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Ep. 388: Logic Over Faith with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Logic Over Faith with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
Logic Over Faith with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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On today’s episode of Trend Following Radio Michael Covel opens the conversation by taking a look at the concept of faith, and how it has no place in the trading world. In trading, logic and reason trump faith. If you can’t “grow” up and use reason to gather information and form strategy, Michael notes, then you have no place at the “adult” table.

Next, Michael outlines core decision-making precepts. Sometimes making the right move means going against your instincts, and it’s at these times that you need to force yourself to make a decision – even if it means quitting. People tend to equate quitting with failure when the truth, as Michael points out, is that sometimes quitting is what keeps you in the game. This line of thinking is again linked to logic rather than faith – the erroneous faith that if you necessarily stick it out (i.e. a losing trade in the markets) success will follow.

Other topics covered in this episode touch on how financial advisors primarily exist to push mutual funds and buy and hold orthodoxy, why investing without a plan dooms you before you begin, and why embracing the challenge of how the world and investing really works makes you a smarter investor.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Logic over faith
  • Financial advisors: there to give mutual fund advice
  • Adapting your strategy
  • How quitting can keep you in the game
  • Forcing yourself to make decisions
  • Risk and reward

“What I say is, at what price? If low interest rates were just that simple of a panacea, we would never have recessions. We would never have these crises, we would never have these panics.” – Carl Icahn

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Ep. 387: Gabriel Weinberg Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Gabriel Weinberg
Gabriel Weinberg

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Today on Trend Following Radio Michael Covel talks with author and startup entrepreneur Gabriel Weinberg about the concept of traction. Gabriel points out that in the business world traction is about far more than simply getting a grip and hanging in there – it’s about then moving forward, ultimately toward a defined goal (customers).

Just like a trend following trader that uses quantitative methods to invest scientifically, Gabriel relies on numbers and hard data to inform him about which marketing channels are working and which should be focused on, and which are less effective and should be dropped. The result is a streamlined marketing approach that’s allowed Gabriel, a self-published author, to sell upwards of 35,000 copies of his book.

Michael and Gabriel also talk about how psychology factors into startup entrepreneurship. For anyone investing their time and energy into a project, both passion and resiliency are paramount. If you aren’t passionate about the work you’re doing, and if you don’t genuinely enjoy the challenge of bringing a product to market, then you’re doomed before you ever start. Best, as Michael suggests, to run back to the office cubicle.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Reaching your goal, then setting another
  • Resilience: vital to the entrepreneur
  • Committing to your idea
  • Psychology: the main barrier to success
  • Understanding that it’s okay to fail
  • Enjoy the challenge – or go do something else

“And so if you think of your initial product as a leaky bucket – you know, you pour in customers at the top and customers leak out of the bucket because your product’s not good yet…You need a steady stream of cold customers with fresh eyes to tell you where those leaks are, and if you don’t have that when you launch you’re still gonna have leaks more of the time than not.” – Gabriel Weinberg

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Ep. 386: Expanding Your Thinking with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Expanding Your Thinking with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
Expanding Your Thinking with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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Today on Trend Following Radio Michael Covel takes time out to highlight the fact that trend following isn’t only about trading. From gamblers to pharmaceutical executives to those in the film and music industries, trend following is a strategy rooted in human nature itself.

As an example, Michael examines the success of film producer Jason Blum. In direct opposition to the Hollywood mantra of Spend! Spend! Spend!, Blum has chosen another path. Blum, recognizing that big budgets don’t necessarily mean big profits, developed a filmmaking system based on low budget projects. Blum fully understands that close to half of his films will flop. But he also understands that a handful of box office successes will more than cover those losses. This is the essence of trend following.

Michael goes on to quote from a 2005 article by best-selling author Michael Crichton. Crichton, talking about the then-burgeoning field of futurism, explains that these so-called futurists don’t actually know any more about the future than the average man on the street. These “experts” are guilty of the same flawed thinking that spews forth from the minds of traders who think they know what the market will do tomorrow.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Why embracing uncertainty pays big
  • Trend following: it’s human nature
  • Losses: acceptable when you strategize to cover them
  • The sunk cost fallacy
  • Opening your mind to alternative ways of thinking
  • The mistake of blindly accepting the word of “authorities”

“I remind you there is a new kind of special occupation. I refuse to call it a discipline or a field of study. It’s called futurism. The notion here is that there is a way to study trends and know what the future holds. That would indeed be valuable if it were possible. But it isn’t possible. Futurists don’t know any more about the future than you or I. Read their magazines from a couple years ago and you’ll see an endless parade of error.” – Michael Crichton

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Ep. 383: Lawrence McMillan Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Lawrence McMillan
Lawrence McMillan

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Today on Trend Following Radio Michael Covel talks with Lawrence McMillan of McMillan Analysis Corporation. The topic of discussion is options, their value in terms of overall strategy, and how their trading has evolved over the preceding decades.

The conversation opens with Lawrence talking about his days at historic Bell Labs – a research company founded in the 19th century by Alexander Graham Bell – and the initial difficulty in working with options due to their complicated nature and the level of technology required. Later, Michael asks Lawrence to talk about the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) and how, since the subprime crisis of 2008, many are looking at the VIX as long-term insurance for the future. One of the problems with that strategy, as Lawrence points out, is that many people fail to take into account that VIX only measures market expectations for the next 30 days.

Also discussed today are leverage as a financial tool and the concept of the black swan – unforeseen events that have a major impact, but only rationalized after the fact. Lawrence brings decades of experience and wisdom, gain perspective.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • American vs. European-style options
  • The logic behind VIX
  • Leverage as a tool
  • Understanding puts and calls
  • Long and short selling
  • Examining the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008

“I’m not counting on disaster. I don’t want there to be disaster. I don’t want my house to burn down, but I do want insurance in case it does. That’s our basic strategy.” – Lawrence McMillan

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Ep. 380: Lessons from Ken Tropin with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Ken Tropin
Ken Tropin

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On today’s show, Michael Covel talks about how people that are ahead of the curve often find themselves isolated – even ridiculed – by those who don’t yet get it. This, as Michael points out, is certainly true for trend following traders, and some of the sharpest push back comes from the talking heads of the media.

To emphasize his point, Michael plays clips from an interview between CNBC’s Joe Kernen and Graham Capital’s Ken Tropin, a highly successful trader who heavily incorporates trend following techniques into his overall strategy. To Michael, of utmost significance in the two men’s exchange, is the fact that Kernen bumbles through the interview wholly unprepared (either via incompetence or on purpose). Kernen didn’t respect Tropin or his strategy enough to do even the most basic homework beforehand.

Michael’s discussion then moves on to the topic of uncertainty. In direct opposition to media personalities, that are paid to pretend to know what the market will do, trend following traders embrace the knowledge that they can’t predict the future. Uncertainty makes the game more exciting, and not just the investment game. As Michael demonstrates, the principles of trend following can be effectively applied across myriad disciplines.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Recognizing that without a strategy, you’re at the mercy of the machine
  • Embracing uncertainty
  • Understanding that knowing every market move won’t help without a plan
  • The importance of setting your strategy beforehand
  • Seeing that media personalities are paid to pretend to know all
  • How the principles of trend following apply to other disciplines

“Trend following is one of the most mature and well-established systematic trading styles with a thirty-three year track record of profitability.” – Ken Tropin

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Ep. 379: John Casti Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

John Casti
John Casti

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Today’s guest is prolific author, mathematician and entrepreneur John Casti. John talks with Michael Covel about social mood, and how ultimately the events that urge populations to move in one direction or another are largely unpredictable.

John discusses the concept of socionomics – the idea that the collective beliefs of a society about its future will influence the kinds of social events to occur in that future. And while these triggers, which John refers to as X-events, can’t be predicted, John explains that they can absolutely be prepared for by understanding the greater social context of the region.

As an example, John cites the so-called Arab Spring. As he points out, no one could have predicted the single event that moved millions in the Arab World to take to the streets in protest. But it wasn’t hard to see that the region had long been primed for something big. Charles Faulkner recommended John as a guest (even though he only knew his work). Good tip from Charles!

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • The fundamentals of socionomics
  • The science of surprise
  • Understanding that social mood is time-dependent
  • How X-events can trigger mood reversals
  • Isolating the collective social belief
  • The mindset of “the crowd”

“So you’re gonna have a lot of small losers. But, hopefully, you have a few homeruns that pay for the losers and leave you something extra for your efforts.” – John Casti

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Ep. 375: Mark Sleeman Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Mark Sleeman
Mark Sleeman

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Today’s guest is Mark Sleeman of MS Capital Management. Mark is a self-taught trend following trader who’s been trading since the late 80s.

Michael Covel asks Mark about the road that led him to trend following and his early experiences as an trader. Mark talks about how, in the beginning, he was only looking for a way to make money. But with his engineering background, when he happened upon systems trading, everything fell into place. So confident was Mark in both his system and his own abilities, in fact, that he was willing to sell his house to get started (to raise trading capital).

Mark points out that investing based on “bottoms and tops” alone is pointless since no one can predict where the market will turn. The key to smart investing is a diversified portfolio that can sustain small losses long enough to catch those big wins. Trend following is the only proven system with decades of empirical data to back it up, and it’s the only way to trade if you want to become a long term survivor.

Other areas of discussion include the psychology of trading, understanding that patience doesn’t come naturally (has to be learned), and the importance of maintaining a life outside the markets.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • The fallacy of “buy low, sell high”
  • The psychology of trading
  • Keeping your losses small
  • The importance of maintaining a life
  • Focusing on the strategy, not the instrument
  • Understanding that patience has to be learned

“You’ve gotta be robust because you’re gonna see good markets and you’re gonna see bad markets. I’ve certainly seen both, and expect to see more of both.” – Mark Sleeman

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