A very successful trend follower (Ken Tropin) offered:
“In order for a system to be successful, it has to be what I call robust. Robust means that I can test that system in a market I designed it around. Say I’m using it in the treasury bonds, and then if I switch that market and I try that system in the Euro, it still works. And if I change its parameters, it still works. And if I switch it over to corn — something totally different than treasury bonds — it still works. And if I look at some data that was out of sample from what I designed it around, it still works. Then I have something that might be interesting and have a chance of living in the future. Because the nature of data is it changes a little all the time. And so the key to success in systems trading is to have what I call a loose fitting suit. I can’t have a suit that’s so tight and perfectly proportioned to me that if I gain two pounds, it won’t fit the data anymore.”
The Elliott Wave Principle posits that collective investor psychology, or crowd psychology, moves between optimism and pessimism in natural sequences. These mood swings create patterns evidenced in the price movements of markets at every degree of trend or time scale. In Elliott’s model, market prices alternate between an impulsive, or motive phase, and a corrective phase on all time scales of trend, as the illustration shows. Impulses are always subdivided into a set of 5 lower-degree waves, alternating again between motive and corrective character, so that waves 1, 3, and 5 are impulses, and waves 2 and 4 are smaller retraces of waves 1 and 3. Corrective waves subdivide into 3 smaller-degree waves starting with a five-wave counter-trend impulse, a retrace, and another impulse. In a bear market the dominant trend is downward, so the pattern is reversed—five waves down and three up. Motive waves always move with the trend, while corrective waves move against it. The patterns link to form five and three-wave structures which themselves underlie self-similar wave structures of increasing size or higher degree. Note the lowermost of the three idealized cycles. In the first small five-wave sequence, waves 1, 3 and 5 are motive, while waves 2 and 4 are corrective. This signals that the movement of the wave one degree higher is upward. It also signals the start of the first small three-wave corrective sequence. After the initial five waves up and three waves down, the sequence begins again and the self-similar fractal geometry begins to unfold according to the five and three-wave structure which it underlies one degree higher. The completed motive pattern includes 89 waves, followed by a completed corrective pattern of 55 waves. Each degree of a pattern in a financial market has a name. Practitioners use symbols for each wave to indicate both function and degree—numbers for motive waves, letters for corrective waves (shown in the highest of the three idealized series of wave structures or degrees). Degrees are relative; they are defined by form, not by absolute size or duration. Waves of the same degree may be of very different size and/or duration. The classification of a wave at any particular degree can vary, though practitioners generally agree on the standard order of degrees (approximate durations given):
-Grand supercycle: multi-century
-Supercycle: multi-decade (about 40–70 years)
-Cycle: one year to several years (or even several decades under an Elliott Extension)
-Primary: a few months to a couple of years
-Intermediate: weeks to months
Elliott Wave prose is almost as good as Scientology: Definitely No PhD Required.
Statistical analysis, understanding, and critical thinking has been thrown by the wayside in today’s culture. Most of modern life and modern views have done away with looking at numbers, track records, and data.
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.
Fear drives all in today’s world. Two operations who have not let fear dictate their trading are Berkshire Hathaway and Dunn Capital. Both have 40+ year track records that should be studied. What was their system? How has it worked? If you look at the month by month and year by year of these two much can be learned. Both track records have not just gone up, up, up–they have had massive drawdowns (at least by the definitions of mortals) and still they have been able to persevere. No matter who you are, the ability to adapt to the markets is mission critical.
Recently, I joined Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway on thier podcast, Odd Lots, to talk about Trading Places and the Turtles:
If you have any interest at all in finance, then it’s mandatory to have seen the 1983 movie “Trading Places.” You remember, right? Two wealthy Philadelphia commodity brokers bet on whether anyone, even down-and-out Eddie Murphy, can be trained to become a successful trader. What you might not realize is that something very similar happened in real life. In this week’s Odd Lots, we examine the amazing tale of the Turtle Traders. In 1983, successful commodities speculator Richard Dennis took out a full-page ad looking for novices to train in the art of trading. His novices — who did spectacularly well — studied for just a few weeks and were dubbed his “Turtles.” Joining us to tell the story is Michael Covel, who wrote a book on the Turtles, and Jerry Parker, a former Turtle who still trades using the same technique today.