Ep. 579: Mihir Desai Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Mihir Desai
Mihir Desai

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Mihir Desai is author of “The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return.” Mihir is currently the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School and a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

He wrote his new book with two goals in mind: 1. Demystifying finance and 2. Have people look at finance in a more inspirational way. After each financial bubble bursts, the public repeatedly retreats to stereotypical ideas of finance. Mihir doesn’t want to wait for a generational shift to take place for finance to be looked at in a positive light. Financial literacy has gone by the way side in schools. How do you get children to think about basic risk taking? How do you think about protecting yourself? How do you buy insurance? How do you pool your money as a family? He hopes his book may help change some views and enlighten.

Mihir explains why diversification isn’t important just in the markets, it is important to diversify in all aspects of life. As an athlete you should workout all your muscles not just pinpoint one area. Or if you are looking at your health, you should look at all aspects of your health, not just what you are eating or how you are sleeping. Broaden your outlook and diversify your time and energy accordingly.

What is Agency theory? If you give someone money to invest, why do you get the money back? Arguably this is the biggest problem in modern finance. 150 years ago most people were self employed. Nowadays we appoint people as our “agents”. We have a system where we give money to people we don’t know and expect them to take care of it. Michael and Mihir end the conversation talking about people finding their path and true happiness in life rather than doing what their parents or society has told them to do.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Reputation of finance
  • Diversification
  • Risk management
  • Black-Scholes model
  • Behavioral phenomena
  • The magic of leverage
  • The asshole theory of finance
  • Agency theory

“Luck is a dominant force in your outcome. That is lost on a lot of people in finance.” – Mihir Desai

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Ep. 578: Be the Man with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Be the Man
Be the Man

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You won’t expect or see this episode coming… First, consider a truism: Asian American students dominate in academia. Asian Americans know that if they get the right scores, and check off all the boxes, they get the good school. However, this is not how it works at Harvard and other Ivy League institutions. They don’t operate based on who has the best test scores.

Michael reads a passage from a New York Times article illustrating the injustices in Harvard’s admission processes. Once one ethnic quota has been filled, that’s it. No more students can me admitted. Public universities handle their admission process differently. Asian Americans make up 34% of The University of California’s student body as apposed to about 15% of Asian Americans allowed to attend the Ivy schools due to diversity regulations.

“America, the home of equality?” This catch phrase has gone by the way side. When students work hard, but then are slapped down because of their race, this goes against the American dream. And when the system turns against you its time to make a choice: Fight against it or walk away? Michael’s answer is counter-intuitive and dovetails with trend following.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Ivy League quotas
  • The American dream
  • Asian Americans
  • Fair competition
  • The secret sauce myth
  • Letting go

Mentions & Resources:

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Ep. 577: Art Collins Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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Art Collins is author of “Beating the Financial Futures Market: Combining Small Biases Into Powerful Money Making Strategies”, “When Supertraders Meet Kryptonite”, “Market Rap: The Odyssey of a Still-Struggling Commodity Trader” and “Market Beaters.” He has been trading systematically for the past 30 years.

How was Art Collins able to get Richard Dennis, Bill Dunn, Bob Pardo, Mike Dever and Larry Williams (to name a few) to talk? He made the interviews more like a partnership, than an interview. He made an impressive name for himself which led to positive word of mouth spreading.

What does robustness mean to Art? He uses four rules for prudent testing: 1. Don’t settle on your best result if it is a “diamond in the rough”. 2. Strategies should test well in various markets, particularly similar ones. 3. You don’t want your results to be bunched up in limited time frames. 4. Stay focused on testing concepts you understand in the markets.

Throughout the years Art wasn’t only focused on trading markets. He also studied how to beat the blackjack table and how to skew the odds in his favor when betting on sports. Trading football lines, and trading the price of stocks – what’s the difference? There isn’t much of a difference when you take a technical and systematic approach to them. It’s about keeping emotions out of it. He never wanted to be a cowboy trader or thought of as a “genius”, he just wanted his systems to work. Michael and Art spend the rest of this episode diving into card counting, mechanical systems, gambling on football, data mining and the fools errand of making $1,000 a day.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Systems trading
  • Richard Dennis
  • Card Counting
  • Mechanical systems
  • Robustness
  • Data mining

Mentions & Resources:

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Ep. 576: Political Bulls with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Political Bulls
Political Bulls

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Michael reads an article he recently wrote for The Observer. He weaves in commentary throughout and speaks to the gross misuse of political power. Michael portrays politicians and the D.C. culture as a dog and pony show.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Parliament of Whores
  • Bill Clinton presidency
  • Political dog and pony show
  • 2000 stock crash

Mentions & Resources:

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Ep. 575: Tyler Cowen Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Tyler Cowen
Tyler Cowen

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Tyler Cowen is author of “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.” Tyler first noticed a problem in America when he began traveling after the financial crisis and saw how “comfortable” life had become for many Americans. People were not taking risks anymore and when risk is taken away, what is left?

There is no way to deliver upward mobility in a society once risk taking, innovation and a sense of urgency has diminished. Americans seemingly have lost the ability to envision a future different than the reality in front of them. Innovation is suffering, travel is disappearing, and people are changing jobs much less than ever before. Tyler describes this shift in mentality as people losing their sense of restlessness and change. There is no feeling of opportunity costs.

Why is this happening? How can American’s not imagine something better? American lives have become safe and comfortable — risk is the only factor that can help transition Americans away from their own complacency. Unfortunately, it won’t happen with people pushing for it, it will have to hit them. We are investing less in science, have obvious issues with cyber vulnerability and infrastructure is not advancing. American culture is lacking and nothing is getting better. Why have people stopped creating? Will there be a great reset in government and on Wall Street? These questions and more are answered throughout the podcast.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Complacency
  • Elon Musk
  • Innovators
  • The millennial generation
  • Democracy as a medium
  • American culture on the decline
  • Illegal and legal drug use
  • Online matching from dating to shopping goods
  • Lifting people out of poverty
  • Jack Ma

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“I have slowly arrived at podcast 138…”

Feedback in from an email conversation spanning over a few months:

Dear Michael Covel,

Thank you for your work. I recently found your podcast, and I’m listening to each one from the beginning in chronological order. So far I am up to number 28, Entrepreneurism: The Importance Of Not Doing What You’re Told. Excellent work, excellent podcast.

Best wishes,
[Name]

Thanks!

I’m still making my way through the podcast archives, and finding much value there. I note that you sometimes make references to films (delighted with the mention of Reservoir Dogs), and I wonder, have you seen the John Carpenter film, “They Live”? If you haven’t, I am sure you will enjoy it, it is a “them and us” satire on the state of capitalism, with most of “the people” in a dream-like state. Great soundtrack, too.

Is that the one with all the messaging? And Roddy Piper?

That’s the very one! I have slowly arrived at podcast 138. Up until now I tried not to email about the fact that I am a repeat visitor to Thailand, yes, I love the energy of Bangkok, and it just so happens that I will be spending two weeks in Krabi in the next couple of weeks, but you went and did a Pulp Fiction thing. I had to email. That’s it. I have an email following system. There are rules. That’s it.

Much love,
[Name]

Thanks!

Note: My newest edition of Trend Following has an audio book version out now.

Ep. 573: Jon Gordon Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following

Jon Gordon
Jon Gordon

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Jon Gordon is an author and speaker on leadership, culture, sales, and teamwork. He has worked with numerous athletic organizations, academic institutions, and corporations. His latest book is “The Power of Positive Leadership.” He teaches people how to focus on weeding out the negative and not letting that energy poison the team.

Jon describes himself as a once fearful, negative and stressed out 31-year old. What changed all of that? His wife gave him the ultimatum: Change your life or I am leaving you. He had an “Aha” moment that gave him the revelation he was meant to write and speak. However, Jon knew he needed to work on himself first, so he started taking steps to better himself. He began by going on walks of gratitude and created a “positive tip of the week” newsletter. This lead to him creating a website, doing about 80 free talks to get started, and ultimately just going for it as an entrepreneur. Jon describes impacting others as being the greatest feeling in the world.

“The Power of Positive Leadership” and Jon’s overall message is about how to root out the negative and focus on the positive. One negative person can bring an entire team down. He calls these people “negative vampires” and says they must be addressed, called out, and kicked off the bus. Building positive leaders fosters building a positive team. You get people on your bus by the way you lead. It can’t be an ultimatum—“Be positive or your are out of here!”

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Leadership skills
  • Energy vampires
  • Negativity is contagious
  • Grit is the biggest predictor of success
  • Overcoming challenges
  • Pushing forward through adversity

Mentions & Resources:

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