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Ep. 444: No Charts, Trade the Price with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

No Charts, Trade the Price with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
No Charts, Trade the Price with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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Michael Covel starts off reading an email from a listener asking, “Do all trend followers use spreadsheets alone to trade? Or do they also use charts for visualization? I am having a hard time trading using a spreadsheet alone and I tend to need to see a chart. It provides the visualization I need.” Michael responds saying “What does the visualization do? Are your trading decisions based on the price or visualization of a chart?” You don’t need charts or multiple monitors streaming at a time. That is not how the best traders trade.

For the remainder of the episode Michael leads with a presentation from Gregg Popovich, the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. Gregg talks about organization, discipline, player relationships (between players and the coach and between players and players), and the importance of being comfortable enough in your own skin to take advice from others, among many other subjects. You can’t begin to execute a trading rule until you have sound philosophical grounding. It starts with the right mentality and imagination, and Gregg is a perfect example of this. There are countless lessons to be learned listening to Gregg’s presentation. His outlook is applicable to anything you could want to do in life whether it be starting a business, trading, or running a marathon.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Why cultivating your second string is so important
  • Foreign players vs. U.S players
  • Accountability
  • Importance of honesty
  • Having the same standards for everyone
  • Importance of humility
  • Execution
  • A different perspective on goal setting
  • Looking at the big picture

“It’s a journey. It’s a process. It’s difficult. The joy is in the process. The joy isn’t in the final culmination. That fades away pretty quick… The journey is what you are most proud of.” – Gregg Popovich

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No Charts, Just Price Data


I am struggling to find good charts online. I mean information friendly, showing plenty of chart history, no technical bullshit just plain easy to read charts. Could you suggest any good charting websites to me? I love your books and podcasts by the way.

Why charts? Why not just the data from (as an example)? No charts needed. In fact, why are charts needed? The moment a chart is introduced is the moment subjective analysis rears its ugly head.

No Funnymentals in Trend Following

Feedback in:

Hi Michael, I’ve been trading trends the last 3 years and it’s been good. However, whenever I revisit Market Wizards or listen to your podcasts, I always notice that some of the great traders, including the trend followers, have some fundamental aspects in their trading plus the use of technical indicators other than price. If trading is merely trading numbers and price action is really what matters, is it foolhardy to think that trading without charts(just daily closing prices and nothing else) can be profitable? I had manually churned out a set of performance data based on some EOD price charts of the last 15 years. But I’m planning to work on evaluating my trend following system using only prices and no charts. Is there someone who has traded trends profitably without charts? I appreciate your entire work of trend following. Thank you! Warmest regards, Francis T.

The core trend followers in my books? No funnymentals (Ed Seykota term of course). None of the trend followers in my books talk about charts. They use price data. Do charts help? That’s all subjective! Price is objective.

Embrace the Shake: The Foundation of Trend Following

I tweeted this.

Here is an example of that from The Hedge Fund Journal:

David Harding spent two years at Sabre Fund Management, each day drawing hundreds of charts by hand, like a true craftsman. Every chart was bound into big leather folders, and in turn each chart pattern was copied into other folders. He likens it to an old-fashioned publishing house. Harding noted without irony that the company was run by accountants, and that “there certainly was method in what was done there.” He continues “I certainly regard my time there as the foundation stone of my credentials as an empiricist. There is nothing like drawing thousands of charts by hand to fix them in your mind. In fact I regard this phase of exhausting taxonomy of technical analysis as being like the relationship used to be between biology and taxonomy in the life sciences. Until something like 1830 you had gentlemen scientists collecting leaves and putting them into folders, and it wasn’t until Darwin that he and others started putting some order on it. Only by arranging data and putting it in order can you get any pattern out of it.


Going The Extra Mile and Trend Following

Do you really want to be in a box with millions of traders and investors with the same training, technique and style (i.e. fundamentals, forecasts, buy and hold, talking heads, etc.)? Richard Dennis danced to a different beat and his creation of the Turtles landed him in the hall of fame. Dennis relayed one of his quirks that helped set him apart:

“I used to go to bed with a book of charts,and just flip through them before I went to sleep. I wasn’t trying to analyze or interpret them, just retain them so that my mind could work on them while I slept.”

Who knows if this exercise worked? What matters is that he was so fired up about being great and forever improving, that he was OK with experimenting and trying out new new things. What will you do differently today? Ludwig von Mises nailed it:

“The class of those who have the ability to think their own thoughts is separated by an unbridgeable gulf from the class of those who cannot.”

True that.

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