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David Ricardo’s Golden Rules: Trend Following in the 1700s

David Ricardo (19 April 1772 – 11 September 1823) was an English political economist, often credited with systematising economics, and was one of the most influential of the classical economists, along with Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. According to an 1838 book, The Great Metropolis, Volume 2, Ricardo had certain golden rules:

“As I have mentioned the name of Mr. Ricardo, I may observe that he amassed his immense fortune by a scrupulous attention to what he called his own three golden rules, the observance of which he used to press on his private friends. These were, “Never refuse an option when you can get it, cut short your losses, let your profits run on.” By cutting short one’s losses, Mr. Ricardo meant that when a member had made a purchase of stock, and prices were falling, he ought to resell immediately. And by letting one’s profits run on he meant, that when a member possessed stock, and prices were raising, he ought not to sell until prices had reached their highest, and were beginning again to fall. These are, indeed, golden rules, and may be applied with advantage to innumerable other transactions than those connected with the Stock Exchange.”

Said another way: trend following.

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