Richard Donchian began his Wall Street career in 1930. Donchian began writing a technical market letter in 1933, and continued for many years (lot of biographical info on Donchian here).

I like going back to successful traders from the early part of last century, as their focus is driven by Human Nature — not current events or technological advancement. As such, they manage to uncover timeless truths about our unchanging natures — and how these natures act and react in capital markets.

The following trading guidelines were first published in 1934:

General Guides

1.  Beware of acting immediately on a widespread public opinion. Even if correct, it will usually delay the move.

2. From a period of dullness and inactivity, watch for and prepare to follow a move in the direction in which volume increases.

3.  Limit losses and ride profits, irrespective of all other rules.

4. Light commitments are advisable when market position is not certain. Clearly defined moves are signaled frequently enough to make life interesting and concentration on these moves will prevent unprofitable whip-sawing.

5. Seldom take a position in the direction of an immediately preceding three-day move. Wait for a one-day reversal.

6. Judicious use of stop orders is a valuable aid to profitable trading. Stops may be used to protect profits, to limit losses, and from certain formations such as triangular foci to take positions. Stop orders are apt to be more valuable and less treacherous if used in proper relation the the chart formation.

7. In a market in which upswings are likely to equal or exceed downswings, heavier position should be taken for the upswings for percentage reasons – a decline from 50 to 25 will net only 50% profit, whereas an advance from 25 to 50 will net 100%

8. In taking a position, price orders are allowable. In closing a position, use market orders."

9. Buy strong-acting, strong-background commodities and sell weak ones, subject to all other rules.

10.  Moves in which rails lead or participate strongly are usually more worth following than moves in which rails lag.

11.  A study of the capitalization of a company, the degree of activity of an issue, and whether an issue is a lethargic truck horse or a spirited race horse is fully as important as a study of statistical reports.

Technical Guides

1. A move followed by a sideways range often precedes another move of almost equal extent in the same direction as the original move.  Generally, when the second move from the sideways range has run its course, a counter move approaching the sideways range may be expected.

2.  Reversal or resistance to a move is likely to be encountered:

- 0n reaching levels at which in the past, the commodity has fluctuated for a considerable length of time within a narrow range

- On approaching highs or lows

3.  Watch for good buying or selling opportunities when trend lines are approached, especially on medium or dull volume. Be sure such a line has not been hugged or hit too frequently.

4.  Watch for "crawling along" or repeated bumping of minor or major trend lines and prepare to see such trend lines broken.

5. Breaking of minor trend lines counter to the major trend gives most other important position taking signals. Positions can be taken or reversed on stop at such places.

6.  Triangles of ether slope may mean either accumulation or distribution depending on other considerations although triangles are usually broken on the flat side.

7.  Watch for volume climax, especially after a long move.

8.  Don’t count on gaps being closed unless you can distinguish between breakaway gaps, normal gaps and exhaustion gaps.

9.  During a move, take or increase positions in the direction of the move at the market the morning following any one-day reversal, however slight the reversal may be, especially if volume declines on the reversal.

Great stuff. Astonishing how advisable these 70 year old rules remain today.

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Source:
Donchian’s Trading Guides
Micaeel Covel
Trend Following,May 26, 2005
http://www.michaelcovel.com/archives/000419.html

Richard Donchian
Ed Seykota’s Trading Tribe
1934/2003
http://www.seykota.com/tribe/Resources/Donchian/index.htm

Richard Donchian – Market Master
N.A. & C.J. Costa, Market Masters
2003
http://www.marketmasters.com.au/85.0.html

Category: Trading

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3 Responses to “Donchian’s 20 Trading Guides”

  1. Leisa says:

    Reading this reminded me of a terrific column in financial sense aobut the incongruence between the Dow Industrials and transports. You can view it here.
    http://financialsense.com/Market/wrapup.htm

  2. Leisa says:

    Barry–I took a look back at some of your references. At Market Masters, I note the following: When Donchian (nice Armenian name!) reviewed his rules in 1974, he emphasized the following:

    Under General: 1-5
    Under Technical: 1, 4-5, 9

  3. Gordon Haave says:

    “Micaeel” Covel?