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Ray Dalio on Mistakephobia


Ray Dalio nails the education system well: “I believe that our society’s ‘mistakephobia’ is crippling, a problem that begins in most elementary schools, where we learn to learn what we are taught rather than to form our own goals and to figure out how to achieve them. We are fed with facts and tested and those who make the fewest mistakes are considered to be the smart ones, so we learn that it is embarrassing to not know and to make mistakes. Our education system spends virtually no time on how to learn from mistakes, yet this is critical to real learning. As a result, school typically doesn’t prepare young people for real life—unless their lives are spent following instructions and pleasing others. In my opinion, that’s why so many students who succeed in school fail in life.”

If you got mistakephobia in trading–you will fail. More.

Source: Ray Dalio, Principles. Bridgewater, 2011.

Ep. 460: Billionaire Words with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Billionaire Words with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
Billionaire Words with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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On today’s podcast Michael breaks apart comments from a Ray Dalio article. Dalio is one of the most successful hedge fund managers alive. He does not give out too much information on his trading strategy, except that he is 100% systematic.

Before Michael begins reading the article he asks, “When the Fed raises interest rates, what will happen? Will the world end like people seem to think?” The first article he reads from was written in 2015 and answers questions on interest rates and the Fed. Next, Michael reads an article from 2016 where Ray comments on the Fed further. Ray is running a systematic firm, however, he gives historical narratives of the debt cycle. Michael still asks the question, “How do Ray’s words connect to trading? When to buy? When to sell?”

Michael stresses that presenting “Oz behind the curtain” statements do not help anyone in there trading. If someone said buy here, sell here, that would help people, but using terminology that could be interpreted as anything is worthless.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Fundamental analysis
  • Bubbles
  • Zero Interest Rate Policy
  • Fed
  • Crony capitalism
  • Quantitative easing

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Ep. 369: Market Predictability with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Market Predictability with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
Market Predictability with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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Just as shamans have been consulted throughout time to provide the desperate and gullible with prophecies, so too are financial shamans (often masquerading as experts) are looked to for comforting myths about market direction.

Of course, we can and should prepare for the many possible market eventualities by looking at the data and trading trends, but to expect anyone to be able to provide absolute predictions for the future is absurd. The truth is that we do not know for sure, and anyone that tells you they do know might as well be gazing into a crystal ball.

Today’s episode looks at the various attitudes and beliefs concerning the falsehood of market predictability. Michael Covel runs the commentary, drawing a narrative thread through various excerpts from some of the most prominent economic and financial thinkers.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Recognizing when you are being misled by the experts
  • What to look for in trend analysis and what to be wary of
  • Considering bubbles and other unpredictable global factors in the markets
  • Finding an objective approach to investing based on quantifiable information
  • Considering timeless human investment psychology elements
  • Making investment decisions without being blinded by rigid economic processes or political ideologies

“It’s mind numbing to study financial history, because it is so repetitive: we do the exact same things over and over. We have followed this pattern in every major bubble, starting with the coin mania in the Roman empire.” – John Galbraith

Mentions & Resources:

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Trend Following Wisdom from Dalio

A recent email in:

(Indavertent) TF Wisdom from Dalio:

“To make money in the markets, you have to think independently and be humble. You have to be an independent thinker because you can’t make money agreeing with the consensus view, which is already embedded in the price. Yet whenever you’re betting against the consensus there’s a significant probability you’re going to be wrong, so you have to be humble.”

Wisdom from a man that knows how to trade unexpected trends in a 100% systematic fashion.

The Ray Dalio Debate Continues

Feedback in:

You raise interesting points about how Dalio’s decision rule signals actually work. Based on Schwager’s interview of Dalio it would seem that Dalio has quantitative portfolio risk based signals just like [Tom] Basso does. [Refer to your Basso Q&A episode. Could it be that failing a fundamental signal, portfolio risk can start an exit/re-balance program on positions exceeding a covariance threshold in one of Dalio’s portfolio risk decision rules? I am looking forward to your future podcast on this topic.

I do not know Dalio’s systems. He has said he uses only fundamental data, but 100% systematically.

That seems original, if it is indeed his trading approach.

How Do the Famed Macro Hedge Funds Really Trade?

How does Ray Dalio, George Soros and Paul Tudor Jones trade? The other big macro traders you read about in the books? How do they make their money? They are all fundamental guys who have big opinions about the directions of major markets (currencies, bonds, stocks, metals, energies, etc.) and use all of their intelligence to make the right bets year after year decade after decade? That’s their process?

Hold that thought.

How do trend followers trade? That answer is the foundation of my books. How can you be sure how trend followers trade? Their performance data for starters. You can see their performance data. You can look at the markets moving and see where the profits originated. And over the years the performance of trend following traders can also be compared to other trend followers where you can see the correlation of their performance. So not only does the story of what trend followers do to make money make sense, you can see the proof.

Confidence builder 101.

Now back to the big macro traders (many of which are positioned as fundamental traders; Dalio, for example, says he is 100% systematic using only fundamentals) that don’t hold themselves out as trend followers, but seem to trade the same markets making money off the big moves across all markets (just like trend following traders). Traders like Dalio, Soros, Simons, etc. are harder to analyze as their performance numbers are not as public (like trend following traders). Plus, even when the big macro traders give hints of what they do–are their words believable? You mean I should just accept that the big macro funds trade using fundamentals? Trust the media accounts? Trust the press releases?

Think about it this way. Consider “Argo” the winner of 2013 Oscar for Best Film.

What did Roger Ebert say about the film?

The craft in this film is rare. It is so easy to manufacture a thriller from chases and gunfire, and so very hard to fine-tune it out of exquisite timing and a plot that’s so clear to us we wonder why it isn’t obvious to the Iranians. After all, who in their right mind would believe a space opera was being filmed in Iran during the hostage crisis?

After all, who in their right mind would believe the most famous macro hedge funds promoted for decades as fundamentally-based are really classic technical trend followers? Look at it this way: If the American government in the late 1970s could pull off the Canadian Caper (the basis of the film Argo) with fantastic subterfuge, isn’t it possible that some of the richest men on the planet could disguise their trading technique to sell a story to investors? Do I know this to be 100% true? No, but draw your own conclusions, do your own homework and try hard to not blindly accept press accounts.

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