Trend is your friend.” You probably heard of this quote before, a supposedly valiant attempt to describe what most trading systems in use today are based on. But what is the ”Trend” and how can I be his friend? Well, a quick search in google for definition on “Trend” shows that:
A pattern of gradual change in a condition, output, or process, or an average or general tendency of a series of data points to move in a certain direction over time, represented by a line or curve on a graph. – Businessdictionary
Or simply, based on Google’s own dictionary – A Trend is: A general direction in which something is developing or changing…
So in essence, to become friend of the trend, You need to first identify what kind of a trend we are in today, and then follow it… Simple, isn’t it? Well, I wish trading is that simple because everyone looks at trend differently… here is an example:
If you call this a Downtrend and you plan to SELL into the pair, then I guess you could be right… as you are clearly seeing a drop of this pair from the 131.58 level down to the 130.47 (over 100 pips)… However, this is the 15-Minute chart… Let’s move to a higher time-frame… (a 15-minute chart means that every candlestick represents 15 minutes, for more information on Candlesticks, please read my tutorial on Japanese Candlestick)
This is the same currency pair, but looking at the Daily Chart, which means that each candlestick represents a 24-hour trading period… and we can clearly see that since the beginning of February 2012, GBPJPY has gained over 1300 pips at one point… even at the current level, it is still showing a 1100 pips of gain… So shouldn’t we call this an Uptrend?
And of course, this dilemma is not isolated just to the GBPJPY pair, it is pretty much with EVERY CURRENCY pair; if you look at lower time-frames you see one thing and another thing at higher time-frames… How can we identify Mr. Right Trend and be his friend?
Well, here’s a thought, how about we stop looking at charts?
Let me be absolutely clear that I’m not advocating stop using charts or indicators, of course they have their places in trading, quite indispensable if I may add… but they just suck at determining trends… If you think you can predict what will happen next by looking at what happened before, then you are in a world of surprise… What we have is lack of data, similar to the story of blind men and the elephant… (skip down if you know the story – taken from Wikipedia)
…the story says that six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe.
A king explains to them: “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all the features you mentioned.”
So what happens when you ask the King what is an elephant? I think his answer would be along the lines of a gigantic creature with big ears, long nose, huge tusks, walks on 4 legs, among other things… the major differences between the blind men and the king is not only eyesight, but the fact that the king is able to see the true form of what the elephant is… I think if you make each of the six blind man walk around the elephant for an hour and then report back, we’ll get a very different story… but of course, that is beyond the scope of this article…
And that leads us back to the ”Trend” again, and the question: What is its “true form”?
At the risk of sounding too geeky, I think trend is the effect of different driving forces of the market… much like when we see the waves of the ocean and feel the breeze of the wind, that is the end product of the changes of or effects of pressure, density, temperature, dimension, and gravitation forces… Similarly, in order to determine the trend, we need to determine the forces that move the market, which are the “causes” behind the “effect” that is known as the Trend.
Of course, theoretically you can try to calculate every single event that affects the market in order to determine the trend, or you can focus on few important factors that drives the trend… Much like the theory that governs fluid dynamics; and since I’m not a mathematician, here’s an introduction from a professor in Stanford explaining the theory, and if you listen to her closely, you’ll see that not every factor affects the end results, that sometimes it is just not necessary to include those events in your calculation…