Episode: Simplicity, Prediction and Risk

Synopsis: Michael Covel opens up with some Johnny Cash. Like most of Cash’s music it’s a simple song. It’s powerful, but it works. And its simplicity is exactly why it works. Covel dedicates today’s episode to the topics of simplicity, prediction, and risk, and presents three articles revolving around each of these ideas. First, Covel mentions an article that appeared in Business Week regarding how Japan’s fear of risk is getting dangerous. For those not aware the Japanese stock market is down 76% still from its 1989 high. That would have to be an entire generation–an entire country–that no longer believes in the stock market. That’s not the reason Covel brings up the article; rather, it’s the “play it safe” mentality. He goes on to discuss the tendency to focus on downsides rather than opportunities. The attitude of risk-aversion in Japan explains why few Japanese students choose to study abroad, why regulators hold up vaccinations, and why 844 trillion yen (almost twice the country’s yearly economic output) sits idle in cash at home and in savings accounts earning 0.02% interest. We’re not far away from this attitude coming to America, but with that comes an opportunity for you to profit. Covel isn’t picking on Japan; it’s just a useful example of the risk-averse attitude that seems to be spreading. Covel moves onto an article from Golf Digest called “What Predictions Say About Us”. Predictions are about pretending to know. Covel points out one particularly compelling quote: “Human beings are wired to predict. In ancient times, predictions served as a psychological counterweight to the extreme uncertainty of life. As we’ve gained more control over this daily existence, predictions help encourage the illusion that we’re in charge of our own destiny. The more that is unknown, the greater the urge to predict.” Somehow we’ve come to think that we can predict almost everything. It’s hard-wired into us. If you can understand that so many people are destined to predict (and continually predict incorrectly) it can put you in the position to profit–if you’ve got a strategy that’s predicated on *not* predicting, i.e. trend following. Covel moves on to discuss simplicity quoting an article called “One Trick Pony”. The article talks about Peyton Manning and Tom Moore, who teamed up with a NFL strategy that they used with great success. Their strategy was based on running the fewest play concepts of any offense in the league. It’s not about trying to surprise the opponent, but in mastering a strategy that works. That’s trend following, too. It’s relatively simple, it’s robust, it’s big, and there aren’t a lot of moving parts. It is what it is–which is a great opportunity for profit. Free DVD: www.trendfollowing.com/win.