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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: November, 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.

Nov 30, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel features a presentation by Charles Faulkner. Charles is a trader, mentor and author who has been featured in Jack Schwager’s “Market Wizards” series. Faulkner is an international expert on modeling the knowledge and performance of exceptional individuals, teams and organizations, and applying the latest research in cognitive neuro-science and linguistics. He has appeared on this podcast five times and has received more positive feedback than any other guest.

Today, Charles’ message is about goals. It is about setting large goals that are above and beyond your everyday concerns. Goals that give your life purpose. Charles comes at this topic in a pragmatic and scientific way. He breaks down how our brains function best, making goals easier to obtain. The first example he gives is a “monkey see, monkey do” experiment. The experiment showed that when you do something repetitively in the correct form, you have a much higher success rate than if you were to be sitting in the stands watching or doing a variety of the same act, but only occasionally doing it right. Charles then moves onto a study centered on the idea of taking internal dialogue and externalizing it. When you write down a goal and draw out what that goal means to you, that is externalizing your inner-dialogue. In addition to writing out your goals, it is important to talk them out. Charles has his students ask each other: “What are you going to do to achieve your goals?” “What will you see, what will you feel?” “Where will you be and who will be there?” Asking these questions vivify your goal. On the flip side, it is important to ask about the downsides. The more important the goal, the more negatives it’s likely to have.

“Goals are a way of directing your attention” says Charles. He goes on, “You don’t set one big goal, you set interim goals so you get rewarded along the way.” Charles goes on to talk about the importance of having milestones so you don’t get discouraged when your goal is not met immediately. People become attached to a certain outcome but they don’t think about why that outcome is important. He asks the question, “What is important about making a million dollars?” When you break down the reasoning behind your goal, it may uncover layers you had never thought about.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • How to set goals
  • How to achieve your goals
  • Externalizing your inner-dialogue
  • The importance of milestones
Nov 27, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Ben Carlson. Ben is the Director of Institutional Asset Management at Ritholtz Wealth Management. He first gained fame with his blog, “A Wealth of Common Sense.” Following his blog success Ben wrote the book, “A Wealth of Common Sense: Why Simplicity Trumps Complexity in Any Investment Plan.”

“A Wealth of Common Sense” is geared toward helping investors gain a simpler decision making process and developing a clearer way of thinking. This is where Michael and Ben take the conversation on today’s podcast. Ben says that people usually become their worst enemy while trading. Cycle to cycle or fad-to-fad is how so many plan their investing rather than building their trading off a solid foundation. Studying the emotional side of trading is a relatively new concept that has sprung up in the last couple decades, which causes people to overlook the necessity of its study in their trading. Ben says, “Envy is the worst of all sins because nobody enjoys doing it.” People are constantly tempted to follow what others do. With the amount of information and “noise” thrown around today we are more informed than ever but most aren’t putting that information in the right context.

Ben uses the documentary, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” as a great example of having faith in a system matched with an extraordinary amount of discipline. There is nothing fancy about Jiro and his sushi. It is his discipline over the years to perfect his craft that has made him arguably the best sushi chef in the world. Whether it is creating the perfect meal or creating the perfect system, you have to give it time to work. Ben says that discipline is just not there for most people. Constantly asking, “Does this still work? Why should I continue to follow it?” Lastly Mike brings up the phrase “Market timing.” On a daily basis there is someone on T.V. predicting what will happen. The two talk about lack of understanding among investors, relating investment advisors as shrinks to their clients. They are not managers of money but managers of people.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Diversification
  • The purpose of a long only commodities investment
  • Speculation
  • Index funds
  • Having a plan
  • Risk and Reward
  • Saying no
Nov 23, 2015

Today marks 400 episodes on Trend Following radio. To celebrate Michael has put together a compilation of Tom Basso interviews. Tom has been on Trend Following Radio four times and his interviews have been among the most popular episodes airing on the show. Michael plays the interviews back to back and throws in a bonus interview at the beginning. The bonus excerpt is a Tom Basso presentation from the early to mid 1990s.

Tom Basso is most famously known as “Mr. Serenity” in Jack Schwager’s “The New Market Wizards”. Now retired from managing client money, Tom was president and founder of Trendstat Capital Management. He became a registered investment advisor in 1980, a registered commodities advisor in 1984, and was elected to the board of the National Futures Association in 1998.

Throughout this 4 1/2 hour podcast Michael and Tom cover a broad range of topics including: Tom’s background and how he got into trading, speculation, emotional rushes, emotional devastation, catastrophic events, separating trading from politics, behavioral economics, advice to newcomers entering the CTA industry, location independence, time management, stoicism, black swans, and the importance of routine.

Michael and Tom also go through listener questions spanning topics including: trading regrets, money management vs. trading, tinkering with current systems, drawdowns, one-system vs. multiple systems, thoughts on Alan Watts, emotions during both losing and winning periods, exit strategies, practice trading vs. live trading, money management, risk control, how to handle skeptics, serenity, John W. Henry, coin flip entry method, percent betting, comfort with uncertainty, initial capital at risk vs. unrealized gains, and fighting against your gut reaction. This podcast includes a wealth of knowledge worth listening to over and over again.

Nov 20, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Brett Steenbarger. This is his 2nd appearance on Trend Following Radio. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York State University, author of “The Daily Trading Coach,” “The Psychology of Trading,” and “Enhancing Trader Performance.” His newest work is “Trading Psychology 2.0: From Best Practices to Best Processes.”

Michael and Brett start the podcast off by asking the question, “Do people really have that burning desire to succeed?” Brett says he does believe traders are drawn to trading for the money outcome, but also for the allure of not working a 9-5 job or the dream of scoring easy riches. Brett breaks it apart further by explaining the motivations for different traders: Practice and process are essential. He says, “You hear traders talk about finding your edge and sticking to your edge.” Finding your edge is a continual process because the markets are forever changing. You must adapt.

Brett goes on to discuss the importance of back-testing and how valuable it is to your strategy. He gives the example that elite performers spend more time in preparation than in performance. That preparation helps develop a strategy and prepare the performer mentally. It pushes the performer to develop the best of what they are doing. Brett then details the difference between repeated performance and deliberate practice.

Creativity is the next big topic discussed. Brett says it’s an individual’s creativity that breaks them away from the herd. A trader that has the creativity to diversify and test new strategies. Brett then touches on what it means to “trade your personality,” how paramount it is to have the right trading mentor, and the advantages of creating a checklist to bring out your best practices and make them routine. Lastly, Michael and Brett dig into the necessity of eating, sleeping, physical exercise, and yoga to help fuel a positive emotional experience in life and in trading. If you have been having trouble with the psychological aspects of your trading, this episode is for you.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • The emotional “buy in”
  • Checklists
  • Finding a smooth equity curve
  • Repeated performance vs. deliberate practice
  • The role of fitness and health in trading
  • The moment of now
  • Systems trading vs. discretionary trader
  • Relationship between volatility and volume
Nov 16, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel talks critical thinking and behavioral finance. He begins with an article excerpt about locker room etiquette and loops around to the parallels between sports psychology and trading psychology. Michael argues that critical thinking has gone by the way side in the general populace and if you have an alternate way of thinking, one that is not with the masses, then you have a leg up.

Digging in Michael explores excerpts from a paper by Howard Marks titled, “Inspiration from the World of Sports.” The paper outlines the consistencies between sports and trading. Michael discusses bullet points from the article; 1. Trading and sports are competitive. Some succeed and some fail, and the distinction is clear. 2. In the long term the better returns go to superior investors. 3. An investment career can feel like a basketball or football game with an unlimited number of quarters.

Michael also explores from Howard Marks the career of Yogi Berra, his achievements and his baseball philosophy. Howard points out how consistent Yogi was in his performance and how that is exactly what he likes to see in his investing. Howard then compares Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson (Reggie was far less consistent then Yogi). Howard says that he would rather have returns like Yogi, nice and consistent. Michael argues the case for trading like Reggie’s baseball performance. He says the Reggie Jackson home run model is more in line with venture capital, film financing, the MIT blackjack team, and trend following trading, for example. The point being that home runs will pay for the strike outs. Michael ends the podcast by pointing out that Reggie and Yogi are ultimately in the same game, but it is up to you to decide what style of trading you want.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Consistency vs. the home run
  • Quarterly performance
  • Trend following performance
  • Emotion in human nature
  • Irrationality in investing
Nov 13, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Jim Rickards. Jim was front and center during the 1998 LTCM blow-up. He was a partner and general counsel for Long Term Capital Management. Following their blowup, he was principal negotiator in the 1998 bailout of LTCM by the Federal Reserve. He has had a bird’s eye view of some of the most interesting events in the economy over the last 20 years.

Michael and Jim dive right into the sequence of events that lead to the devaluation of the Thai Baht in May of 1997. Jim then goes into the chronology of events that took place leading to the fall of Long Term Capital Management. He makes clear that LTCM had some of the brightest brains in finance working for them at the time, including Nobel Prize winners and a vast number of PhD’s from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, etc. Jim summarizes the events prompting Russia to default on their debt which let loose a sequence of events leading to LTCM losing four billion dollars in one month. Wall Street cared not for the four billion LTCM loss but because they had over 1 trillion dollars of derivatives contracts tied to LTCM positions. Many thought all of Wall Street would have been taken down if LTCM went down. That was when the Fed intervened and organized a bailout.

Jim goes on to talk about the changes that took place and the lessons that were learned from the fall of LTCM. He says the three lessons that should have been taken away from the crisis were; derivatives are dangerous, leverage is dangerous and getting banks involved is dangerous. The changes started with repealing Glass Steagall in 1999, rewriting laws so they could do “swaps” on everything, and then in 2006 the SEC changed leverage rules on brokers. So in short regulators ended up doing the complete opposite of what they should have learned from LTCM. Michael asks the question, “Why were the same people who were saying that the economy was great till the day it crashed, the same people that were responsible for fixing it?” Jim says policy makers never see bubbles. He gives two possible explanations for why policy makers act as they do; conspiracy or complete incompetence. He believes it is more incompetence rather than a conspiracy and goes on to explain why.

Michael and Jim then dive into “models”. If you have the wrong models you will get the wrong results every time. Michael notes that the right models are rooted in behavioral finance. Jim notes that the Fed does not use behavioral economics. Jim talks about the three elements that his model is based on: behavioral finance, complexity theory and inverse probability. He goes into great depth on what all of those models are and gives real life examples for them.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • 1997 devaluation of the Thai Baht
  • The collapse of Long Term Capital Management
  • The 2008 crisis
  • Complexity theory
  • Behavioral Finance
  • Inverse Probability
  • The Federal Reserve
  • Description of currency wars
Nov 9, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Kathleen Eisenhardt. Kathleen is Co-Author of the best selling book “Simple Rules.” She is also the Co-Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. Her book’s foundation is based on the argument that too much structure and too many rules don’t get products out the door and the other extreme, no rules or structure tend to not produce results either. In short, simplicity beats complexity. Her book “Simple Rules” is not just about rules in business, but in all aspects of life; sports, entertainment, investing, diets, etc.

Kathleen defines simple rules as shortcuts that save on time and are more commonly known as, “rules of thumb” (heuristics). Michael and Kathleen pull in examples from Google, Netflix, The White Stripes, Billy Bean and the Oakland A’s, General Motors, Stanford football and an expedition in the South Pole launched in 1912. Kathleen shows in all the scenarios how people who modeled the past failed and how the simple route conquered the complex every time. She stresses that the philosophy, psychology, and the system itself may not be so simple, but the rules to follow are.

Kathleen and Michael go on to discuss people who make a living out of of being complicated. Lawyers, accountants, lobbyists make a living out of having a lot of rules nobody can decipher. Kathleen discusses the differences in risk adverse people, more strategic people and the people who just go ahead and wing it in business and in life. Kathleen explains her three step process in creating simpler guidelines. “Bottleneck” is the 2nd rule in the three step process. The “Bottleneck” is what keeps you from getting to the objective. It’s what holds you up from moving forward. You solve the bottleneck and you have solved your problem.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  •     Bottleneck concept
  •     Complexity is not always best
  •     Tax code for political gain
  •     Simplifying government
  •     Improving your probabilities with rules
  •     The Federal Reserve
Nov 6, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Rob Walling. Rob may not be a trader, but he is a serial entrepreneur. And trading at its heart, after all, is an entrepreneurial activity. Rob started early. When he was eight his parents purchased an Apple computer and he learned to code to create video games, and when he got into college he realized coding could be profitable. He asked himself, “What can I do that I can leverage?” In the late 90’s he got his first paid job writing code for a consulting firm and around 2007/2008 he transitioned full time into creating and producing his own products.

Rob talks about learning from every job and every encounter. He speaks to real life experience and how it is paramount to success. Rob was passionate from the start about coding. He did it long before he thought it could be a paying gig. Michael and Rob also give examples of why you need to start at the beginning and figure out how to build your audience. If you are in your 20’s you especially need to realize that you don’t know everything. You are missing something. No matter how smart and motivated you are, you need that real life experience.

When trying to start your business Rob gives examples such as: pick a few people that resonate with you and focus in on them, only take the information you need at that point in time, and above all, stop shooting for the Zuckerberg “dream”. He sees so many businesses trying to be a “one hit wonder”. They aren’t thinking about building a business that is going to last. Rob has a straight forward approach to bootstrapping called the stair-step approach that he outlines on the podcast (as well as on his website).

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Rob Walling’s “Stair-Step Approach”
  • Growth hackers
  • The act of creating
  • Focusing on the “Unicorn” rather than reality
  • Filtering your information
  • Skin deep information
Nov 2, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael talks the timelessness of sticking with your system. Michael uses Jack Schwager and his books Market Wizards and The New Market Wizards as prime examples of timelessness. Although they were written years back, he argues they have not lost an ounce of value in today’s trading world. Michael harps on critics that say the Market Wizards books have no place in 2015 markets, noting that one of the great concepts introduced in Schwagers’ books was the notion of “systems”. Although the concept of having a system had been around for over 100 years, Schwager was one of the first to present and teach in an interview format.

Michael then segues into a clip with Howard Lindzon of Stock Twits. Howard further makes the point that having “Any system is better than no system”. He goes on to say, “You have to have a system to beat another system.” Howard talks about Jerry Parker, his trading style and why he has become so successful. Covel asks listeners, “What kind of system do you want? What are the risks and rewards? There are all kinds of systems out there. Have you done the work to find out the pros and cons? What kind of life do you want to have?” The system you choose will dictate that. People who tell you the Schwager books are dated are the same people that will sell you anything. These people go off of gut, intuition or even magical feelings, and that is their decision-making process. Trust that the highest achievers and money-makers on Wall Street trust their systems, painstakingly researched and developed. When times are good they leave it alone, and when times are bad they leave it alone.

Covel plays one last legacy excerpt from Bill Dunn. Dunn lays out that his approach is long term trend following and quantitative. His company does not override their signals ever and they have serious risk management programs in place. They have a 1% probability of losing 20% or more in a one month period. However, the client can choose more or less risk. He shows how his firm does not correlate with the S&P and their positions and trades are completely transparent to their clients. Dunn makes it clear that his performance is not a result of anyone’s judgment. It is a result of long tested simulations and models. Timelessness personified.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Human nature doesn’t change
  • Timelessness
  • Behavioral finance
  • Sticking with a system
  • Risk management
  • Bill Dunn on trend following
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