Technical Analysis from A to Z. S. Achelis

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Over the last decade I have met many of the top technical analysis "gurus" as well as shared experiences with thousands of newcomers. The common element I've discovered among investors who use technical analysis, regardless of their expertise, is the desire to learn more. No single book, nor any collection of books, can provide a complete explanation of technical analysis. Not only is the field too massive, covering every thing from Federal Reserve reports to Fibonacci Arcs, but it is also evolving so quickly that anything written today becomes incomplete (but not obsolete) tomorrow. Armed with the above knowledge and well aware of the myriad of technical analysis books that are already available, I feel there is a genuine need for a concise book on technical analysis that serves the needs of both the novice and veteran investor. That is what I have strived to create.

The first half of this book is for the newcomer. It is an introduction to technical analysis that presents basic concepts and terminology. The second half is a reference that is designed for anyone using technical analysis. It contains concise explanations of numerous technical analysis tools in a reference format.

When my father began using technical analysis thirty years ago, many people considered technical analysis just another 1960's adventure into the occult. Today, technical analysis is accepted as a viable analytical approach by most universities and brokerage firms. Rarely are large investments made without reviewing the technical climate. Yet even with its acceptance, the number of people who actually perform technical analysis remains relatively small. It is my hope that this book will increase the awareness and use of technical analysis, and in turn, improve the results of those who practice it.

Should I buy today? What will prices be tomorrow, next week, or next year? Wouldn't investing be easy if we knew the answers to these seemingly simple questions? Alas, if you are reading this book in the hope that technical analysis has the answers to these questions, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you early--it doesn't. However, if you are reading this book with the hope that technical analysis will improve your investing, I have good news--it will!

The term "technical analysis" is a complicated sounding name for a very basic approach to investing. Simply put, technical analysis is the study of prices, with charts being the primary tool.

The roots of modern-day technical analysis stem from the Dow Theory, developed around 1900 by Charles Dow. Stemming either directly or indirectly from the Dow Theory, these roots include such principles as the trending nature of prices, prices discounting all known information, confirmation and divergence, volume mirroring changes in price, and support/resistance. And of course, the widely followed Dow Jones Industrial Average is a direct offspring of the Dow Theory.

Charles Dow's contribution to modern-day technical analysis cannot be understated. His focus on the basics of security price movement gave rise to a completely new method of analyzing the markets.

The price of a security represents a consensus. It is the price at which one person agrees to buy and another agrees to sell. The price at which an investor is willing to buy or sell depends primarily on his expectations. If he expects the security's price to rise, he will buy it; if the investor expects the price to fall, he will sell it. These simple statements are the cause of a major challenge in forecasting security prices, because they refer to human expectations. As we all know firsthand, humans are not easily quantifiable nor predictable. This fact alone will keep any mechanical trading system from working consistently.

Because humans are involved, I am sure that much of the world's investment decisions are based on irrelevant criteria. Our relationships with our family, our neighbors, our employer, the traffic, our income, and our previous success and failures, all influence our confidence, expectations, and decisions.

Security prices are determined by money managers and home managers, students and strikers, doctors and dog catchers, lawyers and landscapers, and the wealthy and the wanting. This breadth of market participants guarantees an element of unpredictability and excitement.

If we were all totally logical and could separate our emotions from our investment decisions, then, fundamental analysis the determination of price based on future earnings, would work magnificently. And since we would all have the same completely logical expectations, prices would only change when quarterly reports or relevant news was released. Investors would seek "overlooked" fundamental data in an effort to find undervalued securities.

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