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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: December, 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.

Dec 28, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael starts off discussing his travel. One of his stops in early December was New York City to meet up with a few legends, one of them being Larry Hite. He talks a bit about their lunch conversation and how Larry has climbed the ladder of success. Larry paints the picture that he was just an average Joe from Brooklyn, and his success is fully obtainable if the right desire and drive is there.

Today's subject on Trend Following Radio goes along the lines of the rest of his conversation with Larry Hite. It’s all about the data. Michael makes it clear that his career would not exist if he did not have the opportunity to dig into the trend following data. You see all types of trend following traders up in the same months and down in the same months–that means something. Doesn’t matter why it happened, just that it happened. Further, many make the mistake of not caring about the psychological. You can have the best system under the sun, but if you don’t have the psychological toughness to carry it out then the system does not matter.

Michael goes on to read from an article out of The Washington Post titled, “Jeff Samardzija just proved athletes would be foolish to pick NFL over MLB.” America’s favorite sport is football, hands down. The dream of just about every father in America is for his son to play professional football. However, all data says to stop right now and turn your focus to baseball. The article states, “The top 30 contracts in the history of team sports – ranked by total compensation – all went to baseball players.” When you compare average players in the MLB with top players in the NFL, the MLB still comes out on top. “Through this season, [Calvin] Johnson will have collected $113,816,086 in earnings, making him one of the wealthiest non-quarterbacks in league history. Samardzija, by virtue of the five-year contract he just signed with the San Francisco Giants, is guaranteed to have earnings of $122,725,000 – and have another chance to dip into the till in 2021, when he’ll turn 36.” Mike pulls the article back to trend following showing that trend following numbers have made it and persevered through ups and downs. It may not be the most widely known strategy, but the data is real.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • The success of Larry Hite
  • Baseball vs. Football
  • Trusting the data
Dec 25, 2015

Today on Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Thomas Sterner, author of “The Practicing Mind.” Tom was in the same career for over 30 years when he decided to make a switch. He self published the first edition of “The Practicing Mind,” and as it snowballed into a phenomenon, publishers started knocking at his door for wider distribution.

This is about practicing focus and learning to calm your mind. Not an easy task in today’s world with media constantly telling us we are incomplete in what we are doing. People incessantly crave closure, but closure is not always the answer. Tom says that immersing yourself in something that is ongoing puts you in a place of “being.” People are always trying to complete the next level, but being in a state of constant expansion is the best state to be in. He says that even the process of writing books does not have a beginning and an end. He looks at it as an ongoing process. When one book ends, then you can move on from saying what you needed to say and move onto the next phase of what you want to be said. Tom shares a personal story about becoming a musician. For years he had felt inadequate as a musician. It took some time but eventually he figured out that he had accomplished many milestones throughout his career but because he had a limitless ability to expand and grow as a musician, he would never reach the state of perfection he envisioned. Almost in an instant, his frustration and negative thoughts about his accomplishments washed away.

The importance of repetition is Michael and Tom’s next topic. Your brain responds to repeated action best. This can vary from swinging a golf club over and over again, to how you meet people and interact with them. Tom says, “Attention combined with intention is the goal.” Your process and repeated practice is what makes achieving a goal feel so good. Anything you can snap your fingers and have doesn’t feel nearly as rewarding. He says that “Your perception of what good is and how good you can get is ever changing.”

Lastly, Michael and Tom discuss multitasking and living in the moment of now. Tom says that the way we envision multitasking doesn’t exist. When you think you are doing a bunch of different things simultaneously, you are not. The brain is operating at higher speeds but we are not letting our brains concentrate in one area for a long amount of time so in consequence, our brain is atrophying. We are losing that part of our mental game. Slowing your mind down brings clarity and thought. Secondly it connects your mind to what you are doing. If you are just reacting to whatever your mind is creating than you have no control over what you are doing. Mindfulness is not something that can be mastered. You have to constantly work at it just like you would never say “I have mastered fitness so I don’t need to work out anymore.” It is a constant practice. The moment you catch your mind running off is when you start training your brain. If you can recognize yourself chasing your mind then that is being aware of where it is going. Mike says, “It is like an organized treadmill that everyone is on. There is this lack of awareness among people that they are not in control.”

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Attention combined with intention
  • Non-judgment
  • Perils of multitasking
  • Controlling your mind
  • Constant media chatter
Dec 21, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel starts off with a short clip from Star Wars. Michael notes that Yoda and the force have unexpected connections with trend following. He then recounts a story that happened to him a few weeks ago where he feels “the force” was involved. While he was waiting to take a red eye to Tokyo with his parents a man asked if he could share the power outlet he was using. That man happened to be one of the world’s most famous computing pioneers. Michael agreed to share the outlet if he could take a selfie with him. It was a weird serendipitous moment that Michael attached “the force.”

Michael goes on to read from an article titled, “Meet David Harding: The Man Behind Models that Beat the Market,” published in The Australian Financial Review. The article highlights Harding’s accomplishments and views on trading. Harding stresses in the article that the only reason systematic trading has gotten big over the years is because it works. Harding’s company, Winton Capital Management, goes completely against the efficient market hypothesis and he has actually made massive money going against the theory. David goes on to say that investment management is an internal psychological war with yourself. You constantly doubt yourself but the challenge is rising above that self doubt and sticking with your system. If you allow every emotion to be built into your system then you do not have a system at all.

“Over-fitting and It’s Impact on the Investor” by the Man AHL Academic Advisory Board is Michael’s next interest. Over-fitting is finding patterns that aren’t actually there. It is a common phenomenon in science as well as trading and other fields of study. Analyzing a companies culture is a good way to produce less over-fitting results. Michael quotes different view points regarding the concept of over-fitting, finishing up with inspirational quotes by NBA player Kevin Garnett and Christopher Hitchens focused on “making it happen.”

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Star Wars and “The Force“
  • Efficient Market Hypothesis
  • Over-fitting in trading
  • Rising above self doubt
Dec 18, 2015

Today on Trend Following Radio Michael interviews Dave Huss. Dave discusses his transition from marketing consultant to entrepreneur. Formerly Dave did consulting work for paid advertising and now has transitioned into t-shirt design and sales (Michael notes that famed trader Salem Abraham had considered the t-shirt business before trading). He has been able to grow his business quickly due to a website called www.teespring.com. This website allows him to order shirts on-demand without any out of pocket expenses.

Dave comes at t-shirt sales in a trend following manor. One out of every ten shirts that he puts out will be a big winner. He makes it clear that it is very important he has a system. He limits his cost to $20 per shirt for advertising. If he doesn’t get a positive response from his $20 advertising push then he stops. He lets the market decide which t-shirt designs are worth pursuing. He has put out 500+ designs just this year. Six out of ten times he sells zero shirts. Three out of ten of those shirts sell 20 or 30 units and he breaks even, but one out of ten shirts will sell over 1,000 units. He never knows which will be the home run and which designs are going to be the duds.

Dave stresses how online marketing has become more and more a part of our lives. You have to participate in online marketing if you are going to have any kind of business these days. You find your most passionate fans in your business and hit them at the right time. You can’t put your head in the sand and think your business is going to make it.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Contract work vs. Entrepreneur
  • Niche markets
  • Online marketing
  • Importance of a system
  • Survivorship bias
Dec 14, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel features Larry Hite. Larry is unquestionably one of the founding fathers of systematic trend following. In 1981 he founded Mint Investments and by 1990 it was one of the largest trend following funds in the world. At the same time he formed partnership at Man group, which became wildly successful as well. In 2000 he decided to go another direction, focusing on proprietary trading and research, founding Hite Capital Management. Currently, Larry is partnered at ISAM with his long time colleague Stanley Fink.

Throughout today’s podcast Michael pulls quotes and excerpts straight from Larry’s chapter in “The Little Book of Trading.” Quotes range from probability advice to compound interest and one or all of them are certain to spark certain “Ah-ha” moments. Michael starts with Larry giving advice on the notion of being wrong. Larry stresses that being wrong is ok. He was wrong often and always built the possibility of being wrong into his models. He would ask himself, “How much can I afford to lose?” And work his risk in from there. Hite found that even having perfect knowledge of an end of year price wouldn’t guarantee riches. His research proved that you could only bet with 3:1 leverage on a stock, even if you had absolute knowledge of the stocks year end price, because you can’t predict the path a market might take getting there. Respecting leverage is key. Michael then brings up a dating story Larry shared about probabilities.

Michael then goes into Larry’s risk management. He stresses, “Make sure you are as prepared as possible. You can’t know everything but you can certainly be prepared.” Larry always starts from an assumed position of ignorance. You have to know what you don’t know. If you know what the worst possible outcome can be from the outset then you are starting with a great advantage. Mike finishes with one last excerpt from Larry taken from a paper titled “Life is a Bet.” In this excerpt Larry outlines why life is just a serious of bets. Some are large and some are small. Some seem trivial and some seem to have far greater impact on our lives. However, those trivial bets can quickly become paramount. Never discount a decision. It could be the one that makes or breaks you.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Respecting leverage
  • Thinking in terms of odds
  • Being wrong is OK
  • Getting the odds on your side
  • Risk management
  • Life is a series of bets
Dec 11, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Didier Sornette. He is Professor on the Chair of Entrepreneurial Risks at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. He is also a professor of the Swiss Finance Institute, associated with both the department of Physics and the department of Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich. He has worked on the King effect, a theory used to predict economic bubbles. Didier also set up the Financial Crisis Observatory in October of 2008. He brings an interesting perspective to financial crisis’s, and bubbles.

Didier first realized his fascination with financial bubbles back in 1989. He received a grant to try and solve the equation of prediction. Didier goes on to discuss the different theories that stemmed from his research. A few years later, when the housing crisis hit the U.S., he founded The Financial Crisis Observatory. He founded it as a psychological response to the discourse he had with the markets. People didn’t have a clear view of what was happening. Nobody seemed to know how it happened, but to Didier it was so obvious and natural that the crisis occurred. He wanted to help inform people better with his observatory by showing concrete steps that lead to the housing collapse and other crashes that came before it.

Michael and Didier then go into discussing black swans. Didier does not believe in black swans because they relate to “surprise events.” He says that crisis’s are actually not surprise events at all. They can be expected and are human related. Instead, Didier believes in a notion he calls “Dragon Kings.” His theory is called Dragon Kings because a King is a special person in a country, and dragon means of unique origin. Dragon Kings is how he describes his version of, “surprise events.” Michael and Didier move onto talking about how the world is out of equilibrium. The world is consistently battered with surprises therefore the equilibrium is always off. A lot of economists refuse to acknowledge this and policy makers are not well educated on the subject. Lastly they talk about Didier’s financial bubble experiment. Didier then goes into his background in physics saying it gave him tools to look at things outside the box. Nature doesn’t function in disciplines just like our minds do not work in silos or disciples.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • The adaptive market hypothesis
  • Dragon Kings vs. Black Swans
  • New economy syndrome
  • Predictive markets
  • Finite singularity
  • Equilibrium of the world
Dec 7, 2015

Michael starts today’s podcast reading the biography of bestselling author Napoleon Hill. Napoleon was born in 1883 and died in 1970. He is most known for paving the way for the new thought and personal success movement with his book, “Think and Grow Rich,” which has become one of the best selling books of all time. Its premise is to help people realize they have the power to create success within themselves by way of conscious and unconscious thought. His message is straightforward, pragmatic and clear.

For the remainder of the podcast Michael plays a presentation by Napoleon. The presentation is centered on making a goal and how to use certain tools to achieve that goal. Napoleon starts off by explaining the power of motives. He says you have no right to ask yourself or anyone to do something unless you give an adequate motive. If you give someone a good enough motive to buy something from you or give yourself a a worthwhile reason to achieve a goal you can sell or accomplish anything. You can also trick your mind to believe anything by repetitive action. If you have faith in what you want to accomplish you will accomplish it. On the same note, faith without action is dead and faith without believing is dead. Napoleon believed that 98%-100% of people sell themselves short because they do not believe in themselves. He says, “The power of thought is the only thing humans have absolute control over.” By repetition, thought, and action you can educate your brain to pick up only the vibrations related to what you want. He stresses that you must make sure your subconscious mind knows you are the boss.

The power of motives, thought, and faith in yourself all goes into being able to create and carry out a plan successfully. Napoleon says to write out your major objective in life and give it a timeline. Make sure it is clear and precise. Keep your major purpose to yourself. Your actions speak for themselves, and the envy of mankind can slow you down. Also, leave your plan flexible. Nobody can put limitations on you except for yourself. With that being said, acknowledge your weaknesses but don’t let them overtake you. If you keep your mind positive, it becomes greater than all the negatives.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Conditioning your unconscious mind
  • Setting goals
  • Laws of nature
  • Vibrations of thought
  • Using your greatest asset
  • Individual power
Dec 4, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Barbara Fredrickson. Barbara is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology, and the Principal Investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina. She is a social psychologist that conducts research in emotions and positive psychology. Her main work is related to her Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions which suggests that positive emotions lead to novel, expansive or exploratory behavior, and that over time these actions lead to meaningful long term resources such as knowledge and social relationships.

The podcast starts with Michael asking, “When did this fascination start with you?” Barbara explains that she has had a curiosity with emotional behavior all her life, but it was in college when she realized that almost all research was centered around negative emotions. She began being influenced by evolutionary science, neurosciences, and behavioral changes that occur with emotions. She sees her job as figuring out why positive emotions matter, and why they are important. All emotions have specific action tendencies whether negative or positive. She believes that positive emotions broaden our horizons and negative emotions have values that are much more narrow and specific. Positive emotions bring awareness. They help us become better versions of ourselves. Barbara goes on to explain that it’s not the intensity of positive emotions that are important, it’s the frequency. They are like waves, they arrive and then dissipate. Positive emotions don’t typically have as powerful of moments as negative emotions and that is why Barbara believes they have eluded the interest of scientists for so long.

Michael then brings up Barbara’s work with “the undoing effect.” Barbara expands on this hypothesis by saying, “It first started when other scientists looked at the physiological signature of emotions.” The undoing effect counters the current notion that negative emotions have a signature and positive ones do not. The study showed that positive emotions actually act as reset buttons to your negative emotions. Lastly, Barbara helps listeners look at love through the lens of an emotions scientist. She explains that when we share positive emotions with multiple people it is more effective than when we experience that same emotion individually. She also points out that love is made up of micro moments of positive experiences rather than long lasting ongoing experiences.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Inner-experiences and well being
  • The undoing effect
  • Positive negative ratio
  • The body’s definition of love
  • Depression
  • The idea of soul mates
  • Emotional connections
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