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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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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.

Oct 19, 2015

On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio, Michael opens up about uncertainty and uses one of his favorite writers to illustrate: Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens is certain that he doesn’t know, and sees doubt and skepticism as our only path to enlightenment. He invites us to open up to the possibility that doubt will always be in front of faith–whatever that faith may be about. Covel sees Hitchens insights well beyond religion, and connects his comments to his trading world.

Next, Michael excerpts a recent soundbite from Jim Simons on Trend Following. He is one of the most successful traders ever. A great track record. 100% systematic. Uses price action. He is very clear that fundamental analysis is not his direction. How does Simons really trade? Will we ever know? No. Simons is tight lipped. Is Simons a trend follower? Does he use trend following at all? Worthy questions given his limited public statements. Covel digs into Simons recent comments about trend following asking the hard questions few are prepared to pose.

Lastly, Covel brings in Alan Watts to connect both Hitchens and Simons. Watts wonders why children have been forced into a learning process that doesn’t help them in the long run. He sees culture as leaving children at a disadvantage. He points out that the rules of the game are not given to children. Children are strung along. The powers that be keep key information away from the child, and even the adult, forcing them to always rely on the system. So while everyone is in desperate need of the future, ignoring the present moment is inevitable. Covel easily connects this to the markets and trading reminding us all that the gatekeepers are not your friends.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Christopher Hitchens on certainty v. uncertainty
  • Jim Simons on Trend Following
  • Faith v. Skepticism
  • Is trend following dead?
  • Buying pleasure: a complete fallacy
  • Constraints on the truth
Aug 24, 2015

Today, Michael Covel reads a recent piece from Barry Ritholtz about the Death Cross: that foreboding moment when the 50 day MA falls below the 200 day MA. Then Michael looks at how a Twitter debate between Cliff Asness of AQR and Jerry Parker of Chesapeake Capital, sparked by the article, led to an examination of momentum v. trend following.

The so-called Death Cross is viewed by many to be an omen, a signal of dark days to come. And while that could be partly correct in the context of a complete system, the Death Cross is just a signal. It’s a mistake to think of it in apocalyptic terms that something will happen in 6 months time, etc. The Death Cross is the type of signal that can work for the investor with a robust, diversified portfolio within a system that doesn’t aim to predict the future. This is all about what’s happening in the present price, so you can take action now.

Michael also plays and comments on a Bloomberg interview with Barry Ritholtz, discusses the folly of predictive technical analysis, and hammers home the fact that trend following is the only proven form of quantitative trading.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • The importance of ignoring old concepts
  • Trend Following is about taking action
  • Why no one can predict where the market is headed
  • Incorporating the Death Cross into a diversified portfolio
  • Understanding momentum trading
  • The idea of “heuristics”

Want a FREE Trend Follwing DVD? Find it here

Aug 10, 2015

“Should I invest in X?” is a question often heard in the investment world. Coming from the general public it is an especially strong cry out. The answer to that question is simple, although not obvious to many.

What you invest in doesn’t matter; it’s the strategy that matters. Markets are instruments: you can choose the best market and instrument for your purpose, but ultimately it is your strategy for using that market/instrument that determines the outcome.

In this commentary Michael Covel curates several excerpts from Richard Feynman to Paul Samuelson and creates a narrative to illustrate the contrast between fundamental and technical traders. Covel also makes a case study of Commodities Corporation – the hedge fund/incubator that was founded and run by some of the biggest trend following heavyweights of our time.

One of the most notable aspects of Commodities Corporation’s success is their pivot from their original fundamental strategy to a trend following strategy. Though the company is not talked about much today (bought by Goldman Sachs years back), their trend following legacy still permeates the investing world.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Defining the exact risks involved in a trading strategy
  • The importance of liquidity: entering and exiting markets with ease
  • What we can learn from the history of Commodities Corporation
  • How the scientific method applies to trading logic
  • How Fundamental Analysis differs from Technical Analysis
  • The origins and basic principles of Trend Following Trading
  • The importance of accepting the risks and committing to your strategy

Want a free Trend Following DVD? Get it here

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 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 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 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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