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The Dow Theory: William Peter Hamilton's Track Record Re-Considered


  • Stephen J. Brown
  • William N. Goetzmann
  • Alok Kumar


Alfred Cowles' (1934) test of the Dow Theory apparently provided strong evidence against the ability of Wall Street's most famous chartist to forecast the stock market. In this paper we review Cowles' evidence and find that it supports the contrary conclusion - that the Dow Theory, as applied by its major practitioner, William Peter Hamilton over the period 1902 to 1929, yielded positive risk-adjusted returns. A re-analysis of the Hamilton editorials suggests that his timing strategies yield high Sharpe ratios and positive alphas. Neural net modeling to replicate Hamilton's market calls provides interesting insight into the nature and content of the Dow Theory. This allows us to examine the properties of the Dow Theory itself out-of-sample.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen J. Brown & William N. Goetzmann & Alok Kumar, 1998. "The Dow Theory: William Peter Hamilton's Track Record Re-Considered," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 98-013, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:nystfi:98-013

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Scheinkman, Jose A & LeBaron, Blake, 1989. "Nonlinear Dynamics and Stock Returns," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(3), pages 311-337, July.
    2. Neely, Christopher & Weller, Paul & Dittmar, Rob, 1997. "Is Technical Analysis in the Foreign Exchange Market Profitable? A Genetic Programming Approach," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(04), pages 405-426, December.
    3. repec:fth:pennfi:70 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Hsieh, David A, 1991. " Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics: Application to Financial Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(5), pages 1839-1877, December.
    5. Brock, William & Lakonishok, Josef & LeBaron, Blake, 1992. " Simple Technical Trading Rules and the Stochastic Properties of Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(5), pages 1731-1764, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes


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