Richard Dennis is a famous commodities trader from the 1970’s. He is famous for setting up a pioneering team of ‘Turtle Traders’ who went on to make huge profits in the financial markets using a simple mechanical trading method. In doing so, he managed to win a bet with fellow trader William Eckhardt, that ‘anyone’ could be taught to trade successfully.
Dennis is known as a commodities trader but the truth is that his fund would trade a whole gamut of financial futures including stock market indices like the dow, commodities like sugar, and currencies like the Japanese yen.
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Trading from a universe of different futures allowed Dennis the ability to more easily find profitable signals. It’s thought that Dennis retired from trading shortly after the 1987 crash although many of the original turtle traders continue to trade today.
The original Turtle Trading strategy was based on a simple rule-based breakout system that was completely mechanical in nature.
Basically, whenever a market broke out of its recent range, Dennis would initiate a buy or sell order in the direction of the move and hope to profit from a new trend. He would also use a filter rule which stated that the trade should only be taken if the last time the signal occurred resulted in a profit (hypothetical or real).
When the market turns back and begins to move the other way he would cut his losses and look for a new signal. Trading in this way allowed Dennis to capture a number of big trends with a win ratio of around 35%-40%. (This is typical for trend following systems).
Trading forex like Dennis is thus a relatively simple affair of following breakouts in currency markets and riding those trends until they start to go back the other way. After 5 years of trading this method, the Turtle Traders had reportedly earned over $175 million.
Since the 1990’s when the Turtle Trading strategy became more widely known, the strategy has been written about in a number of published trading books and it’s thought that the strategy no longer works. Indeed, the exact strategy that Dennis and the Turtle Traders used is shown to have hit a peak in the late 1970’s which it has rarely been able to recover.
However, even though that strategy is no longer considered profitable, a number of Turtle Traders, William Eckhardt included, still trade the markets today with great success. It would not be unreasonable to suggest that they are trading a derivative model, not too dissimilar to that of the original Turtle system.
Further reading: 5 most predictable currency pairsGet the 5 most predictable currency pairs