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PIMCO: Trend Following Through the Rates Cycle

From PIMCO:

Some investors have been concerned that the historical success of trend following–a quantitative strategy that seeks positive returns by capturing momentum across major asset classes–would unravel in a period of range-bound or rising interest rates. PIMCO’s New Neutral thesis anticipates that interest rates will remain lower for longer. Eventually, however, rates are likely to rise from today’s rock-bottom levels. Even so, history shows that trend following strategies have the potential to generate positive returns amid rising rates–and indeed, across all interest rate environments. Most asset classes have benefited from 30 years of falling interest rates, as future cash flows have been discounted at steadily lower rates, boosting present values. Accordingly, passive long-only strategies now face a challenge in generating positive returns in a period of range-bound–or worse, rising–rates, which could partially reverse this discounting windfall. Trend following strategies, which take long or short positions across equity, bond, currency and commodity futures markets consistent with trends in these markets, rode the long downward trend in rates and often profited. However, unlike most passive strategies (and many active ones), trend followers have no fixed directional bias and can short any and all markets that are falling. By their nature, trend followers will often miss turning points. But whether markets are rising or falling, if trends are persistent and strong, trend following strategies are designed to seek profits.

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Ep. 62: It Takes Two with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

It Takes Two with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
It Takes Two with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

“It takes two to make things go right, it takes two to make it out of sight”. That’s a market for you. It takes you over there and me over here and we reach across to make a deal. That’s what the market is: it’s a bunch of hands shaking, except it’s in the form of stocks or futures. Covel talks about “Pawn Stars” and how it’s simply price discovery; two people coming together to find a price. Covel takes this and expands on how it’s terribly complicated to get to a price. But here’s the trick: except for trend followers nobody really wants to talk about how the stuff that gets to the price is waste product. The price is the smartest one out there. Covel also talks about the source of trend following profits in the zero sum game. Trend trader Dave Druz makes the case that it’s the risk premium from hedgers. Covel talks about hedgers, the futures market, how it’s very much like insurance in a way, and how it relates to the source of trend following profits. Covel also talks about a white paper called “The Winners and Losers of the Zero Sum Game: The Origins of Trading Profits, Price Efficiency, and Market Liquidity” by Lawrence Harris, and how it changed the direction of his own career.

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Ep. 61: Your First Loss is Your Best Loss with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Your First Loss is Your Best Loss with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
Your First Loss is Your Best Loss with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Michael Covel dives into the topic of cutting your losses, opening with a quote from “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel: “The fighter still remains”. It’s a personal fight and personal responsibility for all those out there. And if you trade to money the fight to understand the topic of losses should be at the top of your list of concerns. Most people want to hear “instant profits”; they want to run away from discussing losses. However, knowing how to strategically approach losses is one of the most important concepts to understand as a trend following trader. Covel shares a note from a fan who made a connection between Covel’s work and some of the ideas found in famed quarterback Joe Montana’s book, “The Winning Spirit”: “In training for success, we shouldn’t hide from failure. Just like football players in the film room, we study failure. We want to see how it happens and which strategies work to keep us from making the same mistakes again.” This doesn’t just apply to trading: The loss cutting can be a relationship, a business, a family member–it can be anything. How do you know when to cut your losses and get out? Covel goes on to talk about the concepts of opportunity costs and sunk costs. When you’ve spent the money and it turns out to be “gone” you can’t fret about it. It’s over–it’s a sunk cost. An opportunity cost is equally important: If you are doing A, you can’t do B. It’s a choice. If you invest your time, energy, or money in one relationship or one business, you can’t spend your time, energy, or money with another. There is a cost to choosing one opportunity over another. Covel expands on these concepts relating them to familiar companies like Microsoft and Apple. Covel goes on to discuss how people have difficulty letting bygones be bygones; why people have difficulty with stop-losses in trading; and why having a system that forces you to take losses is the foundation of trend following trading success.

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