If Edwards and Magee wrote the bible of technical analysis in 1948 when they first published "Technical Analysis of Stock Trends." then why do we need a Ninth Edition of their classic? This question was foremost in my mind as I began reading this recently released version of a book I spent many hours with as I prepared for the CMT exams. After reading all 832 pages, I realized that in many ways, the financial markets, and technical analysis, are finally maturing to the point where we can fully grasp the significance of what was first written almost sixty years ago. With a focus on pragmatic portfolio theory, editor Charles Bassetti significantly contributes to the technical analysis body of knowledge especially related to tactics, and has created a book worth a space on every technician's bookshelf.
In this edition, Bassetti delivers much more than an update - it's actually a new book. He focuses on strategies for increasing profits:
* The basics of traditional chart analysis are clearly presented, just as Robert Edwards meant for them to be. In keeping with the practice of earlier editions, Bassetti retains the original charts showing examples of patterns from the 1940s and earlier. He also includes more than two dozen new charts, demonstrating that the same old patterns still work today. The detailed discussion of the market psychology that forms these patterns may stimulate modern analysts to program the patterns.
* Adds a comprehensive explanation of Magee's "basing points" procedure for setting initial and trailing stops on any position. Bassetti adds a chapter and charts to clarify this powerful concept, which in itself is worth more than the cost of the book.
* For what may be the first time, Bassetti provides an annotated chart of the Dow, combining an in-depth discussion of Dow Theory with a visual history of the signals. We've all seen tables showing the sell signal in Oct 1929 or the buy signal in late-1990 which lasted more than seven years, but the chart erases any doubt that Dow Theory is a valuable timing tool. Creating a comprehensive source on the Dow Theory, he also includes an overview of Robert Colby's method to automate the signals.
* Provides a link to [...] which offers downloadable material that supplements the text. As one example, readers can download pdf files of the Dow Theory signals for closer examination.
* Offers new perspectives on short-term and futures trading. The extensive new material on commodity trading, including a complete trading plan, was not addressed in previous editions.
Bassetti also ensures the reader understands the similarities between Magee's Sensitivity Index and Modern Portfolio Theory's Beta; and the striking resemblance of Magee's Composite Leverage to the financial engineering concept of Value at Risk. Readers of previous editions may not have realized that Magee developed these concepts decades before Nobel Prize-winning work was undertaken in these areas. Magee wrote in the language of the trader (semi-log charts), rather than the academician and his ideas have been overlooked by economic theorists.
A classic book is one that stands the test of time. No one can argue that Technical Analysis of Stock Trends fails in this regard. Patterns that worked a hundred years ago are still found in financial markets and they still work. The forecasting ability of patterns lies in their ability to document the history of human nature, which remains unchanged over many centuries.
Another feature of classic works is a unique style. Edwards and Magee filled their work with examples - current at the time of publication. They wrote with clarity and ease of style not usually found in textbooks. Their text was a practical "how to" manual that explained the "study of the action of the market itself" in concrete terms. It appealed to those seeking the Holy Grail on Wall Street, and to those serious students of the markets seeking an edge. In this new edition, Bassetti retains all of their style and introduces his own, which in all ways is similar to the original, but with a modern edge.
Bassetti believes that Magee's concept of basing points is worth a great deal of additional study. This is one of the most significant contributions he makes to the new edition, updating this section in the tactics to ensure that all traders understand this method of stop placement. His example is clear, and the reader can instantly implement this technique, which Bassetti thinks of as one of the most valuable in the book.
Some question whether classical chart reading is still a valid discipline in an era defined by cheap data, powerful scanning and backtesting software, instantaneous execution and quantitative analysis. After reading this book, you'll be left with a deeper appreciation of the value of chart reading and will become an even stronger proponent of technical analysis in modern markets.