Book Review: 2008's 'Trading ETFs'

by: Scott's Investments

Deron Wagner's 2008 Trading ETFs: Gaining an Edge With Technical Analysis is a comprehensive guide for using technical analysis in ETF trading. The book's sole focus is on technical analysis and ETFs; however, most of the principals in the book can be applied to any trading vehicle.

Wagner is the founder and head portfolio manager of Morpheus Capital and Morpheus Trading Group. Trading ETFs is well-organized into four parts. The first part of the book and sections of part 2 could be redundant for intermediate to advanced investors and traders. In the first parts of the book, Wagner provides a summary of ETF families and lays out the basics of identifying relative strength among indexes. His strategy of first finding indexes with the most relative strength and then identifying ETFs within the index may add an extra step in the screening process. In many cases, simply identfiying ETFs with relative strength (as opposed to first screening for indexes) is going to yield similar results.

By the end of part 2, Wagner presents multiple facets of technical analysis, including using multiple time frames for confirmation, which is an excellent strategy he emphasizes throughout the book. He also discusses consolidations, head-and-shoulders patterns, moving averages, and fibonacci retracements. The material is presented in an easy to understand manner.

The most content-rich section of the book is part 3, which discusses strategies for entry and exits. Wagner discusses both strategies for long entry, short selling, and strategies for exiting both types of trades. He provides 20 examples of winning and losing trades and walks the reader through his thought process in each trade. This type of "watch me trade" commentary provides value to beginning and advanced traders. His time frame for most trades is several days to several weeks. However, a trader could easily apply his technical approach in shorter (or longer) time frames.

Part 4 of the book discusses "tailoring" your trading approach. The most interesting topic of part 4 is position sizing, and Wagner provides his exact methodology for calculating position size. Position size is often overlooked by beginning traders as an essential component to long-term success.

Trading ETFs: Gaining an Edge With Technical Analysis details Wagner's comprehensive approach to technical analysis. Parts 2, 3 and 4 do not detail technical analysis principals exclusive to just ETFs. Wagner's approach can be applied to stocks and other trading vehicle which provides additional value to the reader interested in becoming a successful long-term trader.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.