Monday, 25 February 2019

Fundamental versus technical analysis

Fundamental analysis works. Technical analysis doesn't.

People make money by examining corporate accounts and having a view on future demand, then buying companies and commodities they think are undervalued. No one can consistently make money if all they know are historical market prices, and no one has gotten really rich doing so. You can get somewhat rich by luck, but the richest traders are nowhere near as rich as Warren Buffett.

(The momentum strategy does appear to work, but its risk-weighted returns is not as good as fundamental analysis, and I believe it conceals hidden risks. It cannot work in the long run, which is to say, it does not work. The occasional losses must wipe out all the gains.)

But how do we value something if we believe it is in a bubble? There is no way to do so, and fundamental investors will stay out. Bubble traders (relying on more than just technical analysis) can try to ride the bubble, though they also are the bubble and can get burned.

The problem for fundamental analysts is when the stock market as a whole is in a bubble. And this is almost always the case! The stock market exhibits bubbleicity. Commodities like oil exhibit bubbleicity. In addition to big bubbles, there are small, constant bubbles. Passive investors reinvest their dividends and to a certain extent just bid up prices. These small bubbles don't have to pop! Passive investors sell their investments when they retire, but these are bought by new investors, potentially sustaining the bubble indefinitely. It's just the same as with gold: old people sell gold to young people, and the bubble stays inflated. The gold price can stay high permanently.

A fundamental analyst cannot just short the stock market if he thinks the whole thing is overvalued, because it can stay overvalued indefinitely and he will lose. And what else can he do with his money?

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