The Dow Theory
The Dow Theory is a financial theory that was developed by Charles Dow, the founder of the Wall Street Journal, in the late 1800s. This theory is considered to be one of the earliest forms of technical analysis and has been influential in shaping the way investors think about market trends and investment strategies.
At its core, the Dow Theory is based on the idea that the stock market is made up of two primary trends: the primary trend, which can last for months or even years, and the secondary trend, which can last for a few weeks to a few months. The primary trend is the overall direction of the market, while the secondary trend represents smaller fluctuations within that trend.
According to the Dow Theory, these trends can be identified through the use of market indexes, specifically the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA). The theory posits that when both the DJIA and DJTA are moving in the same direction, it is a sign that the primary trend is in place. Conversely, if they are moving in opposite directions, it is a sign that the market is experiencing a correction or reversal.
The Dow Theory also includes the concept of confirmation, which means that a change in one index should be confirmed by a change in the other index. For example, if the DJIA experiences a significant drop, it should be confirmed by a drop in the DJTA to indicate that the primary trend is shifting.
One of the key principles of the Dow Theory is that the market discounts everything, meaning that all available information is already reflected in stock prices. Therefore, the theory suggests that it is not necessary to try to predict future market movements, but rather to identify the current primary trend and invest accordingly.
In practice, the Dow Theory has been used by investors to help identify trends in the market and to develop investment strategies based on those trends. For example, if both the DJIA and DJTA are in an uptrend, it may be a good time to invest in stocks. Conversely, if both indexes are in a downtrend, it may be a sign to sell or avoid stocks.
Despite its age, the Dow Theory remains a popular and influential theory in the world of finance. It has helped shape the way that investors think about market trends and has been a valuable tool for developing investment strategies that can help generate long-term returns.