TDI Podcast – Turning Points with Erik Townsend (#521)

A great conversation with Erik Townsend, host of the MacroVoices Podcast. We cover the current state of the economy with a focus on “Peak Cheap Oil” as well as what is actually going on in the hedge fund industry. Erik explains the Forth Turning and the 80-year cycle.

Retail earnings are flowing in and so far, not impressive. This week there are a few more important companies that will be reporting. What to expect…

While earnings season has shown an excellent growth rate, geopolitical tensions are rising and the VIX is reacting. What should we expect from here?

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Erik Townsend is a retired software entrepreneur turned hedge fund manager. Throughout his career, Erik has capitalized on his ability to understand complex systems and anticipate paradigm shifts far in advance of the mainstream. A teenage computer protégé, he spent most of his high school years at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence laboratory, where he taught himself several computer programming languages. Erik became an independent software development and design consultant to Digital Corporation’s manufacturing systems technology group at age 17. By age 20 he owned his first private aircraft, after earning his private and commercial pilot’s licenses.

From his experience at MIT, Erik recognized that the IT industry’s failure to embrace distributed computing translated to an exceptional entrepreneurial opportunity. At age 21, Erik committed himself to developing and commercializing distributed application software technologies he was first exposed to at MIT in the late ’70s. By the mid-1980s, Erik had invented an approach to distributed system design that is now widely known as Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). After applying SOA concepts initially at Digital Equipment Corp (where he consulted for nearly 10 years), in 1992 Erik founded the Cushing Group, a boutique consultancy focused exclusively on bringing advanced distributed application computing technologies to market. The Cushing Group’s work with Wells Fargo Bank in the early 1990s paved the way for Wells Fargo to become the world’s first Internet Bank by early 1995.

Erik has become a passionate world traveler. He moved to Hong Kong in 2009 to get a better perspective on changing global economics. While living in Hong Kong, several hedge fund professionals he met there observed that through his own passionate trading activities, Erik was “already doing all the work of running a hedge fund except for picking up the phone and calling a lawyer and turning it into a fund”. Erik was flattered by the advice of his peers in Hong Kong to launch his own hedge fund, but wanted to finish his boots-on-ground evaluation of the global economy first. He spent just over sixteen month in 2011 and 2012 exploring the world, living in 28 cities in 18 countries during that period. Erik continues to live a very international lifestyle, and presently has homes in Hong Kong, Mexico and the United States.

Erik eventually took his Hong Kong friends’ advice to heart, and founded Fourth Turning Capital Management, LLC in 2013. Through that asset management company, he launched a Global Macro-strategy hedge fund in July 2013. In February 2016, in a joint effort with Nathan Egger, Erik launched Macro Voices, a new weekly financial podcast program which will target professional finance, high net worth, and other “sophisticated” investors who desire financial content at a level of sophistication and complexity above what the retail investment-focused podcasts on the Internet presently offer.


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Stocks mentioned in this episode: (VIX), (ROST), (OIL), (DKS), (HD), (WMT), (TGT)


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