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A weekly reality check on sensible investing and financial decision-making for Canadians. Hosted by Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore.

May 7, 2020

Today on the Rational Reminder Podcast we interview a seasoned journalist from The Wall Street Journal, Greg Zuckerman. With 23 years of experience with the media outlet, Greg has written extensively about the most prominent figures in the world of investing, including Jim Simons, John Paulson and Carl Icahn, generally focusing his attention on significant trades, traders and fund managers. In this episode, Greg shares how covering the stories of renowned investors and fund managers have influenced his investment philosophy. Specifically, we get into his book about John Paulson, The Greatest Trade Ever, and why Greg reckons Paulson never managed to achieve the same level of success following this famous trade. His work on the founder of Renaissance Technologies, Jim Simons, also produces fascinating points of discussion, including why their Medallion Fund became so successful and how capping the size of the fund contributed to its outstanding performance. Greg also talks about the idiosyncratic character of Simons, the role of luck, why taking an algorithmic approach to investing is likely to produce good outcomes in the long run, and why people should not always pay attention to the advice of “smart money” sources like hedge funds. 


Key Points From This Episode:

  • How covering the stories of prominent fund managers has affected Greg’s investment philosophy. [0:03:27.1]
  • Thoughts on the likelihood of fund managers outperforming the market. [0:05:54.1]
  • Hear about John Paulson’s big trade and why he has failed to outperform since. [0:07:24.1]
  • Find out what made Renaissance Technologies’ Medallion Fund so successful. [0:11:25.1]
  • The role that capping the size of their fund has played in their ongoing success. [0:13:30.1]
  • More about Jim Simons: the mathematician with outstanding people skills. [0:14:46.1]
  • The influence that Simons personally had on the outcome of the Medallion Fund. [0:17:02.1]
  • The unpredictability of luck and intuition Simon’s relied upon in his early days of trading. [0:22:22.5]
  • George’s biggest surprise in writing the story and his general thoughts on market efficiency. [0:24:27.1]
  • Advice about investors making decisions based on the opinions of people like Buffett and Dalio. [0:28:06:7]
  • Algorithmic thinking and other lessons from working with Renaissance Technologies. [0:31:26.1]
  • Why the so-called “smart money” sources like hedge funds are not so smart. [0:34:28.6]
  • Learn how Greg became interested in Wall Street characters and how he gets access to their stories. [0:36:36.6]