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Can Day Trading be profitable for retail?

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There are always many active trading journals on FIO, where traders go to great lengths to report and critique their trading, having accepted the idea that being accountable for results will make them better at their craft. They clearly are being honest, considering that most of the results are not that great.

Almost all of them are not successful, or have only spotty success. Most, frankly, disappear. It is reasonable to assume that most of those who vanish simply do not make it. We are, in fact, told that something like 95% of retail traders eventually fail (which may be a little low, actually.)

But people also show progress, and some who are posting right now have managed to achieve consistent success over time. Some, like @michaelleemoore, no longer post actively, for a variety of reasons (including being pestered for "their secret," even though it was plainly detailed in their journals.)

I have been watching things here for years, and I can say that very, very few of the successes have been by traders who have an automated system that can be backtested. (There certainly have been some.) I can also say that very few have been "discretionary" traders, who are using their knowledge of the market and making human judgments based on their experience, not on mechanical rules. (There also have been some of these.) The obvious reason is that very few things work, but some do.... of both types.

It may appear to be reasonable to require a trader to conform to some particular idea of how they should trade, and so insist on a system that is susceptible to automated testing, but it is not. If a trader can succeed with a different approach, then that is what they should and will use. (They also will not generally regard it as their obligation to prove it to anyone, for some reason....)

Basically, actively reading the trading journals that are out there -- and that have been active in the past -- will show whether success is possible or not, and the verdict basically is, "Yes, but seldom."

And when I say "seldom," it's not like it's unheard-of. It's just seldom.

The issue, by the way, is not special in application to just day trading. I would say that trading within any timeframe is difficult, and there are very few traders (or investors) using any time horizon who will continue to make money. (Longer-term guys may just take longer to fail. ) But there still are those who do.

Only my two cents, but it is a reality that a (fairly small) number of traders do manage to trade well, in many timeframes and with many different methods. These are being documented every day on this forum, and it has been going on for years.


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