A comprehensive history of the evolution of technical analysis from ancient times to the Internet age.
Whether driven by mass psychology, fear, or greed of investors, the forces of supply and demand, or a combination, technical analysis has flourished for thousands of years on the outskirts of the financial establishment. In The Evolution of Technical Analysis: Financial Prediction from Babylonian Tablets to Bloomberg Terminals, MIT's Andrew W. Lo details how the charting of past stock prices for the purpose of identifying trends, patterns, strength, and cycles within market data has allowed traders to make informed investment decisions based in logic, rather than on luck. This book:
The Evolution of Technical Analysis explores a fascinating history, tracing where technical analysts failed, how they succeeded, and what it all means for today's traders and investors.
©2010 Andrew W. Lo and Jasmina Hasanhodzic (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Considered as a history of finance, along the lines of "The Ascent of Money," this book shines at many moments. The authors have a great eye for moving across a big canvas, yet with telling detail, that provides basic understanding of finance and markets in a developmental way. It teaches a lot of terminology, and gives capsule stories of important persons and their contributions. Those are the best parts, taking up a significant part of this book.
I approached this as a skeptic of "technical analysis," previously thinking it mostly a jumble of ad hoc superstitions and rules of thumb, often cloaked in pseudo-scientific jargon, often bent and backfit and rationalized to the actual facts, often avoiding any real rigor or accountability or testability, possibly working sometimes to the detriment of the uniformed and gullible investor. This book did not significantly change my basic opinion. I compliment the authors for keeping a good balance between skepticism and boosterism, and providing in brief summaries some results of studies probing into the matter. This book provided what I wanted, a catalog of the common signatures or forms of this kind of thinking, so I could recognize it (perhaps cloaked) in my own thinking. (After all, erroneous pattern recognition is wired into us, I believe. See "Fooled by Randomness" by Taleb, or any of the better general books on randomness and probability.) I therefore benefitted, in just the way I hoped to. Also, the authors had a tough task, descrilbing a jumble of techniques that spans the gamut from sheer astrology to more respectable forms of inference.
Some of the pure descriptions of technical analysis ideas per se, struck me as odd and tedious and sometimes left me rolling my eyes.
The book also points ahead to new conventions and schools of thinking, combining some of the best ideas of recent decades, and perhaps indicating new syntheses as successors to the efficient markets hypothesis and other major ideas in academic finance. Some of these new syntheses might in some sense be called forms of "technical analysis." I'm well satisfied.
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