Sunday, November 15, 2015

Do we even need charts?

In his book How I Made $2 Million in the Stock Market, Nicolas Darvas talked about how he created his own 'box' method of trading, based on simply recording the daily high, low and closing prices of stocks he was trading or interested in. This information was provided by telegram from his broker to wherever he was performing his dance act across the globe.

In How to Trade in Stocks, which he wrote shortly before his death in 1940, Jesse Livermore reproduced his own tabulated records which simply recorded price in the relevant columns denoting various price reaction points, whether the stock was in an upward or downward trend etc. From here he was able to identify the 'pivotal points' for each stock, which then helped him to commence his trading operations.

In both these cases there were no price charts used, no indicators such as moving averages, and no oscillators such as RSI (originally developed by Welles Wilder in the 1970's) or stochastics (created by George Lane in the late 1950's). How on earth did these traders of yesteryear cope?

In this post, I talked about simplifying things and avoiding price 'noise' by doing away with price candles, and simply relying on the price levels denoting recent highs and lows, such as those indicated by using Donchian price channels. But occasionally I find myself questioning if that is still too 'complicated' an approach? 

Livermore himself had this to say on the subject:

"A great many traders keep charts or records of averages. They chase them around, up and down, and there is no question that these charts of averages do point out a definite trend at times. Personally, charts have never appealed to me. I think they are altogether too confusing. Nevertheless, I am just as much of a fanatic in keeping records as other people are in maintaining charts. They may be right, and I may be wrong."

I'm not aware or have come across any traders who use simple, non-computerised records like those used by Darvas or Livermore. Like most things, people have attempted to program these approaches into charting packages and/or create computerised systems around them. However, I'm pretty sure there are people out there who do still trade in this manner - and if they are, I suspect they are quietly continuing to make money in the markets.

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