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The Best And The Brightest Go To Washington

12/23/03 04:08:27 PM PST
by Matt Blackman

Technicians and traders from around the world met in Washington, DC, during the first week of November 2003 to discuss the latest techniques and markets. For those serious about the practice and application of technical analysis, it was an event not to be missed.

Washington, DC, was the place to be for technical analysts and traders on November 6-9, 2003. It was the scene of the 2003 conference put on by the International Federation of Technical Analysts (IFTA), a global organization including more than 10,000 members and affiliates, as well as the world's leading technical experts from 30 countries. Each year, the group holds a convention in a different part of the world where members can meet and renew contacts with other members and hear presentations on the latest developments in markets and in the field of technical analysis. This year, the Market Technicians Association (MTA) hosted the event. (For more on the MTA and IFTA, please see my article,"The Best and Brightest In Technical Analysis.")


One hundred and seventy-five delegates from 23 nations converged to attend more than 20 presentations, meetings, and events. Topics ranging from technical specifics in an excellent presentation by Martin Pring entitled "Market Psychology Expressed In Bar Chart Patterns" to the discussion of more wide-ranging macroeconomic and social issues in a presentation called "Current Budget Deficits: Long-Term Social Obligations and Economic Growth: Similarities Between The US And Other Countries" by Barry Anderson from the International Monetary Fund. As with all conferences, some but not all of the talks were excellent, but they were not the main reason for being there.

After talking to a number of conference delegates, the real reason that novice and veteran members and affiliates alike converge every year seems to be the people. It's a time to reunite with colleagues, make new friends, and in many cases put faces to the names. Without a doubt, the raison d'être for belonging to any of the regional technical and trading associations is the ability to network with others in the industry, including the pioneers and leaders in the field. And conferences are a great place to meet, mix, mingle, and share. This year's event was no exception.


Included in the list of delegates (in alphabetical order) were names like Ralph Acampora, one of the founders of the MTA; Peter Eliades, publisher of Stockmarket Cycles; industry guru Mike Epstein of MIT; Barron's Michael Kahn; Sherman McClellan (creator of the McClellan index); renowned trading analysts Perry Kaufman, John Murphy, and Martin Pring; cycle pioneer Ian Notley; Elliott wave legend Robert Prechter (who also presented and was keynote speaker); market behaviorial expert Hank Pruden; and Phil Roth, one of the first recipients of the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designation and regular guest on CNBC, to name only a few. The list of delegates no doubt included a number of future industry leaders, who will become household words to traders around the globe.

A number of talks were not to be missed:

  • Larry Berman of CIBC World Markets presented "Trading Cycles: Using Market Capitalization To Improve Breadth Analysis" in which he discussed how to use cycles, different time frames, the relative strength index, advance/decline ratio and a number of market internals to enhance investment returns complete with examples.
  • Tim Hayes of Ned Davis Research presented "Systems For Gauging Relative Strength And Their Current Implications for Global Allocation," which provided the nuts and bolts of what to look for in building a global diversification strategy and how to pick consistent international, sector, and industry winners, whether you are a small trader or a fund manager.
  • Peter Eliades' "CI/NCI (Cycle Indicator/Neutral Cycle Indicator) Ratio And The Sign Of The Bear — Will They Signal The Next Turn?" His "sign of the bear" pattern requires at least 21 consecutive days where the advance/decline (A/D) ratio is above 0.65 but below 1.95 every day throughout that span. It then requires the streak to be broken to the downside — that is, an A/D ratio below .65. Finally, the average A/D ratio for either the two- or three-day period after the end of the streak must be below 0.75. When all three conditions are met, the "sign of the bear" signal has been given. This sign has occurred on six occasions since the 1920s: July 22, 1929, December 14, 1961, October 25, 1968, December 12, 1972, April 6, 1998, and September 18, 2000.
  • Jim Rohrbach, publisher of the Investment Models newsletter, discussed the proprietary market-timing indicator he developed in 1974 to successfully trade no-load mutual funds. While he did not reveal the secret to his indicator, he did say that similar results could be enjoyed using two medium-term exponential moving averages. (Here's a hint: "150- or 50-day EMAs are too long.")
  • Robert Prechter presented his ideas on how Fibonacci time and price levels play a large part in Elliott wave projections and gave an entertaining keynote presentation at the welcoming dinner about the history and future of the IFTA and MTA.

One of the most interesting events was the "walkabout" chaired by Ian Notley in which a number of tables were hosted by conference speakers, around which delegates circulated to discuss various technical analysis and market topics. Participants shared their favorite indicators and how they used them, stock picks, favorite charting programs and why, choices of preferred trading websites and data providers, market preferences, and favored equity classes.


At the grand finale black-tie gala dinner, I had the good fortune to sit beside John Murphy. It was interesting to hear him speak about the early days of technical analysis, which included the reluctance of the MTA's CMT committee to accept his paper on intermarket analysis because it was considered too revolutionary for the field at the time.

How times have changed: Murphy has just completed work on the latest edition of Intermarket Analysis, which is essential reading for anyone in the trading and investment industries. In the 2003 level 1 CMT exam, a number of questions tested the student's knowledge on the subject.


Next year, it is back to normal for the MTA, which is holding its annual conference at Marco Island, FL. Meanwhile, the IFTA will hold its 2004 conference in Madrid and has announced that John Bollinger will be one of the featured speakers.

If nothing else, membership will give you the opportunity to meet and learn from those who have helped shape and will continue to play a big part in the world of technical analysis in the future. The 2003 conference made it apparent that there is nothing more powerful for enhancing a trader's development and success than the ability to share cutting-edge ideas with your peers and leaders in the industry.

If membership in any of the international technical analysis associations is the cake, attending annual conferences and meeting old friends and associates as well as making new ones, is certainly the icing.

Matt Blackman is a trader, technical analysis, software reviewer, and content provider for technical trading/investment publications and websites. He is an affiliate member of the Market Technicians Association (MTA) and Canadian Society of Technical Analysts (CSTA), and is currently enrolled in the Chartered Market Technicians (CMT) program. He may be reached at


Blackman, Matt [2003]. "The Best And The Brightest Of Technical Analysis,", September 24.

Bollinger, John [2001]. Bollinger On Bollinger Bands, McGraw-Hill.

Kaufman, Perry [1998]. Trading Systems And Methods, John Wiley & Sons.

Hayes, Tim [2000]. The Research Driven Investors, McGraw-Hill

Murphy, John [1991]. Intermarket Analysis, John Wiley & Sons.

Pring, Martin [2002]. Technical Analysis Explained, McGraw-Hill

  • Elliott Wave International:
  • International Federation of Technical Analysts:
  • Investment Models, Jim Rohrbach's website:
  • Market Technicians Association (MTA):
  • Stockmarket Cycles newsletter, Peter Eliades' website:

Current and past articles from Working Money, The Investors' Magazine, can be found at

Matt Blackman

Matt Blackman is a full-time technical and financial writer and trader. He produces corporate and financial newsletters, and assists clients in getting published in the mainstream media. He tweets about stocks he is watching at Matt has earned the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designation.

E-mail address:

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