Andrew Lo is author of “Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought.” He is also the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor of Finance at MIT and the chairman and chief investment strategist of the AlphaSimplex Group.
Andrew was taught from the beginning of his career that the efficient market hypothesis was gospel truth. It was the end-all-be-all. However, he first found a problem with the efficient market hypothesis just after graduating college. He did a test on the “random walk hypothesis” and related his findings from that hypothesis to the markets. He then came to find that his results proved the efficient market hypothesis wrong. Was there pushback during the early stages of talking about EMT being wrong? Absolutely. Andrew was one of the strongest that pushed back primarily because it went against everything he previously knew to be true.
Andrew talks about another study he did with one of his MIT classes in 2004. He looked at hedge funds around that time and through data he proved that they were headed for trouble. They were able to foresee a small piece of the 2008 crash. Michael and Andrew end the podcast talking about Andrew’s new book and the role that the environment is playing in adaptive markets. When studying a species, what should be asked is, “Is it the species that is complex, or is it the environment that is complex and the species is just adapting to it?” Many species have figured out how to live in harsh environments in very different ways. In the same light, there are many different ways that people can trade the market and be successful.
“Should I invest in X?” is a question often heard in the investment world. Coming from the general public it is an especially strong cry out. The answer to that question is simple, although not obvious to many.
What you invest in doesn’t matter; it’s the strategy that matters. Markets are instruments: you can choose the best market and instrument for your purpose, but ultimately it is your strategy for using that market/instrument that determines the outcome.
In this commentary Michael Covel curates several excerpts from Richard Feynman to Paul Samuelson and creates a narrative to illustrate the contrast between fundamental and technical traders. Covel also makes a case study of Commodities Corporation – the hedge fund/incubator that was founded and run by some of the biggest trend following heavyweights of our time.
One of the most notable aspects of Commodities Corporation’s success is their pivot from their original fundamental strategy to a trend following strategy. Though the company is not talked about much today (bought by Goldman Sachs years back), their trend following legacy still permeates the investing world.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Defining the exact risks involved in a trading strategy
The importance of liquidity: entering and exiting markets with ease
What we can learn from the history of Commodities Corporation
How the scientific method applies to trading logic
How Fundamental Analysis differs from Technical Analysis