Nov 12, 2012
Michael Covel starts with "It Was a Very Good Year" by Frank Sinatra because what's more useful as a human being? Is it more useful to get all geared up about elections, or to listen to a Frank Sinatra sing a nice walk through life. A pleasant, easygoing way. Of course, the pleasant easygoing way is better. Covel discusses what the election means for both sides, even if he doesn't seem to care one way or the other: On the conservative side, if you keep running social issue candidates, you'll never win an election again. To the liberals, if you think the government can give you economic freedom, you'll never have economic freedom. So, where is Covel going with this? He goes the Frank Sinatra way, the go-with-the-flow way. Every couple of years, someone says "trend following is dead". Usually it's right at the time trend followers have a drawdown. The idea is to have your wins far outweigh your losses. You'll have volatility in your returns. Life is volatile and you can't predict what's going to happen. You can only make your bets, have stop losses in the market, and say "I'm going to get out if I lose this amount of money". Covel quotes Jason Gerlach of Sunrise Capital (a firm with a 30 year track record of success) as a response to those that say "trend following is dead": "Trend following is no more dead than the sport of sailing or the act of kite flying would be considered dead if, for a period of time, the wind didn't blow. Like a sailboat, or a kite, a trend following trading model is designed to capture the power of environmental forces. When the requisite environmental forces don't occur for stretches of time, activities that depend on those environmental forces are not going to be successful. Once the winds started blowing again, sailboats will sail, and kites will again fly. The same holds true for trend following. Just as the wind will always return to blow in the future, the forces that drive price trends: greed, fear, euphoria, panic, will return at some point, and when they do, trend following trading models will make a great deal of money." Covel again notes AQR's paper discussing trend following's positive returns dating back to 1903 as evidence of this. Yes, there's a chance wind will never return, but do you want to bet everything on that?