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7.5 Learning the Basics

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  • 7.5 The Basics

Learning the Basics

With a knowledge of the tools in Lessons 1 through 15, any dedicated student can perform expert Elliott Wave analysis. People who neglect to study the subject thoroughly or to apply the tools rigorously have given up before really trying. The best learning procedure is to keep an hourly chart and try to fit all the wiggles into Elliott Wave patterns, while keeping an open mind for all the possibilities. Slowly the scales should drop from your eyes, and you will continually be amazed at what you see.

It is important to remember that while investment tactics always must go with the most valid wave count, knowledge of alternative possibilities can be extremely helpful in adjusting to unexpected events, putting them immediately into perspective, and adapting to the changing market framework. While the rigidities of the rules of wave formation are of great value in choosing entry and exit points, the flexibilities in the admissible patterns eliminate cries that whatever the market is doing now is “impossible.”

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Thus eloquently spoke Sherlock Holmes to his constant companion, Dr. Watson, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four. This one sentence is a capsule summary of what one needs to know to be successful with Elliott. The best approach is deductive reasoning. By knowing what Elliott rules will not allow, one can deduce that whatever remains must be the most likely course for the market. Applying all the rules of extensions, alternation, overlapping, channeling, volume and the rest, the analyst has a much more formidable arsenal than one might imagine at first glance. Unfortunately for many, the approach requires thought and work and rarely provides a mechanical signal. However, this kind of thinking, basically an elimination process, squeezes the best out of what Elliott has to offer and besides, it’s fun!

As an example of such deductive reasoning, take another look at Figure 1-14, reproduced below:


Figure 1-14

Cover up the price action from November 17, 1976 forward. Without the wave labels and boundary lines, the market would appear as formless. But with the Wave Principle as a guide, the meaning of the structures becomes clear. Now ask yourself, how would you go about predicting the next movement? Here is Robert Prechter’s analysis from that date, from a personal letter to A.J. Frost, summarizing a report he issued for Merrill Lynch the previous day:

Enclosed you will find my current opinion outlined on a recent Trendline chart, although I use only hourly point charts to arrive at these conclusions. My argument is that the third Primary wave, begun in October of 1975, has not completed its course as yet, and that the fifth Intermediate wave of that Primary is now underway. First and most important, I am convinced that October 1975 to March 1976 was so far a three-wave affair, not a five, and that only the possibility of a failure on May 11th could complete that wave as a five. However, the construction following that possible “failure” does not satisfy me as correct, since the first downleg to 956.45 would be of five waves and the entire ensuing construction is obviously a flat. Therefore, I think that we have been in a fourth corrective wave since March 24th. This corrective wave satisfies completely the requirements for an expanding triangle formation, which of course can only be a fourth wave. The trendlines concerned are uncannily accurate, as is the downside objective, obtained by multiplying the first important length of decline (March 24th to June 7th, 55.51 points) by 1.618 to obtain 89.82 points. 89.82 points from the orthodox high of the third Intermediate wave at 1011.96 gives a downside target of 922, which was hit last week (actual hourly low 920.62) on November 11th. This would suggest now a fifth Intermediate back to new highs, completing the third Primary wave. The only problem I can see with this interpretation is that Elliott suggests that fourth wave declines usually hold above the previous fourth wave decline of lesser degree, in this case 950.57 on February 17th, which of course has been broken on the downside. I have found, however, that this rule is not steadfast. The reverse symmetrical triangle formation should be followed by a rally only approximating the width of the widest part of the triangle. Such a rally would suggest 1020-1030 and fall far short of the trendline target of 1090-1100. Also, within third waves, the first and fifth subwaves tend toward equality in time and magnitude. Since the first wave (Oct. 75-Dec.75) was a 10% move in two months, this fifth should cover about 100 points (1020-1030) and peak in January 1977, again short of the trendline mark.

Now uncover the rest of the chart to see how all these guidelines helped in assessing the market’s likely path.

Christopher Morley once said, “Dancing is a wonderful training for girls. It is the first way they learn to guess what a man is going to do before he does it.” In the same way, the Wave Principle trains the analyst to discern what the market is likely to do before it does it.

After you have acquired an Elliott “touch,” it will be forever with you, just as a child who learns to ride a bicycle never forgets. At that point, catching a turn becomes a fairly common experience and not really too difficult. Most important, in giving you a feeling of confidence as to where you are in the progress of the market, a knowledge of Elliott can prepare you psychologically for the inevitable fluctuating nature of price movement and free you from sharing the widely practiced analytical error of forever projecting today’s trends linearly into the future