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Copyright © 2021, Michael D. Jenkins, Esq. and Ronin Software
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SPECULATOR: THE STOCK TRADING SIMULATION -- UPDATE INFORMATION
 


THE "SPECULATOR" -- NEWS OF RECENT RELEASES

  • YouTube Videos of Speculator Now Available: A fan of Speculator in the U.K. has created a whole series of videos on YouTube, where he plays Speculator and explains what he is doing, in a very interesting fashion. While Speculator is a Windows program, he runs it on a Mac, within a Windows emulation program called CrossOver, apparently. While it does work pretty well on the Mac, the emulation program doesn't translate some of the fonts that well to the Mac iOS, so the stock ticker and some other parts of the program look a bit weird, unlike when it is run on a native Windows system, but it still works OK. He has posted a series of videos, each about 20 minutes in length, though there was an audio problem with his first two episodes, making it a bit difficult to understand everything he was saying, but the audio is fine in the subsequent episodes. Check it out! It is informative and entertaining to see how he does his investment research, although he barely scratches the surface in terms of the number of research tools he utilizes.

    YouTube link: Click here!

  • Version 2.0 -- Released August 5, 2020 (Major Upgrade):

    • Corporation Cash Flow Projections: This version now includes detailed 3-month cash flow projections for corporations, which can help you determine when a stock you are considering investing in (or shorting) is about to run out of cash and/or borrowing power, and perhaps be forced to sell off assets when it has burned through all its cash and credit. Or, it can give you some assurance that a company is sailing along smoothly, with no near-term liquidity problems. The complex code that does the calculations is also a diagnostic tool that we use to give you warnings (pop-ups or in Research Reports on a stock) when a company is about to experience a serious cash crunch in the next three months.

    • New "Pandemic" Crisis Scenario Has Been Added: It will only occur in rare situations, but, as in the real world COVID-19 pandemic, when it does, the effects will be devastating (unless you happen to own gold or shares in the new triple-leveraged inverse index ETF, described below)! Like the "Peak Oil" and "Subprime" crises that can some times occur in the simulation, the new Pandemic crisis scenario can drag on for years, crushing stock prices and causing numerous bond defaults and bankruptcies.

    • New Leveraged Index ETFs and Bond Funds Added: Five new ETFs have been added in this major update. Two of the new ETFs are triple-leveraged funds that rapidly trade the Stock Index futures, in order to simulate a 3x leveraged position in the Stock Index at all times. One simulates a 3x "long" (bullish) position in the Stock Index by buying index futures, while the other leveraged fund seeks to simulate a 3x "short" (bearish) position in the index, by shorting appropriate amounts of the Stock Index futures, with a notional value of 3 times the Stock Index Price.

      Both of these funds are EXTREMELY volatile and, as in the real world, are almost always terrible long-term investments, because of the constant adjustments they make by buying and selling enough futures every day to maintain the equivalent of triple long or short leverage. However, they are excellent vehicles for short-term trading if you bet right on the trend of the overall stock market in the simulation, so you can get rich quick if you're lucky, or get poor immediately if you are not. Neither of these index funds are "managed" funds, so their annual management fees are set at the lowest level for ETFs in Speculator -- 0.2% of net assets per year. The main thing we can say about these two funds is: "Buyer beware! And hang on to your hat for a wild ride!"

      The other three new funds are a government bond fund that invests entirely in long-term and/or short-term government bonds, and two corporate bond funds. One of the corporate bond funds invests only in "blue-chip" investment-grade corporate bonds, with credit ratings of BBB up to AAA. The other corporate bond fund is a "junk bond" fund that invests only in corporate bonds that are below investment-grade -- from "BB"-rated down to "CC," although they will sometimes also buy "C" or "D"-rated bonds of companies that are profitable and which may be able to earn enough to improve their credit ratings. While both of the corporate bond funds will at times buy convertible bonds, the "junk bond" ETF is more likely to invest in such convertibles. As with the two index funds, the three bond funds have low management fees of 0.2% of net assets per year.

      The bond funds will occasionally issue bonds when interest rates are low or borrow from their bankers, to provide some leverage in both the price of the funds and their yield, if the borrowed money can generate higher yields from bond investments than the funds are paying on the amounts borrowed.

      Since idle cash in your brokerage account only pays a pitifully low rate of interest, 1/10th of the Prime Rate in Speculator (still much better than in the real world, where most brokers pay zilch on your cash balance, or something like .01 of 1%), the three bond funds in this new version give you a good place to park some of your cash at a decent interest rate, well-diversified, and with minimal risk other than interest rate risk, since the funds will all tend to rise as interest rates fall, and vice versa. Thus, you will mainly want to buy the bond funds when you think interest rates are relatively high, and may go lower in the near future --- or at least won't go much higher.

      While these 5 new ETFs did not exist in game files you may have saved with prior versions of Speculator, they will be added to the data set when you load an old saved game file into the new version of Speculator, as well as always being created when you start a new game with this Version 2.0.

    • Stock Price Alerts Are Now Available: Taking a user's suggestion, we have added a feature that lets you choose to be alerted when a particular stock's price rises above or falls below a level that you specify. The alert will remain in effect for a full year of game play, or until the objective is reached and you are notified by a pop-up message. A new "Stock Price Alert" item has been added to the MISC Menu of the "small screen" version of Speculator, and as a "Settings Menu" item in the "large screen" version. Simply click on that button and enter your specified target price for the stock that is the current "Selected Company," and you will be given a pop-up notification if the stock reaches the price target you set, at some time during in the following "year" of game play. (Otherwise, an alert expires after one year.) You can do multiple alerts at different prices on the same stock, and players can have up to a total of 100 price alerts on file at the same time.

    • ETF Leverage Now Restricted: Restrictions have been imposed on the amount of leverage that an ETF may take on. An ETF must maintain a net asset value that is at least 3 imes the amount of its debts (bank loan and/or bonds issued). If its net asset value falls below that requirement, it will be required to pay down bank loans, possibly forcing a sale of some of its investments. This means that an ETF's line of credit will be smaller than that of a corporation with the same credit rating, and that when an ETF issues bonds, the amount will be limited by the foregoing "300% Rule," which is based on a U.S. law (the Investment Company Act of 1940) that regulates the maximum leverage of investment companies, such as ETFs.

    • Database Searches of a Single Industry: Thanks to a user's excellent suggestion, a new item has been added to the Database Search function, which now allows you to narrow your search to a single industry. For example, you might do a search of all banks rated as a "STRONG BUY" by analysts and which are projected to have an increase of 10% or more in quarterly earnings for the next quarterly earnings report.

    • Use of Default Browser: Prior versions of the program were "hard-wired" to launch Internet Explorer when accessing the Internet for ordering, downloads, update information, etc. Since Internet Explorer is no longer under development by Microsoft and most computer users now prefer other browsers, this version uses whichever browser you have designated as the default browser for your computer (Google, Edge, Firefox, Safari, etc.).

    • New Setting Added To Clear Stock Chart History: A new item has been added to the Settings drop-down menu on the main screen of Speculator. In some cases, a very large increase (or decrease) in a stock's price can make the prior history or current history fluctuations seem almost like a flat line on the chart, like when a company's stock trades around 5.00 for several years and suddenly goes to 1,000 due to some windfall it receives. In such a case, you may want to erase the stock's prior chart history and start a new chart. It will take 3 months (or portions of 3 months) before there is enough new data for that company's stock chart to become available again. (A stock's chart history is automatically erased, in most cases, when a company goes through bankruptcy.)

    • Minor Bug Fix:We fixed a minor bug which could occur in games involving multiple human players. When there is only one human player, the stock ticker, if running, would continue to run even after your turn ends, if Speculator becomes the background program, such as when you open another application, such as your browser, and Speculator is no longer visible on your computer screen. That is intended. However, that was still occurring when there were 2 or more human players, which meant the ticker could keep running after your turn ended, when it should have stopped and waited for the next (human) player to begin his or her turn, which it now does since we have fixed the problem. Thus, now, if there are 2 or more human players and you cover the W$R screen with another program while the ticker is running, it will only run, at most, until your turn has ended, and it is ready for the next human player to take his or her turn, at the end of a calendar month.

    • Version 2.0 is file-compatible with saved game files from all prior versions of Speculator. Although the 5 new bond and index fund ETFs were not created in a game you may have started and saved with v. 1.23 or earlier versions, the 5 new ETFs will automatically be created and inserted into a game you saved with a prior version, when you load the old saved game file.

    • Version 1.23 -- Released March 20, 2019 (minor upgrade):

      (Free upgrade from Versions 1.20, 1.21, or 1.22)

      • Bond Portfolio Listing of Convertibles: The bond portfolio listings of corporate convertible bonds owned by players or corporations now indicate, with the abbreviation "cv." before the coupon rate, that the bonds are convertibles. As such, you can now tell at a quick glance which bonds in a bond portfolio have equity features.

      • Version 1.23 is a free upgrade for anyone who has bought Versions 1.20, 1.21 or 1.22. Contact us at MDJENK at AOL (DOTCOM), to request a download link and include your name and registation number.
      • Version 1.23 is file-compatible with saved game files from all prior versions of Speculator.

    • Version 1.22 -- Released January 1, 2019 (minor upgrade):

      • Refinement to Database Searches: The additional search parameter that was added in v. 1.20, which allowed you to exclude financial companies from Database Searches, has been changed to also exclude industrial companies, if less than 20% of the company's total assets are "business assets" (plant, equipment, etc.), since those companies are much like a holding company. Factors like improving industry supply/demand are not that relevant to a company that has the vast majority of its assets invested in stocks, options, cash, T-bills, and commodities, rather than in business (operating) assets.

    • Version 1.21 -- Released October 15, 2018 (minor upgrade):

      • Changed Timing of Options/Futures Expiration: Previously, the program made an announcement, on the last day of the month, if any options or futures contracts of the player were expiring in the middle of the next month. In some cases, that was not useful, where there were two or more human players, if one player's turn was ending at the end of the month, giving that player little or no time to take any action after seeing the announcement, such as by closing the position early or changing the Exercise Options? setting.

        This version makes such announcements now at the beginning of the month in which the options or futures will expire, so the player now has time (about a half-month of game play time) to take any needed actions, if he or she doesn't want to simply let the contract expire on the scheduled expiration date.

      • File Compatibility: Version 1.21 is file-compatible with games saved by any of the earlier versions of Speculator.

    • Version 1.20 -- Released September 1, 2018 (minor uprgrade):

      • Additional Search Parameters: The Database Search functions have been improved, by adding a new search parameter, which allows you to exclude financial companies (banks, insurance companies, and holding companies) from search results. Thus, you can now do searches that are confined to the 67 categories of industrial companies.

      • File Compatibility: Version 1.20 is file-compatible with games saved by any of the earlier versions of Speculator.

    • Version 1.15 -- Released March 11, 2018 (major uprgrade):

      • Currencies Update: Updated the default currency exchange rates for the 18 non-U.S. currencies as of March 11, 2018. A player can modify the default exchange rate at the beginning of a new game, if the exchange rate for the non-U.S. currency has changed to a significant degree from the default value.

      • Readability: Improved the screen formatting of various text tables, so that very large numbers such as 74938459311 will now display as 74,938,459,311, which is much more readable. Also made changes to allow for much larger numbers than in earlier versions, as we found some players were able to accumulate astoundingly large sums of money, nearly crashing the program.

      • Options Pricing Algorithm: Modified the options pricing algorithm, which was generating values that we felt were unrealistically high for options that were very far "out-of-the-money."

      • Bankruptcy Changes: Made changes so that companies that are about to go broke due to losing interest rate swap positions will now default on the swaps before being completely wiped out, since the other creditors (bank lender, bondholders) should have higher priority than the counterparty on a swap agreement, as senior creditors in case a company goes under.

      • ETF Investment Strategy: Changed the investment strategy of ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) to make them more aggressive by keeping them more fully invested, instead of maintaining such large cash reserves.

      • Stopping Play When Player's Turn Ends: Made change to stop the stock ticker from running when the game is in the background, behind the screen from some other software program, and there are two or more human players, and one player's turn ends. Otherwise, the other human player could lose part or all of his/her turn if time continued to progress, which was not fair.

      • File Compatibility: Version 1.15 is file-compatible with games saved by any of the earlier versions.

    • Version 1.10 -- released October 15th, 2016, with numerous improvements, as listed below:

      • Setting Currency Exchange Rates: If you own the software for a few months or years, and you like to configure it to play in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, you will find before long that the currency exchange rates built into the program get to be out of date, as real world exchange rates can change significantly over time. This version lets you change the "default" exchange rate by entering a current exchange rate when you start a new game in a non-U.S. currency.

      • Convertible Bond Database Search Improved: In the new version, if you do a database search, you are given the choice of excluding "busted" convertibles from the search (those bonds whose conversion price is so far above the stock price, because the stock price has sunken, that the conversion feature has very little effect on the bond price, unless the stock makes a very large up move). You can enter a percentage, such as 20%, for the maximum conversion premium (the bond's price over its current value if it were converted into stock). In that case, the search would exclude convertible bonds that trade at more than a 20% premium. This is useful, if you are looking for convertible bonds to buy that will act pretty much like the underlying stock.

      • Limits on Position Size: As a game focused on trading (and realism), the previous versions already limited a player's ownership of any company to 5% of the stock, which is the general real world limit, since beyond that, the S.E.C. requires onerous filing and regulatory requirements that make it difficult to trade in and out of a stock. However, we did not place any limits on short sales or option positions, so that if you made enough money, you could theoretically short 5 times or 10 times (or more) as many shares of a company than actually exist, or buy options on more shares than exist, which was not realistic.

        In order to keep the simulation as realistic as possible, this version imposes a similar 5% limit on short sales and a 10% (of the public stock "float") on call option positions, and a separate 10% limit on put option positions on a stock.

      • Improved Listings of Stock, Bond, and Other Asset Listings: We didn't expect players who started with $100,000 in this simulation to run their wealth into the hundreds of billions. We're not sure how they did it, but we were wrong (largely because of the loopholes noted in the preceding paragraph). In this version, we have made room in all the various portfolio, balance sheet, and cash flow listings of assets for much larger numbers. Also, many players have said they would prefer, in portfolio listings, to see their per share (or per bond) cost, shown next to the current price per share, rather than their total cost of the position. Also, some players who got into very large numbers found them hard to decipher when the numbers were not comma-delimited, such as "12398434849" instead of a more readable "12,398,434,849." We have made those requested changes in Version 1.10 and expanded the width of the various tables or listings to accommodate much larger numbers.

      • Turnarounds of Sick Companies: In the prior versions, companies that got in financial trouble almost always continued to fall deeper and deeper into the hole, often eventually going bankrupt, which made it easy to short such stocks and wait until the companies eventually went bankrupt and all their stock was canceled, for a 100% profit on shorts, or bigger profits on put options. In this version, the odds of "management improvements" that result in an earnings turnaround have been made somewhat greater, so that shorting such stocks is now less of a "sure thing."

    • Version 1.05 -- Released June 1, 2016 (Shareware changes mainly)

      • The shareware version was changed to enable short selling, options trading, and futures trading features. However, since (as in the 30-year registered version) it is necessary to achieve a net worth of $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000 respectively, to become eligible for short selling, options or futures trading, it will be somewhat difficult to achieve those levels in the 3 years of game play allowed in the shareware version of the program.

        A number of minor tweaks were made in both the shareware and registered versions.

    • Version 1.03 -- Released April 15, 2016 (Minor text wording changes, fixed several typos)

    • Version 1.02 -- Released March 23, 2016 (Bug Fix Only)

      • Found and fixed bug that could sometimes cause program to crash during a computer player's turn during first quarter of a game, if a computer player was using Strategy #12 of the 12 randomly-assigned computer player strategies that are assigned at the start of each game.

    • Version 1.01 -- Released: February 1, 2016 (Initial Release)

      • This was the first release of Speculator, The Stock Trading Simulation (initially named Speculator, The Stock Market Simulation). Please see the extensive 'Help' files and Glossary that are included with the software (F1 Key for both or click on 'Help Menu' at top of main screen), for an overview of how the program works, plus a detailed discussion of each feature of the program, suggested strategies, how the program does accounting, computes earnings, and calculates taxes, and much more.


TRY THE FREE TRIAL VERSION OF THE SOFTWARE:

  • DOWNLOAD A FREE ("SHAREWARE") VERSION HERE: We believe in "Try before you buy," so you can download a copy of the free "shareware version" by CLICKING HERE. The shareware version is generally the same as the Registered Version, except that games are limited to 3 "years" of play. Also, stock charts are not always available in the shareware version and it uses fictional company names. The Registered Version allows you to play games of up to 30 years in length and stock charts are enabled for all stocks, plus the Registered Version mainly uses real company names for the 1500+ stocks. In addition, the Registered Version comes with a "Customizer Utility" program that lets you change the names, stock symbols, and nation of incorporation for any of the companies in the simulation.


ORDER THE REGISTERED VERSION HERE:

  • ORDER REGISTERED (FULL) VERSION: If you liked what you saw in the "shareware" version, CLICK HERE to order the registered version ($19.95 U.S.), and start working your way up the investor food chain to Short Seller, Options Trader, or Futures Trader status!

  • HALF-PRICE FOR REGISTERED USERS OF WALL STREET RAIDER. The price is reduced to $9.95 for anyone who is a registered user of Wall Street Raider or Speculator. (E-mail the author at MDJENK {a t} A O L ... [.] ....C O M for the $9.95 ordering link if you are a registered user.)



Copyright © 2021 Michael D. Jenkins, Esq. and Ronin Software