It's possible to trade profitably on the Forex, the nearly $2 trillion worldwide currency exchange market. But the odds are against you, even more so if you don't prepare and plan your trades. According to a 2014 Bloomberg report, several analyses of retail Forex trading, including one by the National Futures Association (NFA), the industry's regulatory body, concluded that more than two out of three Forex traders lose money. This suggests that self-education and caution are recommended. Here are some approaches that may improve your odds of taking a profit. Prepare Before You Begin Trading Because the Forex market is highly leveraged -- as much as 50 to 1 -- it can have the same appeal as buying a lottery ticket: some small chance of making a killing. This, however, isn't trading; it's gambling, with the odds long against you. A better way of entering the Forex market is to carefully prepare. Beginning with a practice account is helpful and risk-free. While you're trading in your practice account, read the most frequently recommended Forex trading books, among them Currency Forecasting: A Guide to Fundamental and Technical Models of Exchange Rate Determination, by Michael R. Rosenberg is short, not too sweet and highly admired introduction to the Forex market. Forex Strategies: Best Forex Strategies for High Profits and Reduced Risk, by Matthew Maybury is an excellent introduction to Forex trading. The Little Book of Currency Trading: How to Make Big Profits in the World of Forex, by Kathy Lien is another concise introduction that has stood the test of time. All three are available on Amazon. Rosenberg's book, unfortunately, is pricey, but it's widely available in public libraries. "Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline and a Winning Attitude," by Mark Douglas is another good book that's available on Amazon, and, again, somewhat pricey, although the Kindle edition is not. Use the information gained from your reading to plan your trades before plunging in. The more you change your plan, the more you end up in trouble and the less likely that elusive forex profit will end up in your pocket. Diversify and Limit Your Risks Two strategies that belong in every trader's arsenal are: Diversification: Traders who execute many small traders, particularly in different markets where the correlation between markets is low, have a better chance of making a profit. Putting all your money in one big trade is always a bad idea. Familiarize yourself with ways guaranteeing a profit on an already profitable order, such as a trailing stop, and of limiting losses using stop and limit orders. These strategies and more are covered in the recommended books. Novice traders often make the mistake of concentrating on how to win; it's even more important to understand how to limit your losses. Be Patient Forex traders, particularly beginners, are prone to getting nervous if a trade does not go their way immediately, or if the trade goes into a little profit they get itchy to pull the plug and walk away with a small profit that could have been a significant profit with little downside risk using appropriate risk reduction strategies. In "On Any Given Sunday," Al Pacino reminds us that "football is a game of inches." That's a winning attitude in the Forex market as well. Remember that you are going to win some trades and lose others. Take satisfaction in the accumulation of a few more wins than losses. Over time, that could make you rich!

It's nearly New Year's Eve: Why "Tipsy" is such an undesirable mark

Sometimes this Kat feels compelled to discuss trademarks other than in strictly legal terms. Several years ago he did so in explaining why “COFIX” was his trademark of the year. This time, however, he comes from the other direction: what happens when he finds a mark troubling, even if it will pass legal muster. And so it is with the mark “Tipsy White” for… you guessed it, white wine, as produced by a local winery. Forget the word “white; our focus is on “Tipsy”.

So why does this Kat find the mark troubling? It's all about its connotation in the context of wine products. So let's start with the fact that Tuesday night is New Year’s Eve, or Sylvester, or whatever name is given to that period between December 31st and January 1st. New Year’s Eve is marked by parties, which inevitably involve alcohol.

This means that New Year’s Eve is one of the most vulnerable times of the year for accidents caused by drivers who should not have behind the steering wheel. If there is any date on the calendar for which collective concern about overconsumption of alcohol is especially acute, it is New Year’s Eve.
                                                                                 Leave the party like this

Which brings us to “Tipsy”. Merriam-Webster defines the word as meaning “unsteady, staggering, or foolish from the effects of liquor”, or, as another definition of the term more simply puts it, “slightly drunk.” However you look at, “tipsy” means overdrinking in light of one’s personal capacity to do so without impairing his or her judgment and reactions.

Consuming alcohol is a social activity spanning millennia; done in reasonable quantities, it can enhance one’s social experience. But done to excess, it can lead to vehicular tragedy. So, for this Kat, tipsy is an undesirable outcome of drinking alcohol. That does not mean that we should ban the drinking of alcohol, but it does mean that we should not be extolling its possible undesirable effects.

Against this backdrop, this Kat is mystified by the adoption of “Tipsy White”. For sure, the branding of wine, like any consumer product, is a challenge. What message does the company want to send via its brand? Should the brand emphasize the quality of the wine product (the better to charge a higher price), its provenance (the better to differentiate it), or suggest the experience that one can expect in consuming the wine?

If the focus of the branding is on the experience, there is a fine line that needs to be navigated, because of the possible negative side effects of wine consumption. But whatever the nuances in fashioning the message, there is a clear red line that the message should never cross—from enjoyment to (even mild) inebriation. With all due respect, “Tipsy White” crosses this line.

No wine brand should be suggesting that in drinking wine, one can expect to become “tipsy". Whether this will be so either because the taste of the wine is so irresistible or the alcohol level is so potent, is left unclear, but it does not matter. The branding message is unacceptable.

This Kat can already hear the pushback:
Come on Kat, there is nothing illegal going on here. A brand holder is free to adopt whatever name and mark it wishes; the consumers and the marketplace will decide on whether the choice is good or bad.
                                                                                       .... and not like this

This Kat’s retort is that, in our current cultural moment, there are values, in addition to legal concerns, that should play a part in the exercise of one’s IP rights. Something like this has been taking place for a decade with respect to corporate responsibility. There, more and more commentators, and even market participants, are rejecting the narrow neo-liberal position that companies exist solely for the benefit of shareholders in favor of taking into account the interests of other stakeholders in the society.

A similar concern should be brought to bear on the adoption of a new brand and the message that it conveys. Whether “Tipsy” is registrable on legal grounds (and let us assume that it is), there is also a broader context which should be taken into account. Social concerns matter.

Interestingly, the "small print" adjoining the mark on the bottle states that the producer maintains an "ecological vineyard". That is all for the good. Still, even if the vineyard is taking steps to be ecologically responsible, the message being sent by “Tipsy” is undesirable. We all know, without being told, that overconsumption of wine can lead to inebriation. There is no reason to encourage it.

A safe New Year’s Eve to all Kat readers, especially in front of the steering wheel.

By Neil Wilkof
Pictures by the author


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