Sunday, October 23, 2005

Moneyball the Market

"Baseball - of all things - was an example of how an unscientific culture responds, or fails to respond, to the scientific method." -- Michael Lewis

The two sides are, on the one hand, the old scouts and, on the other, Billy Beane. The old scouts are like a Greek chorus, it is their job to underscore the eternal themes of baseball. The eternal themes are precisely what Billy Beane wants to exploit for profit - by ignoring them." -- Michael Lewis

"By analyzing baseball statistics you could see through a lot of baseball nonsense. For instance, when baseball managers talked about scoring runs, they tended to focus on team batting average, but if you ran the analysis you could see that the number of runs a team scored bore little relation to that team's batting average. It correlated much more exactly with a team's on-base and slugging percentages. A lot of the offensive tactics that made baseball managers famous - the bunt, the steal, the hit and run - could be proven to have been, in most situations, either pointless or self-defeating." -- Michael Lewis

"tinkering with the records of baseball games to see how the machinery of the baseball offense works. I do not start with the numbers any more than a mechanic starts with a monky wrench. I start with the game, with the things that I see there and the things that people say there. And I ask: Is it true? Can you validate it? Can you measure it? How does it fit with the rest of the machinery? And for those answers I go to the record books...What is remarkable to me is that I have so little company. Baseball keeps copious records, and people talk about them and argue about them and think about them a great deal. Why doesn't anybody use them? Why doesn't anybody say, in the face of this contention or that one, "Prove it"?" -- Bill James

These are some of my favorite quotes from the book, Moneyball by Michael Lewis. I especially like the Bill James quote basically asking why if we have the data and are asking the right questions...why oh why don't we use them in our strategies? Instead we focus on arguing our point with opinions. Enjoy reading books where the author makes the case to invest in stocks because Echo Boomers are an emerging powerful consumer and a host of other dynamics that can't be tested nor quantified on enough data points to matter.

This is why I like the recent Larry Connors book, How Markets Really Work. No opinions or pithy remarks. Connors instead focuses on Moneyballing the Market. Taking commonly held beliefs and turning them upside down and exposing them for what they truly are...eternal themes of the market sung by the Greek chorus of brokers, analysts, and media pundits.

Questions are asked and data is analyzed. And this analysis of data is what triggered this review. It changed the way I create, test, and design my systems. Before I would come up with an idea and immediately run a template system with my idea to expose the common statistics I look, avg gain, max drawdown, etc. From there I would begin filtering to improve and refine.

But, I really like the Connors method instead. He asks a question like is it true that new short-term highs are a sign of a healthy market? Then collects data on short-term highs and corresponding returns and short-term lows and corresponding returns into table form. Then he creates bar charts and equity curves of the comparison between the two to aid in visually analyzing the results of the study. I can see all kinds of possibilities with this method. It feels like more of your original edge is maintained instead of getting bogged down into filtering down the edge into the statistics you are trying to achieve. Plus, via the bar charts and equity curves you can really see whether the edge you think you have is true and robust against a benchmark and opposite view. One of the possibilities of this method is throwing in acrary's random trades from the Edge Test into the mix.

The downside of the book? I would enjoy more tests! More questions! It's just rare to find someone who asks and tests the questions you've been asking and answering yourself. Only other book like it that I've found is Altucher's Trade like a Hedge Fund book. I would have also enjoyed some discussion on how the questions asked relate to individual stocks within the general market.

Overall a book that can help in your pursuit of trading Jeet Kun Do. With that in mind, I'll leave you with this quote:

"True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns." -- Bruce Lee

Side Note
What's happening to my Astros? It's the 8th inning and Astros are down by 2. The Sox pitchers seem to have the Astros ticket. Especially last night when we had just a good lineup at bat and the big wide one took em' by one. Ah! The pain of being a Houston Astros fan. :)

C'mon Stros!

Later Trades,


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