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Same Day. Same Event. Same Market. Different Story!

Same Day. Same Event. Same Market. Different Story!
"There is no group more subjective than conventional analysts." — Robert Prechter. 

By Vadim Pokhlebkin, courtesy of Elliott Wave International 

Elliott wavers sometimes hear the criticism that patterns in market charts can be "open to interpretation." For example, what looks like a finished 1-2-3 correction to one analyst, another analyst may interpret as 1-2-3 of a developing impulse, with waves 4 and 5 on the way.

Does this happen? Absolutely. (Although, there are always tools an Elliottician can employ to firm up the wave count.) But here’s the real question: What’s the alternative?

Typical alternatives amount to analysis of the fundamentals: Jobs, interest rates, CPI, PPI, what Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday — it all goes into the pot. Result? Well, if you think it’s clear and unambiguous, guess again. Here’s a fresh example.

On the evening of February 18, in a surprise move, the Federal Reserve raised its discount rate — the interest rate at which it lends money to banks. The next morning the S&P futures were pointing lower; everyone was bracing for a weak day — because, as conventional thinking goes, higher interest rates are bad for business, the economy, and ultimately for the stock market. Friday morning, stocks indeed opened lower and major news headlines confirmed: 

  • Wall St opens weaker after Fed move
  • … Investors Wary After Fed Move
  • Stocks Open Lower After Surprise Fed Move

But around 11am that same morning, the DJIA turned around and moved higher. Now look at what the headlines from major sources were saying after lunch on February 19:

  • US stocks bounce back; Fed move viewed in positive light
  • US Stocks Up A Bit On Fed Discount Rate Increase
  • Stocks Higher After Fed Move

What was a "bearish move" by the Fed in the morning morphed into a "bullish" one by the afternoon! Same event. Same market. Same day. Completely opposite interpretation!

This brings to mind the answer EWI’s President Robert Prechter once gave when asked about the objectivity of Elliott wave analysis. Bob said:

"I always ask, ‘compared to what?’ There is no group more subjective than conventional analysts who look at the same ‘fundamental’ news event -- a war, the level of interest rates, the P/E ratio, GDP reports, you name it — and come up with countless opposing conclusions. They generally don’t even bother to study the data. Show me a forecasting method that is totally objective or contains no human interpretation. There is no such thing, even in a black box.

To answer your question more specifically, though, properly there should be no subjectivity in interpreting Elliott waves patterns. There is a set of rules and guidelines for that interpretation. Interpretation gives you only the most probable scenario(s), not a sure one. But people mislabel probabilistic forecasting as subjectivity. And subjectivity or bias can ruin that value, just as in any other approach. Sometimes we screw up. But in contrast to the outrageously improbable (if not downright false) wave interpretations or other types of forecasts we often see from others, we are as close to an objective service as you’re going to find. We hire analysts who know the rules of Elliott cold." 

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Find out what EWers believe really moves markets — download the free 118-page Independent Investor eBook. You might be surprised to discover it’s not the Fed or "surprise" news events that move the market. Learn more, and download your free ebook here.

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In case you missed the earlier EWI article and free offer today, here’s an excerpt and the offer: 

What Chinese Malls Tell Us about the Economic Reality 

The following is an excerpt from the February issue of Global Market Perspective. For a limited time, you can visit Elliott Wave International to download the rest of the 100+ page issue free.

Bullish expectations may not be quite as extreme as they were in 2007, but adjusted for underlying economic conditions, the current psychology probably ranks right up there with the most complacent outlook in history.

The charts of housing, consumer credit and unemployment show the systemically sluggish state of the economy. We know that fundamentals always lag psychological trends, but the lag is generally only a matter of months. It’s been nearly 11 months since the outset of the Primary wave 2 rally; by these critical economic measures the rebound is barely registering. The wide disparity between the hope of investor expectations and the reality of economic strength shows that the great bear market — already ten years old — remains in its early stages. As the next legdown matures, hope will turn to despair, and it will become impossible to ignore the persistence of the economic contraction.  

The same chasm between fundamental performance and stock market expectations is visible in other parts of the world. In China, for instance, ground reports reveal how out-of-whack financial expectations are with street-level demand. A blog called The Peking Duck described Beijing’s “stunningly dysfunctional, catastrophic mall, The Place. Fifty percent of the eateries in the basement were boarded up. The cheap food court, too, was gone, covered up with ugly blue boarding, making the basement especially grim and dreary. There is simply too much stuff, too many stores and no buyers.” The world’s largest mall in southern China is completely empty.

Most investors do not see past the performance of the Shenzhen or Shanghai stock indexes, just as most of the buying and selling of U.S. stock indexes remains detached from the real economy. We see lots of hope but no change in the reality.

Visit Elliott Wave International to download your free 100+ page issue

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Vadim Pokhlebkin joined Robert Prechter’s Elliott Wave International in 1998. A Moscow, Russia, native, Vadim has a Bachelor’s in Business from Bryan College, where he got his first introduction to the ideas of free market and investors’ irrational collective behavior. Vadim’s articles focus on the application of the Wave Principle in real-time market trading, as well as on dispersing investment myths through understanding of what really drives people’s collective investment decisions.


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