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Ed Seykota on Trading Heat

Ed Seykota adds:

Seasoned traders know the importance of risk management. If you risk little, you win little. If you risk too much, you eventually run to ruin. The optimum, of course, is somewhere in the middle.

Placing a trade with a predetermined stop-loss point can be compared to placing a bet: The more money risked, the larger the bet. Conservative betting produces conservative performance, while bold betting leads to spectacular ruin. A bold trader placing large bets feels pressure — or heat — from the volatility of the portfolio. A hot portfolio keeps more at risk than does a cold one. Portfolio heat seems to be associated with personality preference; bold traders prefer and are able to take more heat, while more conservative traders generally avoid the circumstances that give rise to heat. In portfolio management, we call the distributed bet size the heat of the portfolio. A diversified portfolio risking 2% on each of five instrument & has a total heat of 10%, as does a portfolio risking 5% on each of two instruments.

Our studies of heat show several factors, which are:

1. Trading systems have an inherent optimal heat.

2. Setting the heat level is far and away more important than fiddling with trade timing parameters.

3. Many traders are unaware of both these factors.

Don’t know yet? Dig in.

Enjoy one of my interviews with Ed Seykota here.


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Also jump in:

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Trend Following is for beginners, students and pros in all countries. This is not day trading 5-minute bars, prediction or analyzing fundamentals–it’s Trend Following.

Ep. 430: The Mob Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

The Mob Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
The Mob Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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Please enjoy my monologue The Mob Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio. This episode may also include great outside guests from my archive.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Bombay cotton market 1865
  • Bubbles and mania
  • Profiting from the speculation
  • Having a plan in place

“All speculative follies go down the same path. The players involved look the same. They act the same. They talk to same. The only thing that is different are the names. It’s always a new technology. It’s always an innovation.” – Michael Covel

Mentions & Resources:

Listen to this episode:

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Note: That title made me recall:

Ep. 429: Jim Rogers Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Jim Rogers
Jim Rogers

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My guest today is Jim Rogers, an American investor and financial commentator based in Singapore. Rogers is the chairman of Beeland Interests, Inc. He was the co-founder of the Quantum Fund and Soros Fund Management. He was also the creator of the Rogers International Commodities Index (RICI). Rogers does not consider himself a member of any school of economic thought, but has acknowledged that his views best fit the label of the Austrian School of economics.

The topic is central banking system.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio we discuss:

  • Negative interest rates
  • Central banking systems
  • Market crashes
  • The impact of unintended consequences
  • Preparing for the future

“For the last 30 years look at who we have had down there [as the head of the Federal Reserve]. They have all been academic and political hacks.” – Jim Rogers

Mentions & Resources:

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The Philosophy of Trend Following

Discipline and Philospophy
Discipline

There are so many questions to ask yourself before entering a trade. The most critical question to ask is “How much risk are you willing to take”:

The question investors typically avoid at all costs is the question of money management. Money management is also called risk management, position sizing, or bet sizing, and it is the critical component to trend following success as Gibbons Burke observes:

“Money management is like sex: Everyone does it, one way or another, but not many like to talk about it and some do it better than others. When any trader makes a decision to buy or sell (short), they must also decide at that time how many shares or contracts to buy or sell—the order form on every brokerage page has a blank spot where the size of the order is specified. The essence of risk management is making a logical decision about how much to buy or sell when you fill in this blank. This decision determines the risk of the trade. Accept too much risk and you increase the odds that you will go bust; take too little risk and you will not be rewarded in sufficient quantity to beat the transaction costs and the overhead of your efforts. Good money management practice is about finding the sweet spot between these undesirable extremes.”

When you look at a trading strategy, you must ask, “I’ve only got a certain amount of money. How much do I trade?” If you have $100,000 and you want to trade Microsoft, well, how much of your $100,000 must you trade on Microsoft on your first trade? Must you trade all $100,000? What if you’re wrong? What if you’re wrong in a big way, and you lose your entire $100,000 on one bet?

How do you determine how much to bet or trade each time? Trend followers make small bet sizes initially. So, if you start at $100,000, and you’re going to risk 2 percent, that will be $2,000. You might say to yourself, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got $100,000, why am I only risking $2,000? I’ve got $100,000. $2,000 is nothing.” That’s not the point. You can’t predict where the trend is going to go. One trend follower presented a view on the initial risk decision:

“There are traders who are unwilling to risk more than 1 percent, but I would find it surprising to hear of any trader who risks more than 5 percent of assets per trade. Bear in mind that risking too little doesn’t give the market the opportunity to allow your profitable trade to occur.”

Think about money management as you would about getting into physical shape. Let’s say you’re a male athlete and you want to get into great shape. You weigh 185 pounds, and you’re six foot one. Well guess what? You can’t lift weights six times a day for 12 hours a day for 30 straight days without hurting yourself sometime during those 30 days. There’s an optimum amount of lifting that you can do in a day that gets you ahead without setting you back. You want to be at that optimal point just as you want to get to an optimal point with money management. There indeed is just such a number. Ed Seykota describes that optimal point with the concept of “heat”:

“Placing a trade with a predetermined stop-loss point can be compared to placing a bet: The more money risked, the larger the bet. Conservative betting produces conservative performance, while bold betting leads to spectacular ruin. A bold trader placing large bets feels pressure—or heat—from the volatility of the portfolio. A hot portfolio keeps more at risk than does a cold one. Portfolio heat seems to be associated with personality preference; bold traders prefer and are able to take more heat, while more conservative traders generally avoid the circumstances that give rise to heat. In portfolio management, we call the distributed bet size the heat of the portfolio. A diversified portfolio risking 2 percent on each of five instruments has a total heat of 10 percent, as does a portfolio risking 5 percent on each of two instruments.”

Chauncy DiLaura, a student of Seykota’s, adds to the explanation, “There has to be some governor so I don’t end up with a whole lot of risk. The size of the bet is small around 2 percent.” Seykota calls his risk-adjusted equity “core equity” and the risk tolerance percentage “heat.” Heat can be turned up or down to suit the trader’s pain tolerance—as the heat gets higher, so do the gains, but only up to a point. Past that point, more heat starts to reduce the gain. The trader must be able to select a heat level where he is comfortable.

Also critical is how you handle your capital as it grows or shrinks. Do you trade the same with $100,000 as you would $200,000? What if your $100,000 goes to $75,000?

Trend follower Tom Basso knows traders usually begin trading small, say with one contract and as they get more confident they might increase to 10 contracts. Eventually they attain a comfort level of 100 or 1,000 contracts, where they may stay. Basso counsels against this. He stresses that the goal is to keep things on constant leverage. His method of calculating the number of contracts to trade keeps him trading the same way even as equity increases.

One of the reasons traders sometimes can’t keep trading proportional as capital increases is fear. Although it might feel comfortable when the math dictates that you trade a certain number of shares or contracts at $50,000, when the math dictates to trade a certain amount at $500,000, people might become risk averse. So instead of trading the optimal amount at whatever capital you have, people trade less. How can this be avoided? Create an abstract money world. Don’t think about what the money can buy, just look at the numbers like you would when playing a board game, such as Monopoly or Risk.

However, because capital is always changing, it’s critically important to keep trading consistent. A description of Dunn Capital’s trading echoes Basso’s view: “Part of [Dunn’s] approach is adjusting trading positions to the amount of equity under management. He says if his portfolio suffers a major drawdown, he adjusts positions to the new equity level. Unfortunately, he says not enough traders follow this rather simple strategy.”19

If you start with $100,000 and you lose $25,000, you now have $75,000. You must make your trading decisions off $75,000, not $100,000. You don’t have $100,000 any more. However, Paul Mulvaney felt I was missing a critical final aspect of money management:

“Trend following is implicitly about dynamic rebalancing, which is why I think successful traders appear to be fearless. Many hedge fund methodologies make risk management a separate endeavor. In trend following it is part of the internal logic of the investment process.”

Recent feedback in from a listener:

Hi Michael,

Nice to virtually meet you. My name is Natalie and I’m driving cross country and enjoying your podcasts! Episode 100 is my ultimate favorite, I listen to that one at least 3/4 times a month!

As of recently (last year or so) I’ve been getting more into trend following. Lately I’ve been on [nam] screening for stocks that have just crossed over the 200dma on the daily chart and seeing how they act.

I was hoping you could answer something that’s been on my mind. I was recently scanning [name] and came across 3 stocks I don’t know too much about at all, BUT, technically they look very good. (All have just cleared the 200dma on the daily chart which sparks my interest).

My question is… after you find something that looks technically good for trend following, what’s the next step you take for due diligence and good measure to confirm the trend and any thoughts one might have before starting a position? Do you check the fundamentals?

I’m sure your quite busy, but any response or guidance, or episode you can point me into would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for everything you do for the community!

Sincerely,
[Name]

I will have to re-listen to #100 now!

To your questions:

1. There is no short answer.
2. You don’t use fundamentals.
3. You need a tracking portfolio from the start.

Now, let’s get practical. Answer the following five questions, and you have a trend following trading system:

1. What market do you buy or sell at any time?
2. How much of a market do you buy or sell at any time?
3. When do you buy or sell a market?
4. When do you get out of a losing position?
5. When do you get out of a winning position?

Said another way (Bill Eckhardt inspired):

1. What is the state of the market?
2. What is the volatility of the market?
3. What is the equity being traded?
4. What is the system or the trading orientation?
5. What is the risk aversion of the trader or client?

You want to be black or white with this. You do not want gray. If you can accept that mentality, you have got it.

Where to start? See: www.trendfollowing.com/start.

Then let’s circle back.

If you enjoyed this read then check out some of my Trend Following Radio Podcasts, such as my interviews with Aaron Brown, Bryan Caplan, and a discussion of Truth and Fantasy with Michael Covel.


How can you move forward immediately to Trend Following profits? My books and my Flagship Course and Systems are trusted options by clients in 70+ countries.

Also jump in:

Trend Following Podcast Guests
Frequently Asked Questions
Performance
Research
Markets to Trade
Crisis Times
Trading Technology
About Us

Trend Following is for beginners, students and pros in all countries. This is not day trading 5-minute bars, prediction or analyzing fundamentals–it’s Trend Following.

Life as a Continuum Running on Loop Back and Forth from Risk to Reward

Life is a series of bets. Decisions on top of decisions. Choosing a trading strategy is one of those decisions to bet on. Consider an excerpt from Trend Commandments:

You want to see life as a continuum running on a loop back and forth from risk to reward. If you want a big reward, take a big risk. If you want an average reward and an average life, take an average risk. Easier said than done, however, if you want the big reward. Our system is notorious for playing Whac-A-Mole with achievers. From an early age, people are conditioned by families, schools, and virtually every other shaping force in society to avoid risk. To take risks is inadvisable; to play it safe is the message. Risk can only be bad. However, winners understand risk is highly productive, and not something to avoid. Taking calculated risks is different from acting rashly. Playing it safe is the true danger. Far more often than you might realize, the real risk in life turns out to be the refusal to take a risk. If life is a game of risk, then to one degree or another, being comfortable with assessing odds is the only option for a fulfilling life. Consider trading from a “startup” business perspective. Every business is ultimately involved in assessing risk. Putting capital to work to make it grow is the goal. In that sense, all business is the same. The right decisions lead to success, and wrong ones lead to insolvency.

Blunt, but true.

Now, feedback from a listener that made the right bet:

Trend following has indeed changed my life. After a 20-year career on Wall Street I am now a successful, profitable, independent trader. Have I made money with trend following? Yes, indeed. Living a nice life in Chicago with three kids going to private school, enjoying the finer things. My strategy is not difficult to execute at all. Very basic and straight forward. I keep it as simple as possible. I will absolutely continue to execute this strategy. Mind you–always looking at new information and ideas.

Thanks!


How can you move forward immediately to Trend Following profits? My books and my Flagship Course and Systems are trusted options by clients in 70+ countries.

Also jump in:

Trend Following Podcast Guests
Frequently Asked Questions
Performance
Research
Markets to Trade
Crisis Times
Trading Technology
About Us

Trend Following is for beginners, students and pros in all countries. This is not day trading 5-minute bars, prediction or analyzing fundamentals–it’s Trend Following.

Ep. 385: Paul Slovic Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Paul Slovic Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
Paul Slovic

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My guest today is Paul Slovic, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and the president of Decision Research. Decision Research is a collection of scientists from all over the nation and in other countries that study decision-making in times when risks are involved. He study the psychology of risk and decision making. Current interests are motivating action to prevent genocides and nuclear war.

The topic is his paper Perception of Risk.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio we discuss:

  • The psychometric paradigm of risk perception
  • Balancing risk vs. reward
  • The concept of affect heuristics
  • How the media sways the public’s risk assessment
  • Fast vs. slow thinking
  • Risk in the context of decision making

“Bad is stronger than good. If something goes wrong in a system it decreases our trust in the management of that system more than when something goes right. Something goes right, it doesn’t really boost our trust and confidence. It’s the negative that outweighs the positive, and the negative is being conveyed to us much more frequently and forcefully through the media than the positive is.” – Paul Slovic

Mentions & Resources:

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Ep. 384: Living by Your Own Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Living by Your Own Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
Living by Your Own Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Subscribe to Trend Following Radio on iTunes

Please enjoy my monologue Living by Your Own Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio. This episode may also include great outside guests from my archive.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Good decision-making through clarity
  • Examining identity politics
  • Operating under your own rules
  • Political correctness: it’s about agendas
  • Good trading means using your system and your mind
  • The importance of staying focused

“We’ve been crippled by social security, Medicare, Medicaid, by welfare, by entitlements. And that is the root of the problem. Entitlements. Let me be clear…You are entitled to nothing.” – Frank Underwood

Mentions & Resources:

Listen to this episode:

Want to learn more Trend Following? Watch my video here.

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