Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Human Behaviour: Hard To Understand?

I just spent a weekend in New York City learning about how to understand human behavior and try to make money from that. I was in the arms of two trading experts who teaching their particular techniques. One of the these traders specializes in the world of Elliott Wave analysis, and how this can map out future price movements. I wont try to replicate his explanations but I know the analysis hard to do well but is very powerful Elliott waves map human emotions and are evident in many markets where there is some form of open outcry for prices. The other trader uses different techniques, including Japanese candlesticks, which show the psychology of market participants as represented by opening and closing prices. I don't know if any of this will make me a better trader but I have to basis to be so, and am so grateful for people like these professional traders to share their knowledge.

But, the weekend had started with a minor disaster. After arriving at JFK on Friday night, the cab had deposited my daughter and me in Midtown Manhattan. I had talked with the cab driver on the way and discovered he was from Shanghai, and I remembered his name. By the time that I had to leave for my training the next morning, I could not find the shoulder bag in which I had my ID and all of my credit cards and my cash! I could not figure out how it might have been left in the cab, but it seemed that was the case. But, it was the weekend and a call to 311 to report the loss was met with news that I needed to wait till Monday for more information. By then I would be back on my way to Barbados. I had just US5, but fortunately my stepdaughter's boyfriend was attending the course as my guest and had cash for me. I could at least get through the next two days. I decided that at the end of the course I would just try to search thoroughly once more.

I went for beers and burgers with my tutors and a few other students during Saturday evening. I had no cares and hoped that I could pay my way, as I tucked in. Thankfully, our tutors were treating us as the poor hapless traders that we might really be still. We enjoyed their generosity and took it in the spirit offered, and with a few spirits and beers to wash away all the fatigue.

I enjoyed both days of the course and at its end went for a walk to the wonderful Apple 24 hours store near Central Park. First, I also strolled along the streets between East 42nd and 56th Streets along Lexington Avenue, which had been closed off for 'Street fest'. I walked and talked with a man from Dallas who had also been on the course. About 40 stalls were in each block, lining each side. Asians sold smoothies, fresh fruit, phone and iPod accessories; Latinos sold regional foods as well as French crepes; Greeks sold souvlakis and gyros; Sikhs and Middle Easterners sold sheets and scarves and hats and gloves and so on. Most stores were closed, and the fast food giants were not really expecting so much business. I saw European looking people were mainly the buyers. I found blacks largely absent: out of nearly nearly 600 stalls there were only about 5 manned by blacks (selling reggae CDs and jerk chicken and beads); and black patrons were so scarce. What was that? The story of economic disempowerment was as clear as could be. That's a bigger economic story for another day, though. I was thinking about how prices were changing, if at all, as all the buyers met all the sellers. Would I be able to use any of my new analytic skills or would I just have to walk on and play dumb?

I decided that my little daughter, who had been a constant user of my iPod Nano, and now knew my music better than me, needed to have her own device. Pink seemed the colour of choice and having used the cash I had to buy it, I decided that prudence meant saving the rest of the cash to pay for my cab the next day. Pity. I had seen some bargains on the street and really wanted to save a few dollars. So, back to Midtown I started to wend. I really enjoyed seeing the cars and cabs struggling with the policemen to maintain traffic order as they dealt with the closed avenue. New Yorkers are really quite tolerant of the things they have to deal with. More so on a Sunday, when fewer people are around and also when the last of summer's warmth was there to make an autumn day balmy.

As my knees started to tell me that 40 blocks walking with bags was just about as much as I needed to do, I got a call from my host. "You should buy a lottery ticket," he told me. I asked him why. Your cab driver is on his way with your bag. I smiled and just said, "That's faith, my friend. Leave it to those who can to solve the problems you have." I was a mere 8 blocks from his apartment and walked a little faster. I arrived and put my bags down. I pulled out a bottle of rum that I had brought as a gift but had not yet decided who would be deserving. Now I knew who should get it: the Shanghai taxi man.

We stood on the street looking for the cab to arrive, and in a few minutes it did. I think what made me happiest was that the driver looked so pleased to have found me. He explained that he had found the bag yesterday and tried to bring it back then, but had arranged with another tenant at the apartment block to leave a note with his number.My host had found the note but thought it was from me but could not understand it. Anyway, I took back my bag and all my 'important papers' were in tact. I handed the driver a box of Guyana's stellar El Dorado 15 year old rum. He laughed and thanked me. I gave up a prayer and thanked him.

No matter how much we try to understand human behaviour and for whatever reasons, we always have to deal with the simple truths about people. Most people are good and only want to do good for themselves and unto others. Meanness is a rarity that newspapers and television and radio try to tell us is the norm. It ain't so. So, can I say that financial markets are driven by benign sentiments? I'll tell you in a few months time.


Todd Gordon said...

DJ, with a 15 yr bottle of El Dorado, I and I embark on a long Elliott journey.

Your Elliott Tutor.

acox said...

good behaviour is taught and it is obvious he had good people in his life to nuture him . human behaviour is not hard to understand it is about pleasing oneselfor what makes one happy.in this case it made him happy to do what was right .while on the other handit might have pleased another person to keep the bag because it made them happy