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The Heretics of Finance

 I've been reading the entertaining and sometimes illuminating The Heretics of Finance by Andrew Lo and Jasmina Hasanhodzic. It's basically a series of interviews of Technical Analysis luminaries such as Ralph Acampora, Bob Prechter, John Murphy, Alan Shaw, Laszlo Birinyi (the self-hating technical analyst) and Linda Bradford Raschke (the only active trader among them).

 
Professor Lo of MIT is the first (and only so far) major academic who's been curious about, then supportive of technical analysis and this book is, in a way, his token of appreciation to the TA community. Most of the discussions address basic TA subjects and controversies. The target audience seems mainly to be people who might be curious about technical analysis but have heard negative things about it ("it's no different than astrology" would be one such negative preconception), so our TA heroes try to debunk the negatives and promote the positives ("if you believe psychology and history play a role in the markets, then you must believe in TA's contribution to the analysis of markets" is how I would paraphrase their response). They don't always succeed though and their contradictory answers to a number of questions may give pause to many an open-minded reader but overall they come across as a passionate, knowledgeable bunch.
 
I enjoyed Elliott Wave guru Bob Prechter's insightful remarks on the role of emotions in trading:
 
"No one assessing or trading markets is unemotional about it. This job is not like building cars. It's like trying to outwit a pack of murderous inmates in an insane asylum. You can't do it calmly because you don't know what they're capable of, and they don't have to use reason."
 
A trader friend of Bob's describes the trading life as: "hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror".