How to read the price action

Regardless of the school of analysis we belong to, most of us will have few problems with the statement that the price action is all that matters to trading, ultimately, because the only determinant of our profits or losses is the price itself. We may have very sensible, well-thought justifications for our Forex analysis and Forex strategy, but if we cannot confirm them with the price action, the sad fact is that they are worthless.


Technical analysis takes this concept one step further, and claims that all that matters to trading is the price action itself. In other words, traders should disregard news events, statistics and data, along with economic and political developments, and concentrate all their attention on the price itself. This attitude is justified on the basis of the belief that the price action, created by knowledgeable and profit-hungry traders, reflects all the information available to the public at any one time, and it is futile so seek an edge over the market by trying to stay updated on all data. Not only is it impossible, technical analysts contend, but also useless, since the price already incorporates all the available information in itself according to the interpretation of the best and most powerful minds in the market. Technical analysts exhort us to study the markets, and ignore everything else, thus gaining a strong focus on the only piece of information that matters, the price.

Critics of technical analysis counter that while the price does represent the total amount of bulls and bears in the market, it doesn't reflect a consensus, and as such cannot be taken as a speaking the opinion of market participants at large. In other words, there is no such thing as a market opinion. In addition, they add, although in the short term the price action is difficult to predict, in the longer term economic events establish clear trends which can easily be anticipated and exploited through fundamental analysis. Technical analysts defend their school by positing that fundamental analysis is difficult, no more reliable than technical studies, and more time-consuming.

The tools of technical analysis are all applied on the price action as depicted on charts. Indicators are used to evaluate any price pattern to generate buy or sell signals, while price patterns are interpreted to identify the underlying momentum. Technical analysis does not claim to create error-free, concrete answers to questions in traders' minds, but it does offer to identify the scenarios where the potential for a profitable trade is greatest. A technical trader must have a mind adapted and used to dealing with probabilities, and he must be ready to take losses when they are unavoidable as well.

Let's conclude this brief study by noting that in the chaotic environment of the Forex market diligent money management methods, and emotional control are just as important, if not more important than any kind of strategy or analysis. To learn Forex, we need to preserve our capital. And money management is what teaches us how to preserve it. With patience and commitment, it is not hard to succeed in Forex, but without those two, there's no point in entertaining dreams about bathing in pools of gold and silver either.
By Carl Hayes