Staff Reports

Head and Shoulders: Not Just a Flaky Pattern

August 1995Number 4
JEL classification: F31, G12, G14

Authors: C.L. Osler and P.H. Kevin Chang

This paper evaluates rigorously the predictive power of the head-and-shoulders pattern as applied to daily exchange rates. Though such visual, nonlinear chart patterns are applied frequently by technical analysts, our paper is one of the first to evaluate the predictive power of such patterns. We apply a trading rule based on the head-and-shoulders pattern to daily exchange rates of major currencies versus the dollar during the floating rate period (from March 1973 to June 1994). We identify head-and-shoulders patterns using an objective, computer-implemented algorithm based on criteria in published technical analysis manuals. The resulting profits, replicable in real-time, are then compared with the distribution of profits for 10,000 simulated series generated with the bootstrap technique under the null hypothesis of a random walk.

Available only in PDFPDF 67 pages / 3,785 kb

For a published version of this report, see Kevin P.H. Chang and Carol Osler, "Methodical Madness: Technical Analysis and the Irrationality of Exchange-Rate Forecasts," Economic Journal 109, no. 458 (October 1999): 636-61.