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Trend Following Is Dead…blah.. blah.. blah…

Before I head off to Fiji for a week I was cleaning out an image archive I keep when I came across this chart of Poseidon from the 1960’s.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 9.53.56 pm

Source: Reserve Bank of Australia

Despite what people say nothing ever changes…..

Jesse And The Quake

At eight o’clock in the morning of Wednesday April 18th 1906, Jesse Livermore was sound asleep in his New York hotel room after arriving back late from Palm Beach the previous evening.

3000 miles away, across the country in California, it was five o’clock in the morning and the city of San Francisco slept contentedly. Barely two minutes later, the earth shook and all 410,000 citizens were awoken as the San Andreas Fault suddenly ruptured. There were two quakes. The initial quake was hardly noticeable but, 20 seconds later, the earth tremored for 42 seconds at force eight, just about as bad as it gets. It shattered the surface of the earth for a length of 296 miles across California. At its epicentre, the ground moved 28 feet.

More here – The Reformed Broker

What moved share prices in the nineteenth-century London stock market?

Abstract

Using a new weekly blue-chip index, this article investigates the causes of stock price movements on the London market between 1823 and 1870. We find that economic fundamentals explain about 15 per cent of weekly and 34 per cent of monthly variation in share prices. Contemporary press reporting from the London Stock Exchange is used to ascertain what market participants thought was causing the largest movements on the market. The vast majority of large movements were attributed by the press to geopolitical, monetary, railway-sector, and financial-crisis news. Investigating the stock price changes on an independent list of events reaffirms these findings, suggesting that the most important specific events that moved markets were wars involving European powers.

More here – The Economic History Review

Before and After Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry himself would be the first to admit he didn’t invent rock ’n’ roll, but he came to define it in a series of iconic singles made between 1955 and 1959.

Mr. Berry wrote almost all his hits himself, and he drew from the music he loved — from the blues and boogie to country and Calypso. The result was a hybrid sound that, in 1955, was just beginning to be called “rock ’n’ roll.”

Here, an audio guide to just a few of his revolutionary songs: what came before, and what came after. Listen to the sound of rock ’n’ roll being made.

More here – The New York Times

A Basic Misunderstanding

The chart below is from a site called Spurious Correlations, it takes seemingly disparate facts and matches them together to create the illusion of a positive correlation. It is a simple and effective way of illustrating the problem of mistaking causation for correlation which is constant problem in the way people both think and view data.

correlation

If you were to take this at face value you would accept that there is a link between the number of films that Nicholas Cage has appeared in and the number of people who drowned by falling into a pool. You could even stretch the data a little and suggest that these drownings were not an accident and anyone who had even seen a Nicholas Cage film would nod sagely in agreement. Now consider the chart below which looks at significant historical events and the rise of the Dow.

This rather imposing looking chart is the centrepiece of an article titled The Dow’s tumultuous 120-year history, in one chart which appears on the MarketWatch site.  The article boldly claims the following –

At its simplest, the chart proves once again that over the long term, the stock market always rises because “intelligence, creativity, and innovation always trump fear,” according to Kacher.

No it doesnt – this is mistaking causation and correlation. What the chart shows is the profound upward bias of the Dow and this is the driving force of the index moving higher. This is an example of survivor bias nothing more. The original Dow components were as follows

Dow

It is obvious that these components would change over time and that this change would drag the index higher as non performing or irrelevant issues were moved out. The notion that it is innovation that is moving the market higher is not true and can be illustrated by the simple fact that Apple arguably the most innovative technology company of recent times was only added to the index in 2015. Google whose technology permeates everyday life and Amazon who have revolutionized retailing are nowhere to be seen. The Dow has remained technology light since its inception – if technology and creativity were the drivers of the market then these new companies would be added to the index very quickly.

It is quite a simple matter to generate events stick them on a chart and say they have some significance but simply saying it doesn’t make it true. As I explored last week news and significant events tends to have a complex relationship with an index and the question of does news move markets has been answered in the negative.

The article then goes onto make the bold claim –

 Investing is more challenging than brain surgery,” Kacher told MarketWatch.

I will leave others to ponder the idiocy of this last quote.

Old School Cool

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The Economy’s Hidden Problem: We’re Out of Big Ideas

By all appearances, we’re in a golden age of innovation. Every month sees new advances in artificial intelligence, gene therapy, robotics and software apps. Research and development as a share of gross domestic product is near an all-time high. There are more scientists and engineers in the U.S. than ever before.

None of this has translated into meaningful advances in Americans’ standard of living.

Economies grow by equipping an expanding workforce with more capital such as equipment, software and buildings, then combining capital and labor more creatively. This last element, called “total factor productivity,” captures the contribution of innovation. Its growth peaked in the 1950s at 3.4% a year as prior breakthroughs such as electricity, aviation and antibiotics reached their maximum impact. It has steadily slowed since and averaged a pathetic 0.5% for the current decade.

Outside of personal technology, improvements in everyday life have been incremental, not revolutionary. Houses, appliances and cars look much like they did a generation ago. Airplanes fly no faster than in the 1960s. None of the 20 most-prescribed drugs in the U.S. came to market in the past decade.

The innovation slump is a key reason the American standards of living have stagnated since 2000. Indeed, absent a turnaround, that stagnation is likely to continue, deepening the malaise that has left the middle class so dissatisfied.

More here – Wall Street Journal

PS: No invention of the past 50 years matches the invention of indoor plumbing for a change in the way people live.

General Advice Warning

The Trading Game Pty Ltd (ACN: 099 576 253) is an AFSL holder (Licence no: 468163). This information is correct at the time of publishing and may not be reproduced without formal permission. It is of a general nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any of the information you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.