Catching Mini-Trends Within A Bigger Picture Trend - 1990 Technical Analysis Case Study

Posted by Bigtrends on February 12, 2013 8:26 AM

Catching Mini-Trends Within A Bigger Picture Trend - 1990 Technical Analysis Case Study "The Rest of the Story" [BigTrends Editor's Note:  The author here uses an example of late-2012 and a detailed case study of the 1990 stock market basically to explain that mini, smaller trends can be whippy and "counter-trend" within a much larger big picture trend.  However, given our option trading time horizons of a single day to a couple of weeks primarily, these are precisely the kind of smaller trends that we can (and do) catch.  But it still is very interesting to study the detailed technical analysis of 1990 charts below and then the subsequent big picture trend for stocks.  Finding the right time frame is a very important aspect of successful technical analysis and trading, in terms of indicator length, holding period, etc.  Also, you do have to be willing to trade any vehicle in either direction over the short-term, and avoid being locked into "perma-bull" or "perma-bear" mindset.] I see a lot of people lately agonizing over what we should have done.  By that I mean it's obvious to all by now that the correct move was to buy stocks back in November 2012 instead of precious metals (GLD) (SLV) and miners (GDX).  I mean seriously, it's obvious that liquidity was going to flow into every asset class except precious metals.  Well, it's obvious now in hindsight anyway. Of course everyone has conveniently forgotten how tough it was coming out of that November low. There were ongoing concerns about the approaching fiscal cliff, not to mention a significant sell off as we approached the end of the year.  Once the fiscal cliff was resolved the markets rallied violently.  Of course no one was positioned ahead of the rally because there was the risk that politicians wouldn't make a deal.  So the upshot was almost everyone missed the first day, and virtually no one was expecting a second day of huge gains. So by that time the market was overbought and right up against resistance at the September highs. It's pretty tough to buy into an overbought market that is butting up against a major resistance level, so I don't think anyone could be faulted for abstaining at that point. Once the S&P 500 (SPX) (SPY) broke through 1475 it only took five days for it to reach the next resistance level at 1500.  So if you didn't buy immediately you missed that move also.   At that point we moved into the timing band for a half cycle low.  Again, probably a dangerous time to be initiating long positions.  Unfortunately the market didn't give us a half cycle low and continued higher, with two strong down days thrown in to keep traders off-balance. It's easy in hindsight to rationalize the correct trade, but as I have just shown, tough to do in real time. Next I'm going to show you a market progression. Imagine you are experiencing this in real time. In August of 1990 the stock market stagnated, formed a double top, and proceeded to plunge sharply below the 200 day moving average.  At this point, as we've heard many times, chartists were screaming that the market was clearly headed down. SPX 1990 Chart 1 Imagine your emotions on that Thursday in August.  Realistically, how many people would have been able to pull the trigger and buy at that point?  The answer is, not many. But buying on that Thursday, even though one's emotions were screaming sell, was the correct move. SPX 1990 Chart 2 Or was it? Well after two weeks the market certainly appears to be building a base for another leg higher.  At this point, although almost certainly nervous, one could probably rationalize adding to positions. SPX 1990 Chart 3 So let's see how that worked out. SPX 1990 Chart 4 Holy crap! That was a mistake.  A huge freaking mistake.  Sell, sell, sell! Whew, that was a close call. No sooner did the market break down then we get a strong reversal candle followed by another reversal candle five days later.  I have to say, it looks like we finally hit a bottom.  Buy everything back. SPX 1990 Chart 5 You've got to be kidding me! Wrong again.  This is obviously a bear market, time to sell short. SPX 1990 Chart 6 A couple of days later; Time to add to shorts. SPX 1990 Chart 7 A week later -- This sure looks like we finally made the right decision, as this is clearly a bear market, and obviously about to begin the next leg down. SPX 1990 Chart 8 But did one really make the right decision?  Remember this was a secular bull market.  As Paul Harvey used to say, now let's look at the rest of the story: SPX 1990 Chart 9 As you can see, clearly this was the buy of the century, although actually doing so and holding through that bottoming process was agonizing to say the least, or more likely virtually impossible. So might I suggest that when the gold bull become
s too frustrating, and you're ready to give up, you come back and review that 1990 bottom. Bull markets never make it easy.  Very few traders have the determination, stamina, foresight, and focus to make it all the way through one.  But the rewards for the very few that can weather every punch the bull dishes out... are huge. Courtesy of Toby Connor, GoldScents