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Technical analysis in the foreign exchange market

  • Christopher J. Neely
  • Paul A. Weller

This article introduces the subject of technical analysis in the foreign exchange market, with emphasis on its importance for questions of market efficiency. Technicians view their craft, the study of price patterns, as exploiting traders’ psychological regularities. The literature on technical analysis has established that simple technical trading rules on dollar exchange rates provided 15 years of positive, risk-adjusted returns during the 1970s and 80s before those returns were extinguished. More recently, more complex and less studied rules have produced more modest returns for a similar length of time. Conventional explanations that rely on risk adjustment and/or central bank intervention are not plausible justifications for the observed excess returns from following simple technical trading rules. Psychological biases, however, could contribute to the profitability of these rules. We view the observed pattern of excess returns to technical trading rules as being consistent with an adaptive markets view of the world.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2011-001.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2011-001
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