Sunday, November 05, 2017

Resources: Learning Technical Analysis

It's no secret that I'm a skeptic regarding traditional technical analysis, per the recent blog post.  Still, I respect objective reality and acknowledge that I've been honored to know a number of successful traders who make active use of technical ways of understanding markets.  My sense is that they are skilled in identifying stable market regimes and the patterns that characterize those regimes.  Peter Brandt's newsletter stands out as a technical resource that covers a wide range of assets, with a track record documented in real time.  The newsletter also shares the accumulated wisdom and experience of a seasoned trader, an equally valuable contribution.  It's hard to dismiss technical analysis entirely when an experienced hand is garnering real time returns that beat the pants off most money managers.

So how can a trader learn the best of technical analysis and avoid the hype and mumbo-jumbo?  My favorite text is Cliff Sherry's classic, The Mathematics of Technical Analysis.  Another phenomenal resource is the cycle work of John Ehlers, which forms the basis of another service with an outstanding track record: StockSpotter.  Both take a quant approach to the analysis of price behavior, adding an important element of rigor to the common use of charts and indicators.  Brandt's newsletter stands out as a real time resource that not only makes market calls, but explains these in technical terms.

Another recent set of learning resources has been offered by Adam Grimes.  He has recently supplemented his book on technical analysis with a free course and a hands-on workbook.  The workbook is a compendium of resources Adam has offered over the years, spanning trading psychology, the psychology of learning, chart reading, and basic statistical methods for assessing the validity of technical patterns.  Adam makes the excellent point that technical formulations are really ways of identifying patterns that capture two factors:  value (mean reversion) and momentum (price continuation).  He stresses the importance of understanding the "stories" behind charts and price action, not simply following preset indicators and chart formations.    

There is a lot of lazy technical analysis out there.  One thing stressed by all the above resources is analytical rigor.  Technical analysis can provide valuable market insights, but not shortcuts.