The other day I heard somebody say:

"Assuming the future behaves the same as the past, I reason that this way makes my funds efficiently used".

I wanted to say, my experience is that the past is never like the future so we waste valuable time and skills on a false postulate.

As I see it, it is better to have a core strategy to deal with equity drawdowns, etc –based on logic–as opposed to a strategy based on the past real results or back tested as that is for the most part a make believe world since it never happens quite that way again.

Gary Rogan writes: 

Larry's statement seems to be exceptionally profound in what it's saying and in the unambiguous nature of what it's saying. Speculation seems to be about predicting the future. Is there anything but the past, in some sense, that can guide us towards correctly predicting the future? If so, and if it's not similarity, what is it about the past that can help predict the future?

John Netto comments: 

There are ample proverbs espousing the merits of both deriving information on events which have taken place before us, as well as the the complexities in attempting to accurately predict the future due to the inherent uniqueness of the time we are living. As a speculator in the financial markets, sports arena, and poker, it's my experience the answer lies somewhere in between. For me, the ability to extract alpha is how well I can ascertain what qualitative aspects are unique and execute a strategy from there.

Two sayings which are both contradictory and complimentary:

"Past is not prologue" "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it"

Gary Rogan writes: 

There are many ways to use the past, such as:

1. Under similar circumstances, Security A behaved a certain way during a statistically significant percentage of the time. I will therefore bet that Security A will do it again under similar circumstances.

2. In the past, a certain class of securities had a certain trajectory under similar circumstances. I will therefore bet that this new Security B, which seems fit to be a member of this class, is statistically likely to follow this trajectory close enough to bet on.

3. In the past, when people were this excited/depressed/confused you could bet with them/against them and make money. Let's do it again.

4. The past rarely repeats under these circumstances. Let's bet against the past.

I'm sure there is an infinite variety of similar observations. Yet in every case the past was used SOMEHOW. There is nothing but the past as the basis for human knowledge, and that's why I was so fascinated by Larry's statement, especially because he is a master of his game.

Craig Mee writes: 

Running a stop with any position, regardless of the backtest, is both logical and prudent.

Stefan Jovanovich adds:

When the British and French were forced to give up their remaining military strength in the Arabian Peninsula and the eastern Mediterranean - abandoning the base in Aden, being forced to withdraw from their assault on the Suez Canal, the U.S. did not replace them on the ground. The great fear was that "the loss of the Canal" would result in "the oil weapon" being used against "the West". The actual result was the development of supertankers that by-passed the Canal entirely and increased by an order of magnitude the ability of the oil exporters to ship their crude to Europe and Asia. At the height of the Suez crisis the inflation-adjusted price of crude (using the 1947 nominal price of $15 as the baseline) rose to $18 a barrel - higher than it had been during the Korean War. A decade and a half later - even as U.S. supplies went from 40% of world production to 10% - the inflation-adjusted price fell by nearly a third, hitting a low of $13 in 1972 after production began flowing from the North Sea discoveries.

I find myself wondering if the U.S. eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan and the withdrawal from Iraq already largely completed will not have the same paradoxical effects as the Anglo-French withdrawals did. I realize that this question is completely irrelevant to the questions that anyone trading in commodities has to answer; but those of us in the bleachers are interested in what the professionals on the field think will be the effects of the closing of America's 25-year military misadventures in Southwest Asia.

Larry's maxim: "it never happens quite that way again" - certainly applies to political history. This is the second time in my lifetime that the American public has lost its belief in the virtue of our allies. Last time they were wrong; this time they are right.



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