Monday, July 20, 2009

Stevenson, Precision Trading

Trade management is critical to a trader’s success, yet in the literature it often takes second place to entry strategies. J. R. Stevenson’s Precision Trading with Stevenson Price and Time Targets (Traders Press, 2004) combines the insights of Gann (measured move) and Hurst (cycles) to describe a way to manage trades, to understand where the market may go in relation to where it has been and when it might get there. It is not, he stresses, a trading method; it is an aid in trading and analyzing markets. The price and time targets “are guide posts or signs to help guide you on your journey.”

Software packages such as Ensign and Ninja Trader offer drawing tools that make it mindlessly easy to plot Stevenson’s price and time targets. The emphasis in the last sentence should be on the word “mindlessly.” Without a guide that explains the rationale for these targets and how to interpret target “misses” (overshooting or undershooting on price or on time) the trader is not using the charting tool to its full advantage.

Stevenson wrote this manual when he was 80 years old; he had plenty of time to test out his ideas. And fortunately he did not use valuable chunks of his remaining time to pad the book with information and advice readily available elsewhere. He describes his ideas, illustrates them with easily readable charts, and asks questions now and again of the reader to test comprehension of the material. That’s it.

By the way, for the reader in search of entry strategies Stevenson provides one suggestion that by itself is probably worth the price of the book (directly from Traders Press, not from the Amazon price-gouger). Like everything in Precision Trading, it is simple yet theoretically elegant.

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