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Ep. 382: Dissecting Duplicity with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Dissecting Duplicity with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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On today’s show Michael Covel examines the duplicitous nature of the mainstream financial media, how its talking heads insist on pretending they can predict the future, and how even its most respected publications promote seemingly opposing ideas.

To emphasize his point, Michael opens the discussion by talking about the publication process for his first book, Trend Following. After being passed on by one publisher, he was eventually signed by the publishing side of the Financial Times conglomerate. The same FT, as Michael points out, that’s been trashing trend following for decades.

And nothing has changed. Michael reads from a September 2015 FT article in which author Stephen Foley gives trend following the traditional mainstream bashing we’ve come to except. But in the same issue, FT conducts an interview with Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, in which Shiller says, he sees a massive stock market bubble – the kind of thing trend following has repeatedly proven to be best-equipped to handle.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Trend following: a system, not a theory
  • Opinions are worthless without strategy
  • The mainstream media’s continued attacks on trend following
  • No one knows the future – embrace the idea
  • Theories are conjecture
  • Focus on the now – that’s the indicator

“So there is a bubble element to what we see, but I’m not sure the current situation is a classic bubble, because I’m not certain that most people have extravagant expectations.” – Robert Shiller

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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. 377: Annie Duke Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Annie Duke
Annie Duke

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Today’s guest is author, entrepreneur and professional poker player Annie Duke. Michael Covel and Annie Duke discuss several of the countless ways in which the psychology of gambling overlaps with that of trading, investment and other aspects of business.

Annie explains the importance of thinking probabilistically for decision-makers. Gamblers, like investors, can sometimes become so focused on their losses that it begins to affect their decision-making process in a negative way. Annie calls this “tilt” and says it occurs when players put too much emphasis on outcome. She points out that so long as you are getting an overall return on your investment via a positive expectation, small losses should be both expected and absorbed.

Michael and Annie also discuss further in depth expectancy and how the top minds in both trading and gambling think about the long-term. When involved with risk, it is always important to think realistically. If there is a 90% chance of success, don’t round it up to 100% simply to boost your confidence. This way, if the venture fails, you won’t feel the need to discard your strategy since there was always that 10% chance of failure. Overall, your odds of success are still very good. This is why Annie’s thinking is so important for all of us.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Focusing on the process instead of the outcome
  • Understanding that it’s about your return, not you winning percentage
  • Recognizing that in investing, consistency is unnatural
  • Thinking probabilistically
  • Maximizing your expectancy
  • Understanding that a loss doesn’t necessarily reflect bad thinking

“When you focus on outcome over process you actually reduce innovation in your company.” – Annie Duke

Mentions & Resources:

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“The Secrets Have Finally Been Harnessed!”

Feedback in:

Since I’ve been following your books and podcasts, I view [promotional] email blasts (I must receive 10-15 a day) from the investment community with a whole different attitude. I used to read them with the eagerness of a novice seeking wisdom at the master’s feet. Now, not so much. I’ve been a financial advisor for 25 years and I’ve grown so very tired of the “I wasn’t wrong, I was just early” attitude taken by Wall Street research departments and pundits. The stock market will indeed correct 10%, maybe 15% or 20%, but waiting for [that] while our currency implodes seems not only foolish but downright arrogant. It’s not so much what is [in the promo fluff] that bothers me but the implied subtext that I find offensive and so very wrong. Thank you Mike for all you do – keep shining the light. You are helping me help hundreds.

Welcome!

Gotta Lie To Get Invited Back

After posting the below commentary on my Facebook page I got an interesting response:

This exchange followed:

Alan: Thank you for your thoughtful analysis of my market commentary March 16th. A “Trend Follower” should appreciate my confidence and reasoning that the bull run is still intact. As a market veteran of 25 years with thousands of TV appearances this may be a great opportunity to discuss the insignificance of news nonsense with your podcast listeners. Pick a time I would like to come on to talk media and its negative impact on trading discipline. I am the first to tell traders to turn off the TV as there is very little to help you make money. It is mostly infotainment to keep you emotional and tuned in to pay advertisers. In fact, I have developed a financial news aggregator to search, sort and share market video. The time saving app breaks down the markets into categories and plots the videos from news sources on price and time charts for perspective. That said I make the best effort to give a well thought out actionable trade idea on each of my appearances as opposed to speaking in broad generalizations. Trading is all about risk control, probability, money management and implementation of a trading plan. It should be methodical and boring and as we all know watching television to cheer lead positions does not add to profitability. Looking forward to schedule the podcast interview.

Covel: Hold on. You are the guy on CNN? The guy with videos literally every day providing near useless fundamental factoids and interpretations of what will happen next? And now you are emailing me to say trading is all about risk control, probability, money management and implementation of a trading plan. Don’t you think that is disingenuous? You tell me you have made 1000s of appearances, but [now] you tell people not to watch? I am not [Jim] Cramer. My podcast is not that. Best we agree to disagree right here, unless you can convince me how my eyes are lying to me when I watch your videos of broad generalizations.

Alan: I cannot change the game if I do not appear on TV. Producers and hosts do not understand the markets and create a crisis de jour. My job is to be optimistic of opportunities in any and all market conditions. Stressing a plan of action instead of fear is what I do. Having CNBC on for 10 hours a day or watching Cramer doesn’t help anybody make money. At best it may give 2-3 nuggets of information that could be explored for profit potential. People think news helps when in fact the WHY is of no importance compared to the HOW the market is moving.

Covel: You can’t let the TV hand feed you non-stop and then bite the same hand. None of what you are saying to me was on CNN.

Alan: I gave CNN reasons why I remain optimistic at a time when investors have renewed fears. Calm confidence. Participating in the TV discussion is more productive than not doing so to showcase my disciplined approach. My development of the [name] shows my recognition of this news noise issue and the need to better inform investors.

Covel: Maybe you know the truth, but to appear on TV so much is for you to play a game–their game. Try appearing on TV and tell the real truth. They won’t ask you back. Then you will have made a real advance in your credibility.

Thomson Reuters Hedge Funds Team Teaches You…

Excerpt:

Across this series of webcasts, our expert speakers will cover some of the most topical subjects in the world of hedge fund management today. In our next session, scheduled for tomorrow, Dr Svetlana Borovkova, Associate Professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam provide you with a broad overview of how various commodity markets respond to news and how this information can be used in trading strategies, investment decisions, risk management and for overall improvement in efficiency of quant-based models. We examine the main commodity classes: energy, agriculturals and metals, as well as various market responses to news, in terms of prices, returns, volatilities and trading volumes. Market responses are analysed for different latencies, ranging from minutes to days and to longer horizons.

100% bullshit.

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