Mark Blyth is a political scientist from Scotland and a professor of international political economy at Brown University.
What influenced Mark early on? John Maynard Keynes was his foundation. He also was growing up through the permanent recessions of the 1980’s and learning first hand about pitfalls in the economy. He quickly saw how the macro economy was so much different than the micro and how studying the economy as a whole was more important than just looking at the individual.
Mark called the Donald Trump win for Presidency in June of 2016. Why? Trump was willing to acknowledge there was a problem. He was dramatically different and played to the individual rather than big business. In 2015 Wall Street bonuses were twice the amount of the total wages of people earning minimum wage. Since that 2015 statistic, the inequality has only gotten greater. Trump gave people hope that things can change – that he could change them.
What are some macro steps that can get the U.S. economy heading in the right direction today? Dissolve monopolies and raise corporate taxes creating long-term productivity gains. Because of tax ride-offs a monopolized economy has been created. The government has allowed and engineered large businesses to run America and it’s time to re-arrange the model. Another problem? Americans have become dependent on passive investing and don’t know what to do when volatility happens. They have become blind to risk, due to lack of volatility for the last 10 years. Michael and Mark end on the question: “Can the economy sustain the next 10 years like this?”
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Raising interest rates
General data protection regulation
Efficient market hypothesis
Markets and Profit with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio.
Jerry Muller is a professor of history at The Catholic University of America, where he has taught since 1984. His latest book is “The Tyranny of Metrics.” Quantifying metrics can be a good thing, however, it can easily go too far and have great consequences.
Jerry sees pitfalls of focusing too much on metrics everywhere – schools, hospitals, even venture capital. Children gear their learning toward beating a test rather than intellectually developing their mind. Doctors fixate on standardized performance measures, rewards and punishment, and publicized accountability. The system encourages and sometimes requires doctors to game the system. Venture capitalism, the very field where creativity should prosper, tends to foster an anti-creative atmosphere. Investors want to see data to back up a new product so they can see proof of a future profit. The problem? New innovations don’t have data because they have never been seen before in the marketplace.
Using metrics in schools, hospitals, and business can be extremely useful depending on what context it is used, but alone they are not enough. Human development as well as human experience should be weaved into the equation. Michael and Jerry finish the podcast up talking metrics in China, how it has lead to gaming the system and taken a toll on developing research.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Tyranny of metrics
Metrics in law enforcement
Metrics in health industry
Metrics in China
Michael plays three epic interviews with Ed Seykota, Martin Lueck and Jean-Philippe Bouchaud profiled in chapter’s 12, 13 and 14 of his newest edition of Trend Following: How to Make a Fortune in Bull, Bear and Black Swan Markets.
Ed Seykota was originally profiled in the classic book “The Market Wizards.” Seykota has played a pivotal role in the growth of trend following trading for 40 years.
Martin Lueck holds an M.A. in Physics from Oxford University and currently is the Research Director and President of Aspect Capital. Lueck was originally with Adam, Harding and Lueck Limited (AHL), which he co-founded with Michael Adam and David Harding.
Jean-Philippe Bouchaud is founder and Chairman of Capital Fund Management (CFM) and professor of physics at École polytechnique.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Death of trend following
Exploiting vs. exploring
Christopher Ryan is best known for co-authoring “Sex at Dawn.” The book deals with the evolution of monogamy in humans and human mating systems. In opposition to what the authors see as the “standard narrative” of human sexual evolution, they contend that having multiple sexual partners was common and accepted in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness.
What was the start of Christopher going doing his path? One of the more pivotal moments was when he was an undergraduate in college. He was able to skip his junior year of college and subsequently hitchhiked to Alaska. Before that journey to Alaska, he thought the world was a dangerous place. Once he got outside his bubble and met strangers, he learned how kind and generous people were. It shifted the way he thought about life and the world.
After graduating he spent his 20’s and 30’s backpacking through Asia and South America. His a-ha moment was realizing that most of what he was told about the world was bullshit. Governments have an agenda and prop up their society to make other places seem less superior. Christopher quickly saw that the cultural message telling us that it’s a “dog eat dog world” was not true.
There are different attributes that everyone shares. What is universal? What do we all share? Consciousness, sexuality, comedy, etc. these are all things that translate across cultures and continents. Learning about these things is what excites Christopher and why he continues to learn, study and teach.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Hunter and gatherer society
Culture of women sexuality
Sexual transmitted disease
War on masturbation
Michael shares the Preface and Chapter One of his book, “The Complete TurtleTrader.” “The Complete TurtleTrader” is a classic nature vs. nurture story starring famed traders Richard Dennis and Bill Eckhardt. Are people born with the innate ability to trade? Or can it be taught? Dennis believed that anyone could be taught to trade successful with the right set of rules, Eckhardt disagreed – and from there this epic experiment was born. These men took 23 novice traders, gave them millions and taught them how to be successful on Wall Street.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Nature vs. Nurture
Beating the market
Bryan Caplan is an economist and professor of economics at George Mason University, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and blogger for EconLog. Bryan has written several books–his newest being “The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.” His main goal for the book is for people to forget education propaganda, look at what is right in front of them and examine what they have learned first hand.
From a young age Bryan always wondered, “Why do I need to learn this stuff? I am never going to use it.” The further he got along in school the more passionate he became about that belief. Yet it wasn’t until he started studying economics that he found there were other like-minded people who thought how he was thinking.
What is the problem with everyone getting a college degree? To stand out you now need to get another degree. Credential inflation has only gone up. People are spending too many years studying subjects that do not interest them, just to graduate and never use that information again. They get multiple degrees to do a job that would have only taken a high school diploma 30 years ago. It has been ingrained in so many that the education system enriches lives. However, the wall between formal education and practical education is ever growing. Bryan doesn’t hate education, he just believes people need to be more realistic about their interests and learning capabilities.
Michael and Bryan finish up discussing Bryan’s new books coming out about poverty and immigration policy.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Equality without losing quality
College vs. no college
Problem solving vs. memorization
Integrating more play in schools
53% of Millennials expect to become a millionaire at some point in their life. That is a lot of optimism without a lot of math. Building off that survey Michael quotes some research from a man named Ned Davis titled “Was I too Correct for My Own Good.” Ned is more pessimistic than the Millennials. He see’s the present economy as an uphill battle for making money rather than Millennials who think the money will just fall from the tree’s.
If you can stand outside the crowd and accept the notion of failure you have a great opportunity to succeed over the course of a lifetime. Imagining you are going to make a million dollars without a process is obtuse. Have a good process and stick with it. Michael ends with wisdom from “The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety” by Alan Watts.
Harvey Silverglate is an events attorney with 51 years of experience practicing in courts throughout the country. Harvey is the co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education where he serves as the current Chairman of the Board of Directors. He is also author of “Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.”
What is Harvey’s current view on the President? He is not a Trump supporter, but does not agree with Robert Mueller and how the legal system is systematically trying to pin him. What Trump has done may be politically unpalatable to some, but he is not doing anything illegal. Harvey uses Mueller to show how an overreaching prosecutor bent on getting his agenda done–get’s it done. Justice, for the most part, has nothing to do with the American legal system today.
Harvey feels we are in an era where people look at the law in an objective way rather than with passion. Colleges pump out politically correct lawyers afraid of standing for what they believe in. Harvey is fighting to reverse that trend.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Why do people love preliminary polls? How did we get to the point where people believe polls are the end all? Prediction in a world that has become chaotic and unpredictable is a waste of time. Is it media that has perpetuated it? Focusing on the actual election day results, or in trading terms – the price, allows you to not be preoccupied with surrounding noise.
Michael replays an interview he recently had on Porter Stansberry’s podcast. Porter is a value investor and Michael, of course, comes at trading from a trend following perspective.
Trend following strategy
Timur Kuran is an economist, professor of economics and political Science, Gorter Family Professor in Islamic Studies at Duke University and author of “Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification.” His work spans economics, political science, history, and legal studies.
Timur is responsible for coining the term “preference falsification.” So what is preference falsification? It is the act of misrepresenting ones wants because of social pressures. There is a movement going through colleges where students feel they are being suppressed. They don’t feel they can express themselves because of fear they may be called a racist, sexist, etc. Despite America being seen as a country of freedom and self-expression, 90% of students feel they cannot speak freely or engage with professors and other students in lively debate.
What was the a-ha trigger moment that pushed Timur toward working on preference falsification? It happened while he was a PhD student studying economics. While learning about different theories, he looked around the classroom and knew not all of the students agreed or accepted the theories being taught. He felt uncomfortable himself challenging his professor and knew there was more to how he was feeling and how his classmates seemingly felt. This stayed in the back of his mind throughout his PhD program and he decided that after graduation he would start working on his new theory.
Timur uses the 2016 U.S. election between Clinton and Trump as an example of preference falsification. Trump showed he wasn’t afraid to take on the establishment, no matter how high up they may be. He challenged the media, a war hero, and other politicians and made them look like victimizers. Trump understood “the thinkable” and “the unthinkable.” By tapping into unthinkable thoughts that had never been articulated by other politicians, Trump gave hope to millions of people who otherwise may have discounted him. Timur also uses the 2011 Egyptian uprising as well as the caste system in India as other examples.
Aaron Brown is a finance practitioner, expert on risk management and gambling, speaks frequently at professional and academic conferences and author of “Red-Blooded Risk,” “The Poker Face of Wall Street,” and co-author of “A World of Chance.” He was Chief Risk Manager at AQR Capital Management and one of the original developers of value at risk.
At 8 or 9 years old Aaron would read the newspaper everyday just to see the sports and Wall Street numbers. Over time, he started to see patterns in those numbers and felt he might be able to make money off it. He came across a book at his library that mathematically proved he could “beat the house.” At age 14 Aaron knew he could walk into a poker game and walk out with his opponents money. He gambled into his early 20’s until he realized the real money to be made was on Wall Street.
How does Aaron define being a quant? Someone who makes calculations and then bets on those calculations. Clients are drawn to Aaron because he is known for being able to solve problems most cannot. That being said, he only takes on problems where he knows there is a solution. When hired, Aaron disrupts systems mainly because he operates on the opposite side of Wall Street. He unveils flaws in systems – disrupting sales and creating more work for developers.
Michael and Aaron finish up discussing, “What is a black swan event?” It is a low probability, high impact event because it was unexpected. Drawing from Nassim Taleb’s wisdom, “People over estimate the last event happening again and underestimate the next crisis.”
Cyrus Farivar is a Senior Tech Policy Reporter at Ars Technica, radio producer and author of “Habeas Data: Privacy vs. the Rise of Surveillance Tech.” Cyrus sees the privacy battle as an ever winding, never-ending road. Privacy is hard, national security is hard, law enforcement is hard but Cyrus is optimistic we can strike a good balance between all three.
Do we really know the extent to which we are being watched? Probably not. Surveillance technology affects us all – for better or worse. For example, nearly half of Americans are in facial recognition data bases. In addition, most Americans have a drivers license, identification card, or passport – putting just about every adult into a government system.
Does this mean privacy is dead? Not necessarily. Some things will continue to be private. Cyrus lays out some companies that build their whole business model around keeping the information of their clients secure from any outsiders – whether it be a private citizen or the government.
Having heightened security and better technology has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Obvious disadvantage? Loss of privacy. What is one advantage? Law enforcement can not only use surveillance to catch bad guys, but it can also be used to keep themselves in check. Just about every person has a phone with great video technology. Everything is recorded and everything can be seen. Michael and Cyrus end the conversation discussing the controversy around aerial surveillance and private use of drones.
@Naval is an angel investor Michael follows on Twitter. Michael shares a Twitter post he had titled: “How to Get Rich Without Getting Lucky,” weaving in his commentary throughout. The bullet points:
1. Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy. 2. Understand that ethical wealth creation is possible. If you secretly despise wealth, it will elude you. 3. Ignore people playing status games. They gain status by attacking people playing wealth creation games. 4.You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity - a piece of a business - to gain your financial freedom. 5. You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale. 6. Pick an industry where you can play long term games with long term people. 7. The Internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers. Most people haven't figured this out yet. 8. lay iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest. 9. Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity. 10. Don't partner with cynics and pessimists. Their beliefs are self-fulfilling. 11. Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable. 12. Arm yourself with specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage.
13. Specific knowledge is knowledge that you cannot be trained for. If society can train you, it can train someone else, and replace you. 14. Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now. 15. Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you but will look like work to others. 16. When specific knowledge is taught, it’s through apprenticeships, not schools. 17. Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative. It cannot be outsourced or automated. 18. Embrace accountability, and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage. 19. The most accountable people have singular, public, and risky brands: Oprah, Trump, Kanye, Elon. 20. “Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand, and I will move the earth.” - Archimedes 21. Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media). 22. Capital means money. To raise money, apply your specific knowledge, with accountability, and show resulting good judgment. 23. Labor means people working for you. It's the oldest and most fought-over form of leverage. Labor leverage will impress your parents, but don’t waste your life chasing it. 24. Capital and labor are permissioned leverage. Everyone is chasing capital, but someone has to give it to you. Everyone is trying to lead, but someone has to follow you. 25. Code and media are permissionless leverage. They're the leverage behind the newly rich. You can create software and media that works for you while you sleep. 26. An army of robots is freely available - it's just packed in data centers for heat and space efficiency. Use it. 27. If you can't code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts. 28. Leverage is a force multiplier for your judgment. 29. Judgment requires experience, but can be built faster by learning foundational skills. 30. There is no skill called “business.” Avoid business magazines and business classes.
All fundamental data, insights, and prediction, reduces to price. Price is the foundation for all trading. Michael caught a reminder of this in a recent twitter debate with Elon Musk. A NBC reporter challenged Musk on his insights and wanted him to come by the news room to have an interview and see his “process”. Michael reads the debate between the reporter, Musk and Scott Adams (creator of the Dilbert comic strip). Michael weaves his commentary and insights throughout.
Daniel Klein is a professor of economics at George Mason University and an Associate Fellow of the Swedish Ratio Institute. Much of his research examines public policy questions, libertarian political philosophy, and the sociology of academia. He is the chief editor of Econ Journal Watch.
When did Daniel first embrace the idea “liberty”? He was dissatisfied with the school system for most of his childhood. A friend asked him “Have you ever thought about why school sucks?” His friend explained that students don’t get to choose where they go to school, there is no private ownership, schools don’t have choice in curriculum etc. He quickly saw the system as a socialist operation and suddenly “Why school sucked” all made sense to him. This gave way to him falling into a free economic market, libertarian, and Austrian Economics way of thinking.
Into college he gradually discovered Adam Smith, David Hume, and other 18th century thinkers. Through research he saw that the word “liberal” was not used in a political sense until about the time of Adam Smith. People had thought of ideas associated with liberalism but when Smith came out with “The Wealth of Nations,” he finally put a name to this way of thinking. Regardless of whether people agreed with his politics or not, his ideas spread throughout the world.
To really understand the arc of liberalism throughout the years it is important to learn what happened in the past and see the progression. Today, terms such as “The left”, “Dem”, and “Progressive” are all terms that have been adopted by others to accept liberalism.
Agustín Fuentes is a primatologist and biological anthropologist focusing largely on human and non-human primate interaction, pathogen transfer, communication, cooperation, and human social evolution. His most recent book is “The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional.”
How did Agustín begin studying anthropology? From an early age he loved trying to figure out what made people tick. By studying other primates and what human ancestors did, he came to find that we are creative and imaginative in ways people didn’t think we had the capacity for.
Agustín found that through innovation, collaboration and creativity learning happens. What are some examples of innovation from our ancestors? Fire is one of the most basic, yet amazing discoveries of our ancestors. No species on the planet, besides humans, use fire. Use of fire gave humans the opportunity to change the composition of materials to mold utility items, change food composition, and provide the opportunity to break the day and night cycle.
Collaboration can be seen in instances of warfare. Are we inherently violent? Yes. Humans have the capacity for intense violence. However, when studying warfare, it is all about collaboration and putting your life on the line for the greater good of the army – not about who has the most violent army. Collaboration is the bottom line in when it comes to winning a war.
Once people were able to convey information with language, huge advancements were able to happen in creativity. In the last 100,000 years or so art happened, and humans were able to convey imagination. Speech and hearing coincided with art and showcased our capacity for creativity. Michael and Agustín finish the podcast talking diversity. Throughout the ages, diversity has been the norm for humans. When you get outside of your bubble, and explore the world a little, you see first hand the immense differences in advancements and innovation throughout cultures.
Frank Conway is host of the Economic Rockstar podcast. Michael made a recent appearance on Frank’s show and shares it today on his podcast:
Shane Snow is author of “Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart” and the bestseller, “Smartcuts.” Shane is also an award-winning journalist, celebrated entrepreneur, and co-founder of Contently.
When thinking about great teams we often think of just the best players. Shane uses the success of the Soviet Union’s 1980’s hockey team as an example and sheds light on what made them so uniquely successful. It was not the individuals that defined the success of the team, it was the collective team as a whole. Their team wasn’t about having a guy that could score a lot of points. Each player was dedicated to doing whatever they needed to do to get the hockey puck in the goal.
That 1980’s Soviet hockey team also fostered a diverse set of minds. Historically we reduce classifications to what we can see. Having a diverse team doesn’t just mean having people of a different race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. If you want a group to be smarter than its smartest member, you need a team of people who all think differently. This is where cognitive diversity is important – the best ideas often come from a round-table of minds debating. However, it can be easy to go too far when building a diverse team and end up with a group of people trying to destroy each other rather than cultivating innovative ideas.
What is the leading cause of failure in business and relationships? Communication. Combining various perspectives from people are what often adds up to one great new innovation. Looking at new angles is the only way to break new ground. Unfortunately, a lot of what we think is crazy gets shut out. Those crazy ideas are what need to be heard the most.
Matthew Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. His new book is “Why We Sleep.” Matthew’s mission is to reunite humanity with sleep.
How did Matthew begin studying sleep? He learned insufficient sleep is linked to ALL of the top killers in civilized countries. The average adult only sleeps 6 hours and 31 minutes. The disease and suffering that is present because of lack of sleep has become his motivator to instill change. So how much sleep do we need? If you are not getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a day, you are not acting at optimal performance. Most who think they can operate at full capacity with 6 hours of sleep have become numb to the state they live in. They have forgotten, or perhaps have never known, what their optimal performance looks and feels like.
Insufficient sleep is shown to lead to disease, cancer, mutating your DNA, and Alzheimer’s. Not only does lack of sleep hurt you in the long-term, it also has many short-term effects as well. When you are sleep deprived your brain is 40% less able to retain information. Some have legitimate sleep disorders, however 90-95% of people can change their sleep habits.
How can we help change our quality of sleep? Turn off the technology at night. Lights from the T.V., iPad, phone, etc. sends all the wrong signals to your brain. Melatonin does not get released at the time it should get released. Any kind of light is problematic within the last hour or so of when you should be getting ready for bed. Light, sleep procrastination and anticipatory anxiety are the three biggest problems related to too much technology before bed.
Aiding sleep with drugs or alcohol is a common misnomer. When you sleep with the aid of alcohol or sleeping pills they inhibit your ability to hit your REM cycle. The same is true for marijuana. These are methods of sedation, not actual sleep. Studies show that sleeping pills are associated with death and cancer. More specifically, you are 3-4 times more likely to die across a 2 ½ year period when taking sleeping pills, than those who do not taking sleeping pills. Michael and Matthew end the conversation breaking apart start times of schools and how crucial starting an hour or two later is to a student and their quality of learning.
Philip Maymin is an Associate Professor of Analytics and Finance at the University of Bridgeport Trefz School of Business. He is the managing editor of Algorithmic Finance and the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Sports Analytics. He has been an analytics consultant with several NBA teams and is the Chief Analytics Officer for Vantage Sports.
Philip brings the perspective of “Moneyball” to basketball. The Celtics, for example, have done a great job of putting players in positions that play to their strengths. They do this by analyzing the data of their players better than most other teams. High frequency data is in sports now, not just in trading. There are cameras in every professional basketball arena that produce play by play data showing summary statistics that coaching staff and in some instances, the public, can see.
Teams are producing models for how each player moves in combination with the other players on the court. The two most basic questions you ask of a player is “What does he do really well?” And “What does he do often?” Sometimes what players do often, doesn’t correlate to what they do well. Philip also discusses outlier players like Marcus Smart. He doesn’t have amazing scoring stats, blocking stats or anything else particularly extraordinary, yet when he is on the court, his team has a dramatically higher chance of winning.
How could we start going down the path of using data to create and put a team together? The myth is that GM’s are brilliant and have foresight on who to draft. If that were the case wouldn’t they be making dramatically more money? Also, how are they making decisions? GM’s mostly rely on their gut. Philip believes that EVERYTHING should be put in a system. If you take scouts opinions, analytics, GM’s opinions, etc. and put it all in a soup then you are just trading off your gut. You have essentially de-systematized the system.
Trend following has more in common with Jeff Bezos, blackjack or horseracing than Elliot Wave or Gann. Michael uses a dating example to show the edge gained in dating when approaching total strangers and the correlation to trading random markets. If you play the system right and stick with it, odds are, you will come out on top. Is this the way to play the game? It doesn’t sound romantic, but the playing field is messy whether it be in seduction, black jack or venture capital – you have to play it different.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Roy Baumeister is a social psychologist known for his work on the self, social rejection, belongingness, sexuality, sex differences, self-control, self-esteem, self-defeating behaviors, motivation, aggression, consciousness, and free will. Roy has also authored over 20 books throughout his career. He likes to start his research with the premise that he doesn’t know the right answer–trying to have an open mind and clean slate.
Roy started his career studying the idea of self-control. He looked at some of the major crutches people deal with–dieting, quitting smoking, controlling emotions. Roy found that everyone has a limited amount of energy and using that energy toward will power had a limited source of regulation. When people used their energy toward gaining self control in one area, they lost it in another. One way Roy found to boost energy and restore self control in patients was to give a patient glucose. It seemed to restore self-control in the patient, giving them a boost of energy.
Roy also has studied differences in people with high self-esteem as opposed to those with lower self-esteem. Improving self esteem didn’t seem to help make life better or lead to later success but improving self control did. Working on self control was shown to be more important for success than IQ or self esteem. Asian countries, for example, have much more discipline built into their culture than American culture. Roy’s studies have shown that Asians therefore require a lower IQ to be successful because their self control overpowers other inhibitors.
Michael and Roy finish their conversation talking sex. Is it more nature or nurture? Roy has found that female sexuality is more cultural and male sexuality is more nature. Do sex norms change based on female to male ratios? Yes. When you look at populations where there is an un-equal amount of men to women and visa versa the desire for one sex to acquire the attention of the other sex is shifted. Standards are lowered/heightened. Michael includes a 30 minute bonus presentation from Roy expanding on the topics discussed on today’s podcast.
Today’s podcast features chapters 3, 10 and the Epilogue from Michael’s newest edition of Trend Following taken from his audio book.
Principles and lessons woven throughout Trend Following are timeless and endure through whatever current event may be rolling through the news.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Volatility versus Risk
Risk, Reward, and Uncertainty
Your Trading System
Frequently Asked Questions
Alexander Elder has written some of the most popular trading books of the last 30 years. He grew up in Estonia among a successful family of doctors. Alexander followed in his family’s footsteps, becoming a doctor and making his way on a cargo ship. He ran from his ship to a U.S. Embassy, escaping from his country. His decision to jump ship was literally the best decision of his life. He is author of Trading for a Living, considered a modern classic among traders, an international best-seller, translated into 16 languages, and recently newly revised and released under the title, The New Trading for a Living. This is his second appearance on the show.
How is Alexander’s trading different? Alexander is motivated by creating quality. He has a sense and intuition for it. Someone who is losing money looks at their situation “like a rabbit running from a snake.” Alexander thinks differently. He trades by way of systems. He has his orders set for the day, goes skiing, then comes back to the computer to watch the last hour of trading to see if he needs to make any adjustments. He learns from his mistakes and makes sure his systems are the highest quality they can be.
What was the pivotal moment that broke Alexander into the trading direction he is in? There was not one moment, but many losing ones. He hates to lose. He overcame his losing over time with persistence and stubbornness. He studied his systems and trades vigorously until he had a winning system.
Another motivation? Knowing that failure was not an option. Alexander grew up in a successful family with money – If he failed in his home country, he would have been taken care of. However, now that he was in the United States, he knew if he failed he would be on the street. There would be nobody to take care of him. Do you hit rock bottom and paddle up? Or do you stay there and become a bum? Alexander chose to paddle up.