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Jim Glassman Doesn’t Get Trend Following

We have long rebuked Jim Glassman’s writing in our forum (all Glassman articles). He is the stock picker for the Washington Post. He most recently took a stab at trying to explain trend following:

Programs sold by Merrill Lynch & Co. are run by Campbell & Co., which, according to Merrill’s literature, “uses a computerized, technical, trend-following approach combined with quantitative portfolio management analysis.” Don’t worry too much about what that means. When you buy managed futures [trend following], you are buying a black box that, you hope, spews out returns that will, again in Merrill’s words, potentially reduce overall portfolio volatility by diversifying beyond traditional investments.

Glassman’s is plainly poking fun at Keith Campbell. Does he know anything about him? Campbell has:

  • Beat the S&P by a country mile over his 30 year trend following trading career.
  • Grown from a one-man shop to manage $6 billion dollars in client assets.
  • Stated clearly his strategy is not complex. Trend following can be explained on the back of an envelope.

Great trend followers are not “black box”. They have a strategy of trading rules that can be explained to anyone. The real problem here seems to be Glassman’s inability to accept technical analysis as valid.

Perhaps before Glassman starts ripping trend following and one of its oldest and best managers, he should do some homework.

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