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Trend Following with Michael Covel

Bestselling author Michael Covel is the host of Trend Following Radio with 5 million listens. Investments, economics, decision-making, human behavior & entrepreneurship--all passionately explored. Guests include Nobel Prize winners Robert Aumann, Angus Deaton, Daniel Kahneman, Harry Markowitz & Vernon Smith. Also: James Altucher, Dan Ariely, Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, Kathleen Eisenhardt, Marc Faber, Tim Ferriss, Jason Fried, Gerd Gigerenzer, Larry Hite, Sally Hogshead, Ryan Holiday, Jack Horner, Ewan Kirk, Steven Kotler, Michael Mauboussin, Tucker Max, Barry Ritholtz, Jim Rogers, Jack Schwager, Ed Seykota, Philip Tetlock & Walter Williams. All 500+ eps at www.trendfollowingradio.com/rss.
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Now displaying: July, 2015

Bestselling author Michael Covel is the host of Trend Following Radio with 5 million listens. Investments, economics, decision-making, human behavior & entrepreneurship--all passionately explored. Guests include Nobel Prize winners Robert Aumann, Angus Deaton, Daniel Kahneman, Harry Markowitz & Vernon Smith. Also: James Altucher, Dan Ariely, Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, Kathleen Eisenhardt, Marc Faber, Tim Ferriss, Jason Fried, Gerd Gigerenzer, Larry Hite, Sally Hogshead, Ryan Holiday, Jack Horner, Ewan Kirk, Steven Kotler, Michael Mauboussin, Tucker Max, Barry Ritholtz, Jim Rogers, Jack Schwager, Ed Seykota, Philip Tetlock & Walter Williams. All 500+ eps at www.trendfollowingradio.com/rss.

Jul 31, 2015

Many of the investment and trading approaches available today simply do not perform the same way in the real world as they do during simulation. This is why it's important to “look under the hood” of your trading strategy to understand how something works instead of simply taking it on faith.


This episode’s guest has appeared on the podcast twice before. Eric Crittenden is one of the key mind's behind Longboard Mutual Funds, a firm that has over 300 million dollars under management. Crittenden was also featured in Michael Covel's "Little Book of Trading".


In this episode, Eric Crittenden talks about creating a mutual fund based on trend following principles, why investment returns are not normally distributed, how financial simulations differ from the real world, and how to control risk in a trend following system.


Eric has many insights into trend following and trading in general, and has the financial data to back up his findings. He has also published several research papers on the matter, which are linked to below.


In this episode of Trend Following Radio:


-Relative momentum vs. time momentum
-Survivorship bias in the financial advisory market
-Defining risk – how much are you willing to lose?
-Why trend following works for both high-risk and low-risk assets
-Identifying the “sweet spot” client for fund managers
-The difference between most mutual funds and direct-managed funds
-Financial simulations vs. real life

Get a free Trend Following DVD here

Jul 27, 2015

There is often misunderstanding among the general public when it comes to probability and risk. For example, 20% of Americans believe they are in the top 1% of income earners, or are soon to be there. This is, of course, statistically impossible.

Statistical thinking needs to have a bigger focus in our society, especially since the amount of data we have to deal with on a daily basis is constantly increasing. We need systems to help us sift through the noise.

Today’s episode is a selection of excerpts from some of the brightest minds of today and yesterday, and their takes on systematic and statistical thinking. Michael Covel provides the commentary. Though this is not strictly a trend following episode, all the material is very much applicable and relevant for anyone in trading or business.

From Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) to Gerd Gigerenzer, to Daniel Dennett, to Richard Feynman, this episode is permeated with wisdom to help you cultivate a trend following mindset.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Having a foundation, a system to get through the noise
  • Developing a statistical mindset
  • Understanding risk and knowing how to deal with it
  • Getting “under the hood” of any trading system
  • Richard Feynman’s lecture on computer heuristics
  • What computer heuristics have to do with systems trading
  • A trait that geniuses have in common
  • The importance of isolation and concentration in learning

Want a FREE Trend Following DVD? Get it here.

Jul 24, 2015

Today’s podcast guest is Chris Clarke, ex-Goldman Sachs executive director and founder of Lawrence Clarke Investment Management. Clarke has been developing trading systems for decades.

The conversation today gets into the psychology of systems trading. Trend following is inherently simple to understand, and does not require above-average intelligence once the system is in place. Yet so many people, including most fund managers, tend to downplay trend following and keep seeking the “holy grail” – a magical system that will supposedly make them money without any downside. An interesting metaphor for this that Chris offers is that of weight loss. Although the theory of it is simple (diet and exercise), most people keep seeking the magic bullet that will make them achieve results without following the system. Much the same with trading.

Another topic that Michael Covel and Chris Clarke talk about is understanding the difference between risk and drawdowns. Drawdowns are normal, and will be there for as long as trend following as a strategy exists, and the markets keep trending. Ultimately, trend following is about human nature, and that’s not about to change.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Trusting the system once you choose it
  • Being prepared to trade no matter which way the markets go
  • The importance of edge, and why most gamblers lose
  • Looking at the math behind trading strategies
  • Understanding “market truths”
  • Drawdowns vs. risks

Want a FREE trend following DVD? Get it here.

Jul 20, 2015

An article recently appeared in Forbes, entitled “What Jurassic World Can Teach Investors About The Stock Market”. In it is an interview with Ben Carlson on why simplicity trumps complexity when it comes to investment strategies. Although not explicitly about trend following, the article brings up points about the poor historical performance of financially engineered assets and the superiority of simple systems.

In this monologue, Michael Covel talks about his desire to seek the truth, and the importance of taking personal responsibility for your actions. He also breaks apart the Forbes article on simplicity vs. complexity, and the logical reasons why trend following systems have historically performed better than others.

Also in this episode: the recent study that shows that metal-heads from the 80s are happier and better adapted than their peers.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Why simple strategies are better than complex ones
  • The importance of defining your risk as a number
  • How risk and reward are two sides of the same coin
  • Why going for the average is a losing strategy
  • The difference between hiring a financial advisor and an trader
Jul 17, 2015

Continuing the theme of speculation and gambling from the previous episode, today’s Trend Following Radio guest is Blair Hull. Hull got his start playing blackjack in Nevada casinos, and later moved onto trading. He founded his investment firm, Hull Investments, in 1999. The company, which leveraged technological innovations and quantitative models, was one of the world’s premier market-making firms, trading on 28 exchanges in nine countries.

The parallels in Hull’s approach to gambling and trading are many. He stresses the importance of objectivity and sticking to the system, especially during a losing streak when emotions run high. It’s not only about brain power, it’s about discipline.

In this interview, Blair Hull and Michael Covel talk about the parallels between blackjack and stock trading, the importance of money management and discipline when following systems, and the future of trading and market prediction.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • The importance of having a strategy and sticking to it
  • Why money management and discipline are key to trading success
  • Objectivity vs. emotions in blackjack and stock trading
  • Choosing the right markers and variables
  • Consumption as a function of income and wealth
  • The future of market prediction and machine learning

Want to get a FREE Trend Following DVD? Find it here: http://www.trendfollowing.com/win

Jul 13, 2015

Speculation has become a pejorative for some in recent times. A quick search yields the following definition of speculation: “forming a theory about a subject without firm evidence.” Yet if we look at the origin of the word, “speculor” means “to observe” in Latin. To speculate is to observe, and to make decisions based on those observations. In business and in life, there are ultimately two choices: to speculate or to gamble. The difference between the two is simple: the first has a strategy behind it; the second does not. The first relies on predetermined parameters for making decisions; while the second leaves decisions up to circumstance or emotion. In this monologue, Michael Covel talks about the philosophical foundation of success: speculation. This episode features many notable quotes from famous economists and traders, going back as far as the 1800s. The wisdom of these men is the foundation of trend following, and is as relevant today as ever. In this episode of the Trend Following podcast: why speculation is such an important concept, the philosophy behind trend following, watching results rather than causes, cutting short your losses, timeless excerpts from as early as the 1800s, and the early beginnings of Wall Street. Free trend following DVD: www.trendfollowing.com/win.

Jul 10, 2015

Francisco Vaca can be called a “second generation turtle trader”. He worked with Richard Dennis at C & D Commodities, and for the last 15 years has been closely associated with Paul Rabar. He is now the Co-Chief Investment Officer at Rabar Market Research. Before he became a trader, Vaca was a particle physicist and worked at the famous Fermi lab. This is not an insignificant fact, as his background in mathematics and statistics became very useful in his career as a trader. In this second interview with Michael Covel, Francisco Vaca talks about evaluating the short-term and long-term performance data of fund managers, the benefit of using trend following systems across the entire time spectrum, trend anticipating techniques, and using modern technology in trading. In this episode of Trend Following Radio: the importance of distinguishing between long term and short term track records, “alpha” and “beta” trading strategies, how the holding period length affects the risk-reward profile and return streaks, the benefits of diversification across different holding times, using high frequency trading technology in long term trend following, how correlations are often misinterpreted, and knowing the limitations of your tools. Get a FREE Trend Following DVD: http://trendfollowing.com/win.

Jul 6, 2015

A May 25, 1959 Time Magazine article called “Pas de Dough” was recently forwarded to Michael Covel. It was about a professional dancer named Nicolas Darvas, who had made two million dollars trading stocks. This was probably one of the first trend following articles to appear in a major publication. Sports metaphors when it comes to trend following work great, but there are clearly others. For example, both trend following and dancing judge the public’s enthusiasm and use that as the indicator for the next move. In this monologue, Covel talks about the article and Darvas' book, breaks down the fundamentals of trend following, and explains why the philosophy behind trend following still applies today. He also comments on how trend following can be applied to the current black swan economic situations in China and Greece. What trend following and dancing have in common, the philosophical foundations of trend following, stock trading and location independence, why relying on “fundamentals” is fool’s gold, what being a silent partner in the trend means, why Darvas’ thinking from 1959 still applies today, the importance of having no ego when it comes to trading. Free trend following DVD: www.trendfollowing.com/win.

Jul 3, 2015

There is a common problem in finance when it comes to evaluating investment managers’ performance: the factor or skill vs. luck. When a manager performs well over a number of years, it is not clear whether the success can be attributed to the manager’s skill and strategy, or random luck. And vice versa, when a manager performs badly, it can be difficult to pin-point whether it was due to lack of skill, or simply bad luck. Another factor that is commonly misunderstood in finance is risk. Understanding the differences between risk, volatility, and skew is essential to developing a well-performing trading strategy. Campbell Harvey studies these phenomena. He is a finance professor at Duke university, and research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research in Massachusetts. His research papers on these subjects have been published in many scientific journals. In this episode, Campbell Harvey and Michael Covel discuss risk tolerance, evaluating trading strategies, Harry Markowitz’ classic paper on portfolio selection, and the importance of differentiating between volatility and skew. In this episode of Trend Following Radio: Survivorship bias, and not being fooled by randomness, Why people with higher risk tolerance experience much higher upsides, Understanding process vs. outcome, The difference between volatility and skew, The importance of recognizing that asset returns are rarely “normally distributed”, When it is appropriate to apply a general framework, and when it is not, The Sharpe ratio – is it always relevant?, Harry Markowitz, Jim Simons, and Nassim Taleb. For more information and a free DVD: trendfollowing.com/win.

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