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Bollinger on Bollinger Bands [Secure eReader]
eBook by John Bollinger

eBook Category: Personal Finance
eBook Description: "John Bollinger is a giant in today's trading community. His Bollinger Bands sharpen the sensitivity of fixed indicators, allowing them to more precisely reflect a market's volatility. By more accurately indicating the existing market environment, they are seen by many as today's standard--and most reliable--tool for plotting expected price action. Now, in Bollinger on Bollinger Bands, Bollinger himself explains how to use this extraordinary technique to compare price and indicator action and make sound, sensible, and profitable trading decisions. Concise, straightforward, and filled with instructive charts and graphs, this remarkable book will be essential reading for all serious traders, regardless of market. Bollinger includes his simple system for implementation, and techniques for combining bands and indicators."

eBook Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2002


In June of 1984 I first walked through the door of 2525 Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica, California. It was the home of the Financial News Network, the nation's first television network dedicated solely to the coverage of economic, market, and business news. FNN's headquarters was an ungodly place, a ramshackle box of a two-story building. It was singularly unimpressive. Square, somewhat dilapidated, and cramped, it housed scores of employees who were charged with putting on 12 hours of business news every day, for little money and for virtually no viewers. Such was the environment I encountered exactly 17 years ago.

I took an entry-level job at FNN because neither Mr. Spielberg nor Mr. Lucas recognized my budding talent as a filmmaker. Not that they knew I existed, but while I was convinced of my potential as a world-class auteur, no one else seemed to notice my graduation from film school. Only an old friend from high school offered me gainful employment, and it was in an area of the media with which I was thoroughly unfamiliar. For me FNN was a temporary resting place, a ground-floor opportunity that would pay the bills while I peddled my scripts for mainstream TV shows and feature films that would one day soon make me rich and famous.

So I began my job at FNN with some reservation. While it represented a learning experience that could help me hone my media skills, the content was frighteningly dull, or at least I thought at the time. There were many numbers (which I did not have the head for), a lot of jargon, and there were many items I had simply never heard of... wool futures and palm oil markets immediately leap to mind. But the people in the newsroom of FNN were interested in all of it, which intrigued me greatly. What was it about this seemingly meaningless stuff that had an entire room full of people so fully engaged? Why were they looking at charts and graphs? What, on earth, were they talking about day in and day out? I began to get curious.

Before I expand on my growing curiosity, let me describe the working environment at Financial News Network. There were three main rooms on the first floor of the boxlike building. The newsroom, such as it was, was a 30 by 50 square with a ring of desks around the inside, outfitted with the requisite IBM Selectrics, boxes of script-sets for typing news stories and the stereotypical overflowing wastepaper baskets underneath. The writers and producers were generally quite young, in their 20s and early 30s. The senior producers were mostly older men, who had spent many years in the news business... a collection of hardboiled types from print and broadcast journalists who tried, many times in vain, to give shape to this emerging brand of news reporting that had never been attempted before.

Two rooms attached to the main newsroom. One was for the associate producers and segment producers who put together the taped pieces that filled out the day's newscasts. Still another room housed some of FNN's on-air specialists, of whom John Bollinger was one. John, along with the late Ed Hart, provided much of FNN's commentary about the day's market events. Ed Hart was a grizzled veteran of business news. While working for FNN, Ed also delivered daily business reports for KFWB, a Los Angeles -- area all-news radio station that battled to compete with its bigger local rival, KNX.

Ed was a curmudgeon's curmudgeon. A salty character with a taste for dirty jokes, Ed was, and shall ever remain, the best business journalist I have worked with. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of economic and market history. He had a frightening photographic memory and a rapier wit. He suffered no fools and never felt shy about identifying your intellectual shortcomings. But, he had a great heart and loved nothing more than business news, except sailing and dancing.

On one particularly busy news day, our then-managing editor walked into the newsroom while the entire staff was on deadline and asked for help with a word game with which he was struggling. Everyone else was struggling with getting a show on the air, but our fearless leader failed to notice, preoccupied with the weighty matter of completing the "jumble" or some such thing. He asked out loud if anyone knew the definition of "jejune." Only Ed Hart bothered to reply. "It's the month before Ju-July," Ed snapped, and walked away. Ed had more important things on his mind most often, and they frequently centered on being accurate, timely, and insightful. He was all of the above. He was early with his market calls, always right, and his information was delivered in a highbrow manner that will likely never be duplicated again.

FNN's other specialist sat virtually isolated in a room off to the side of the newsroom. That was John Bollinger. He was FNN's resident market technician. It was John's job to pour over charts and graphs, looking for repetitive patterns in market action and explain to FNN's audience that by identifying past patterns one could make intelligent bets on the future of the market. Stock quote machines, some primitive computers, and reams of paper surrounded John. Not to mention, all kinds of books on technical analysis, the titles of which I did not recognize at the time. Bollinger, as we called him, was a cantankerous sort of fellow, opinionated and outspoken when it came to the markets. He had quite an interesting background, which drew me to him immediately. He spent years as a cameraman, including a stint at the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes. We were somewhat simpatico, since we shared a love of film and an interest in great storytelling. But I was a bit stumped why someone who had had a great job in mainstream TV would give it up to stare at squiggles on a page that presumably meant something to someone. I didn't quite get it, but as I said before, I began to get curious.

When I first arrived at FNN, I understood nothing about economics, markets, or business. But as I lingered there for a number of months, still waiting for my big box office break, I was increasingly drawn to the people and the content that defined FNN. Bill Griffeth and Sue Herera (then McMahon) were in the process of inventing business television, as we know it today. Ed Hart, John Bollinger, and a senior producer, one Doug Crichton, would hold fascinating conversations about current events, business, markets, and economics that I did not pretend to understand. But they hooked me on the content. I became a business news junkie and it's an addiction that lasts to this day.

John Bollinger is one of the people who really hooked me at FNN. His enthusiasm for the subject matter was contagious. His passion for learning more and more about markets and their history was inspiring. And his attention to detail raised the performance bar for the rest of us who were constantly struggling to keep up with his insatiable appetite for information. As John grew in his knowledge of the markets, his insights became increasingly useful to those around him. We were all impressed by the speed with which he assimilated market messages and explained their meaning to our audience.

It became increasingly clear to those of us who worked with John that he would one day make important contributions to the field of technical analysis. What once was really a Wall Street backwater had grown into a very respectable form of market analysis. Great technicians like Joe Granville, Robert Farrell, Edson Gould, Robert Prechter, and, of course, Charles Dow invented forms of market analysis that survive to this day. Indeed, all of Wall Street's major brokerage houses, money management firms, and big hedge funds employ technical analysts. All investors look constantly for an edge. Technical analysis is one of the tools that can provide that edge which means the difference between profit and loss.

As I said, many of John's colleagues believed it was only a matter of time before John joined the ranks of important analysts who would change the way technical analysis was conducted and considered. And, indeed, he has.

Bollinger on Bollinger Bands is a must read for all students of the markets. It explains and expounds on an important contribution to technical analysis that John made while we were working together at the Financial News Network. When John first invented Bollinger Bands, I didn't understand the significance of his work. As I stated, it took me many years to understand fully the subject I was covering, and John's work, at the time, was as arcane as any I had encountered. (Gladly that is no longer so, lest some of you worry that I am still unfamiliar with technical analysis.)

But like many great discoveries, Bollinger Bands are elegant in their simplicity. They define the parameters that accompany market gyrations. They set the boundaries for expectations, and they allow traders to understand the degree and speed with which markets can move. Bollinger Bands bend, yet they are made to be broken. It is when they are broken that they contain some of the most important information an investor could want. They are mathematical in their construction but, in pictures, they paint a thousand words that are invaluable for investors.

In short, Bollinger Bands are a technical tool which all investors, traders, and money managers should understand and utilize. And they are only one of several contributions to market analysis that their namesake has made and for which he will be remembered well.

June 2001

Copyright © 2002 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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