Pain & Fear

Heather Cullen

Heather Cullen

In The Money

Heather Cullen Blog IN The Money Fear greed Pain

Or Fear & Greed?

Most books about the stock market think that fear and greed are the 2 main drivers of traders. I think not; I think they are pain and fear.

Crashing out

Sometimes I wonder why people are attracted to the stock market. After all, studies show that most people who try trading crash out of the market in less than 2 years – why put yourself through that pain?

I also wonder why people use financial advisors and fund managers when a quick google search will show that most fail to even match the market. Possibly it is less painful than trading on your own because you can blame someone else when things go pear-shaped.

Good advice?

My son said just before I left for summer in Europe: ‘Why don’t you sell everything, and then you can have a real holiday with nothing to worry about?’ Sensible advice. I was up 40% for the year. Why not stop now when I was on top? Yet I didn’t take the good advice; why?


I have been thinking (during several sparkling afternoons at the pool with nothing else to do) that I don’t think that it is fear and greed that drives traders – well, not me anyway. Sure, when the market is going down I am fearful, but the fear is ameliorated because I am relying on a backtested system, that I know will get me out before anything disastrous happens. I always know the worst scenario that can happen to me and that I can live with it (although not be happy about it). So that’s fear covered.


What I find very hard to live with is the market going up and I not being in it. That is a peculiar sort of pain, one that niggles all day  while you are out, and for years after, even after you have got back in. I remember years ago getting out of the European market as I thought it was a basket case – and then watched it rally, and keep going up. And up.

Heather Cullen Blog IN The Money Fear greed Pain

Every morning I would look at the increase, and beat myself up – not a good way to start the day.

So, no, the idea of being out of the market for 3 months (unless the ITM system has told me to get out) is not something I could countenance with  equanimity.

Why the diatribe?

Self-indulgence, I’m afraid. When you are on holiday you have the time to assess your life and where you are – and try to figure out what you are going to do when you grow up! But its good to know why you trade and what drives you. OK, getting off my soap box.

Heather Cullen Blog IN The Money Fear greed Pain

Are we miserable?

It sounds like traders are miserable people, driven by fear and pain, doesn’t it? Maybe we are. But then, when you look at your results and calculate how many years you would have had to work and sell your precious time to get where you are then it is all worthwhile. Besides, I don’t think I am miserable at all, and most traders I have met have been pretty interesting and upbeat people.

To the markets . .

OK, harangue over. What happened on the market last week? The employment data showed jobs and wage growth accelerated in May, and the unemployment rate ticked higher. This reduced expectations for rate cuts this year, and the first rate cut is now expected in September.

I was going to write about the figures and what they meant, but I thought that I would leave that to someone more expert than me. Here’s a link:

SPY Charts

SPY is making new highs. After a blockbuster performance on Wednesday, The next 2 days showed consolidation, with little indication that there was any bearish sentiment. Obviously, after a big up day people (the fearful?) are taking profits which limits the upside.

However, the bounce of support at 524 continues. The 200 SMA is now well above the previous high of July 2023.

The weekly chart shows the uptrend is still in place.

Heather Cullen Blog IN The Money Fear greed Pain

SPYG Chart

SPYG is showing the same pattern as SPY – it has bounced off support / resistance and is continuing to blue sky territory.

Heather Cullen Blog IN The Money Fear greed Pain

The weekly chart shows the uptrend continuing into blue sky territory.

QQQ Chart

QQQ continues the uptrend, decisively above support / resistance.

Heather Cullen Blog IN The Money Fear greed Pain

And the weekly chart shows the uptrend intact and in blue sky territory.

VIX Chart

The VIX has a slight uptick, but it still very low.


Heather Cullen Blog ITMeter

The week ahead . .

The Fed meets this week, and it is expected that there will be no change in interest rates. They (the Fed) have indicated that they are in no hurry to reduce rates as inflation has not dropped to their 2% target. The May inflation data is also out on Wednesday.

Greek summer . . .

Now in Milos, beautiful (but not as beautiful as Folegandros) weather wonderfully warm and clear, internet perfectly awful! 

Heather Cullen Blog IN The Money Fear greed Pain

Churches everywhere – this was the highest, so naturally I had to climb to it. What a view from the top!

Fingers crossed for a good week!


Questions & Answers

2 thoughts on “Pain & Fear”

  1. Heather, hello. Thank you for the information in your books and what you post here on the blog. I started using your DITM strategy back on 2/15/24, starting with 1 block of SPG with a 1/17/25 $280 strike purchased for $226.01 at 56.4% leverage and 1.9% breakeven. What I am curious about is the rollup process now that I am nearing 50% leverage (52%). I am looking at $320 strike which would bring leverage back to 59.8%. In the rollup strategy, should I be keeping the same timeframe 1/17/25 or should that be pushed out to say June’25? Any profits from this trade I intend to roll into a SPYG DITM trade for Dec’24.

  2. Hi Heather!
    Appreciate the weekly blog posts as always. Very informative! What are your thoughts on the somewhat reduced volume profiles that are noticeable on spy and qqq, on the daily timeframes, ever since the start of may and the last break below and subsequent recovery above the 50 sma? Do you think this could be eluding to a market top?

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