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The Volatility Edge in Options Trading: New Technical Strategies for Investing in Unstable Markets Hardcover – January 27, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0132354691 ISBN-10: 0132354691 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (January 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132354691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132354691
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JEFF AUGEN, currently a private investor and writer, has spent over a decade building a unique intellectual property portfolio of algorithms and software for technical analysis of derivatives prices. His work includes over one million lines of computer code refl ecting powerful new strategies for trading equity, index, and futures options. As co-founding executive of IBM’s Life Sciences Computing business, Augen defined a growth strategy resulting in $1.2B of new revenue and managed a large portfolio of venture capital investments. From 2002 to 2005, he was President and CEO of TurboWorx, Inc., a technical computing software company founded by the chairman of the Department of Computer Science at Yale University. He is author of Bioinformatics in the Post-Genomic Era: Genome, Transcriptome, Proteome, and Information-Based Medicine (Addison-Wesley, 2004).

 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Betting With the House

Preface

This book is written for experienced equity and index option traders who are interested in exploring new technical strategies and analytical techniques. Many fine texts have been written on the subject, each targeted at a different level of technical proficiency. They range from overviews of basic options positions to graduate-level reviews of option pricing theory. Some focus on a single strategy, and others are broad-based. Not surprisingly, many fall into the "get rich quick" category. Generally speaking, books that focus on trading are light on pricing theory, and books that thoroughly cover pricing theory usually are not intended as a trading guide.

This book is designed to bridge the gap by marrying pricing theory to the realities of the market. Our discussion will include many topics not covered elsewhere:

  • Strategies for trading the monthly options expiration cycle

  • The effects of earnings announcements on options volatility and pricing

  • The complex relationship between market drawdowns, volatility, and disruptions to put-call parity

  • Weekend/end-of-month effects on bid-ask spreads and volatility

A cornerstone of our discussion will be a new set of analytical tools designed to classify equities according to their historic price-change behavior. I have successfully used these tools to trade accounts as small as $80,000 and as large as $20M.

Ten years ago, having studied the markets for some time, I believed I could be a part-time investor with a full-time professional career. At the time I was a computer-industry executive—a director at IBM—with a large compensation package and a promising future. My goal was to develop a successful trading strategy that could be implemented as an income supplement. It was a naïve idea. Successful investing is a demanding pursuit. The work described in this book took more than ten years. It involved writing hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code, constructing numerous financial-history databases, creating new data visualization tools, and, most important, executing more than 3,000 trades. During that time I also read dozens of books and thousands of technical articles on economic theory, technical analysis, and derivatives trading. The most important result was not the trading system itself, but the revelation that nothing short of full-time effort could possibly succeed. The financial industry is populated with bright, hard-working, well-educated professionals who devote every waking hour to making money. Moreover, there is virtually no limit to the funds that can be made available to hire outstanding talent. An amateur investor should not expect to compete with these professionals in his or her spare time. The market is a zero-sum game—every dollar won must also be lost. Option trading represents the winner-take-all version of the game. Consistently making money requires focus and dedication. That said, experienced private investors often have a distinct advantage over large institutions in the equity options world. The advantage relates to scale. A private investor trading electronically can instantly open or close typical positions consisting of tens or even hundreds of option contracts. Conversely, institutions often manage very large positions worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Efficient execution becomes a barrier at this level. Furthermore, many equity option issues do not have enough open interest to support trades of this size. The result is that institutional traders tend to focus on index options—which are much more liquid—and some of the more heavily traded equity options. Large positions take time to negotiate and price. They have an element of permanence because they can't be unwound with the press of a button. Liquidity and scaling are central to this work, and we will return to this discussion many times in the context of trading logistics.

Generally speaking, the work is not done—not even close. But I've come a long way. Today I can comfortably generate a return that would make any investment bank or hedge fund proud. Needless to say, I no longer work in the computer industry, and I have no interest in a salary. I'm free. My time belongs to me. I trade for a living.



More About the Author

Jeff Augen, currently a private investor and writer, has spent more than a decade building a unique intellectual property portfolio of algorithms and software for technical analysis of derivatives prices. His work includes more than one million lines of computer code reflecting powerful new strategies for trading equity, index, and futures options.

Augen has a 25-year history in information technology. As a co-founding executive of IBM's Life Sciences Computing business, he defined a growth strategy that resulted in $1.2 billion of new revenue, and he managed a large portfolio of venture capital investments. From 2002 to 2005, Augen was President and CEO of TurboWorx, Inc., a technical computing software company founded by the chairman of the Department of Computer Science at Yale University. He is author of The Volatility Edge in Options Trading (FT Press, 2008), The Option Trader's Workbook (FT Press, 2008), Trading Options at Expirations (FT Press, 2009), Day Trading Options (FT Press, 2009), and Bioinformatics in the Post-Genomic Era (Addison-Wesley, 2004). Much of his current work on options pricing is built on algorithms for predicting molecular structures that he developed as a graduate student.

Customer Reviews

He explains the theory and mathematics very well.
Paul A. Lopez
The volatility spike graphs are a novelty in this business that anyone studying and trading volatility should benefit from.
Guy Cohen
This is a practical book and a must read for any options trader.
Greg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Guy Cohen on February 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A friend of mine in the trading industry suggested I read this gem of a book ... within a single weekend I did just that ... and what a gem it is!

Jeff Augen has put together a fine body of work in this book within which there are some seriously valuable nuggets of information.

The volatility spike graphs are a novelty in this business that anyone studying and trading volatility should benefit from. Essentially what he's uncovering is "differential volatility", in other words whether the volatility is being caused by buyers or sellers.

Typically, falling prices (due to selling action) will cause greater volatility, but not always. Sometimes the volatility is caused by rising prices. By understanding the direction in which the greater volatility of the underlying is occurring, the trader is able to position trades more appropriate to that skew. For example if the spikes indicate that volatility is caused by buying action then the calls may well be undervalued in advance of the next spike up. The trader can then make a double whammy trade, correct in direction and correctly in volatility.

Other nuggets include Jeff's slant on expiration date and earnings cycle trading, and the concept of stocks pinning to the strike, all of which are essential chapters in the book.

You'll be a more knowledgeable trader for reading this book and you should become a better trader for sure.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Riddick on May 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
One of the few trading books that instructs the reader on when, where, why, and how to place an option trade that has an excellent statistical probability of success. His Standard Deviation Spike Graphs are useful in that they can help to identify (by scanning), and capitalize (complete trading plan)on profitable opportunities. There are many more useful bits of info. The author is a professional trader using the techniques he writes about; many of which I (20+ yr option student/vet) use, and can confirm that they work. He is also correct in stating that successful options trading is darn near a full time job. For new traders beware, his advice is geared towards bloodied experienced traders, so practice for a while. Micheal Jordan telling us his secrets on how he drove the lane against Jabbar, Worthy, and Rambus is useful but be careful during practice (a pull-up perimeter jumper might be lower risk at first). As always, any advice on trading without a complete trading plan will fail to help any trader. If you are close to making it, continue to learn all that you can while knowing that this book will definitely help push you over the edge into long term trading success. This book is a must for any trading shelf, and is a steal at this price.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By bullseye on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Why is this book so much better than all the other books on trading options? Why is it better than the two day, $3,000 seminars on trading options advertised on TV or on the Internet?

Three reasons: several trading strategies are clearly described; a new type of charting technique is introduced which allows traders to visually evaluate a stock's price performance and then use that information to structure a trade that has a statistical edge; and numerous unique insights are presented that I had rarely or never seen in any other book or seminar. Incidentally the charting technique can be used very easily by traders who only trade stocks and not options.

I'll briefly describe the trading strategies, charts, and insights in chapters 3 through 8.

Chapter 3: This is the most useful material ever presented in any book on volatility, how to illustrate volatility visually on a unique type of chart, and then using the chart to make trading decisions. The discussion of differential volatility (different volatility for upward price move than downward) is totally unique to this book. A trading strategy is presented on trading cycles in volatility, which is visually illustrated in the context of gaining an edge of standard option pricing models.

Chapter 4: I was not aware that bid ask spreads could chew up so much of the profit from complex trades. I also found the best discussion ever on how short-term volatility swings affect option prices.

Chapter 5: First, a superb trading strategy is presented based on Augen's unique price charts. This strategy, based on a reversal of when price moves a specified number of standard deviations, as a trigger for entering trades, can be used very profitably by traders who only trade stocks.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Maxim Ross on March 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent book, with some novel ideas and concepts not covered in other books on options. Specifically useful are the following discussions:

- standard deviations and volatility charts
- discussions of liquidity and volatility swings
- hedging with VIX
- trading the earnings cycle
- trading the expiration cycle
- excellent coverage of all the main options strategies and spreads

Not a beginners book, and a year or two of decent options trading experience is recommended to get a good grasp of the concepts, but thats
great as there too many beginners book out there, all mostly the same!
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