W.D. Gann is one of the most famous traders of all time, and has a huge devoted following – however the fact is, Gann never made the huge profits many of his disciples claim.
He did not have a success rate of 90%, as is often claimed – the logic his methods are based upon are unsound, and his predictive methods don’t predict – they leave everything to subjective opinion!
Let’s examine his theories of investment in more detail and see.
Let’s look at some common myths about how great a trader Gann actually was:
Many sources quote Gann’s trading profits at $50 million dollars, however this is not true.
An interview that Alexander Elder had with his son tells the truth.
Firstly, his son confirmed that when his father died in the 1950s his estate was valued at just $100,000 – and that included his house.
Secondly, his son confirmed that Gann was unable to make enough money from trading, and therefore supplemented his income by writing and selling courses.
W.D. Gann’s Predictions
Many sources quote he had a success rate in all his trades of over 90% – again not true. We can easily deduce this from the value of his estate.
If he could make money trading and had a 90% success rate, he would have made hundreds of millions in his trading career – and he clearly did not – that’s why he had to sell books and courses.
The only evidence of a 90% success rate came from a small number of trades – and was not representative of them all.
Gann’s Methods are Predictive
Gann came to the conclusion that all natural phenomena are cyclical – including financial markets. This is true, but this is an obvious statement – we all know we’re going to die but when exactly?
A predictive theory is not a predictive theory if it can’t predict.
If Gann’s theory really is predictive, then there would be no market – as we would all know the price in advance!
Gann’s theory is subjective – and he really had no way of predicting the future with accuracy. It’s all subjective analysis and this is NOT a predictive theory.
The basis of Gann’s theory is the principle that price and time must balance.
His methods are based on the squaring of price with time – this occurs when a unit of price equals a unit of time.
Gann for example would take a prominent high in the market, convert that dollar unit into a specified period of time and project it forward. When that time is reached, price and time are squared – and a market turn is due.
What? – How can one unit of price equal one unit of time? If you think about and answer this question for yourself, you will see how absurd the connection is.
This isn’t the only inconsistency used in his analysis – we also have the legendary Fibonacci numbers which are supposed to work with stunning accuracy – but they don’t, and neither do all sorts of astrology and geometry, that appeals to the far out investment crowd.
As we have seen, Gann was a trader who had modest success, and claimed to have discovered a predictive theory – which predicts nothing with accuracy.
Finally, we have so many subjective indicators cobbled together, that the theory can prove anything in hindsight, but if you want a tool to trade the markets look elsewhere.
For those of you still not convinced – I recently saw on the Internet, Gann’s trading methods selling for under $1,000!
Sounds like a bargain to get trades with 90% accuracy – I wonder how many serious money managers have it on their bookshelf.