Blowin' in the Wind: The Art of Stock Market Forecasting

April 8, 2009

In the April 6, 2009, BrokeAndBroker.com Blog, I sort of blew a gasket when reading all the dire market commentary predicting the death and destruction of the recent rally (albeit, a modest one when compared to the depth to which we had fallen). As I noted in that prior blog:

Nonetheless, we just came off a 30-day market run of two periods of four "up" days in a row and an offsetting run of no more than two "down" days in a row. Again, I'm not trying to divine anything from that data -- look at the chart and conclude what you will. 

Could the market go down four hundred or four thousand days in a row from here? Of course, and, in fact, as I write this Blog, we're down over 100 points on this rainy, crappy, Monday, April 6, 2009. I'm not predicting anything. Just looking over the stats. Just remembering that all the pros got everything wrong and now those same savants are trying to figure out if today is the resumption of a down-trend or a pause on the way back up. Seriously, I don't have the answer--so don't look to me for any brilliance. 

All that I was arguing was the numbers.  The market had not gone down more than two days in a row since March 4th and, well, charts are charts, techies are techies, and, you know, one swallow does not a spring make and one (or two) lousy Down days does not a trend make -- or destroy one.

In the testy, sarcastic patter that has become all my own, I tried to let you know how I felt about those who were once again screaming that the sky was falling (even if they were not among those screamers a couple of years ago when the damn ceiling did fall in, and the clouds and stars upon it). I have little patience with so many high-profile market forecasters who merely wet their finger and place that digit into the air --- voila! This is the direction of the blowing wind. What genius...or not.  In the race to attract media coverage, more than a few wannabe market pundits have figured out that yelling FIRE!!! is of more publicity value than quietly calling 911. 

And so, on April 6th, before the market's close, my blog included these additional biting shots:

Okay, so it's now crystal clear. Sell, sell, sell. This rally is a head fake. It won't last. It will fizzle. It will peter out.

So, you tell me, are we now embarking upon another swan dive into the abyss or will we maintain the nearly month-old pattern of no more than two Down-days in a row? I know that there will eventually be three or more Down-days in a row -- I'm only looking at a pattern not a guarantee.  And, yeah, if we break that two-day pattern it may indeed signal the end of life as we know it.  On the other hand, hmmmm...what if we actually close up today? My -- that would mean, what? That the month-old rally may still have legs? That the recent panic may be moderating?

Perhaps next week we will see news stories from prognosticators warning us that it's too late to get on the Bull, that the market is entering a new phase of hyper-growth, that stocks are the new investment for savvy millionaires. And then, I'll have to draw up another chart, and pull out my lexicon of snotty asides, and rip into the same idiots who have now done a 180° with the same faux conviction as the last turn.

For now, it's Wednesday, April 8, 2009, and I have no idea whether we're going to create a trend-busting three-Down-days in a row pattern or if we're going to maintain the recent run of no more than two-Down-days in a row.  Frankly, either way today, down or up,  doesn't herald much of anything -- but, it's fun to pretend that such divining of signs is a sophisticated art for the truly gifted.

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DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE
Date Close Up/Down From
Prior Close
8-Apr-09 ???????? ??????
7-Apr-09 7,789.56 DOWN
6-Apr-09 7,975.85 DOWN
3-Apr-09 8,017.59 UP
2-Apr-09 7,978.08 UP
1-Apr-09 7,761.60 UP
31-Mar-09 7,608.92 UP
30-Mar-09 7,522.02 DOWN
27-Mar-09 7,776.18 DOWN
26-Mar-09 7,924.56 UP
25-Mar-09 7,749.81 UP
24-Mar-09 7,660.21 DOWN
23-Mar-09 7,775.86 UP
20-Mar-09 7,278.38 DOWN
19-Mar-09 7,400.80 DOWN
18-Mar-09 7,486.58 UP
17-Mar-09 7,395.70 UP
16-Mar-09 7,216.97 DOWN
13-Mar-09 7,223.98 UP
12-Mar-09 7,170.06 UP
11-Mar-09 6,930.40 UP
10-Mar-09 6,926.49 UP
9-Mar-09 6,547.05 DOWN
6-Mar-09 6,626.94 UP
5-Mar-09 6,594.44 DOWN
4-Mar-09 6,875.84 UP

4:30 PM Postscript:

It was nip and tuck there for a while but, geez, at the end we roared back and closed UP.  How did I manage on Monday to predict this Wednesday Up-day? Well, I could dazzle you with statistics and Fibonacci and all sorts of other arcana, but let's just say that there is, at times, some order in the Universe and some consistency in the fabric of Wall Street. 

Three days ago I wondered aloud (okay, in print -- but at least I put it out there as a exercise in potential self immolation) if the current market trend (about 30-days' vintage) of no more than two consecutive Down-days would continue.  And, okay, you're right -- I didn't actually predict anything; pointedly, I was chagrined.  I raised doubt as to whether we were beginning another roll off the cliff and into a death spiral.  If you read Monday's press, that's what many were suggesting faced us this week and beyond.

Okay, first I'll go find a chest and then you can find a medal to pin it on. 

DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE
Date Close Up/Down From
Prior Close
8-Apr-09 7,837.11 UP
7-Apr-09 7,789.56 DOWN
6-Apr-09 7,975.85 DOWN
3-Apr-09 8,017.59 UP
2-Apr-09 7,978.08 UP
1-Apr-09 7,761.60 UP
31-Mar-09 7,608.92 UP