right, you make gobs of money. If you’re wrong, you end up like the Duke Brothers … broke. Novice investors are like babies on the interstate. It’ll be disaster and quickly.
You have certain gooferment enforced protections, but don’t depend upon them to keep your money safe. In order to open a futures trading account, you will have to jump thru some hurdles. Your broker can be held liable if you can NOT pay for your losses (You can go to jail! They have to make good.) or if you are deemed “unsuitable” to play in that market (You get an nasty letter; they pay big big bux).
Assuming that you can deposit enough credits with the brokerage, you’ll be admitted to the “big casino”. I say casino advisedly because other than certain specific occasions, you’ll get a better deal at the casino of your choice. The casino will at least buy you dinner when you play.
Futures Trading is appropriate for the average schmo, (that includes me), for example, when you are given options by your employer and you wish to lock in your gains. As your employer in BIGBIZ who shares sell at a penny, I grant you an option to buy 10,000 shares at a dollar each in December. BIGBIZ is “discovered” by Wall Street and the stock zooms over night from a penny to $300. Shazam, you could be rich if it stays there until December. You being a smart fellow say “Hey good enough for me. May I have my profit now?” No, you have to wait until December. So you sell a CALL OPTION giving some one the right to buy your 10,000 shares for $3,000,000. Note, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the full $300 because the buyer is taking a risk. So let’s guess that you can get $1.5M. So the question is “deal or no deal”. The only diff is it is your real money you are playing with. AND, you have taxes to consider. Only a lawyer and an accountant can sacrifice the right number of chickens to read the entrails and divine the tax status of your transaction. AND, guess what the rules will be going forward. My opinion would be that you’d have to pay ordinary income on the whole shebang but what the heck. You’d come out on the other side with $750k. Lest you think that this is fiction. I have friend who had 40$ options on a stock priced at $120 who decide to take the ride and the options were worthless when he could cash out. To a much lesser extent, I’ve paid tuition at that school. Bye bye big bux!
Futures are also useful when you have stock accumulated say in AT&T over decades. And you’re sitting at 80$/share with lots of shares, and your good son, (me), comes to you and says “sell”. You say “never, it’s for widows and orphans”. Argh! I say, “You think it’s going up. Sell a put; requiring someone to buy it at 60 in the future and buy a a set of calls at 80,85,90, whatever.” You say “nah”. So I watch as you ride $80 times gobs of shares to $12 times gobs of shares. Argh!! bye bye big bux.
Futures are great if you a have specific purpose in mind. Here’s a Futures Trading course on the web for free. And, the gooferment site. Stay out of traffic.
Let me know how you make out,
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UPDATE Just notified that this was “Best by Voters. One vote; six answers. Not overwhelming, but I won’t decline the 10 meaningless points.
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