Forex Robots and Trading Signal Software: Who has the Holy Grail?

We do not know what use was made of the Holy Grail, if it had ever existed. Nowadays, perhaps some forex robots and trading signal software hold the key!  However, if the Knights of the Round Table derived any advantage from any association with that legendary item, history doesn’t provide a lot of details on the nature of the benefits. It seems the bards and the poets of the Medieval era were the greatest beneficiaries of the Grail legend, selling their tales at the courts and ensuring a full stomach in the process, if not more. The tradition is alive even today, with “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, the “Da Vinci Code” all reaping their share of the profits from the propagation of this ancient, dubious, yet highly entertaining legend.

The currency trading field has its own share of these bards and poets, each telling the same story from a different angle, embellishing it with new and exciting details on the unimaginable benefits, the unparalleled gains that one can achieve once he is in possession of the Holy Grail, the Forex Code, the Universal Secret of Trading, the Best Automated System in History. Times change however, and the blood of Christ no longer has the same powerful impact on the minds of believers as it had in the past. Nowadays, the scientifically minded, but gullible individual will seek the Holy Grail in some kind of mathematical formula, a numerical trick, some technical tool that will reveal the secrets of profitable trading to the entire universe.

Forex Robots

What is a forex robot? This is a kind of program developed by some high-school educated individual, which purports to be able to eliminate the human factor from trading entirely. Since programs, API’s, do not respond emotionally to market developments, we’re told that they possess a clear advantage over the human trader who is constrained by his natural disposition to shout, weep, laugh at sharp turns in the market. In this era of automation, the proponents of automated trading propose that we are fools to draw charts manually and to analyze every twist and turn of the market with eyes glued to the screen, especially when the computer can be programmed to do all these in our place and to do so with an efficiency that is impossible to match for a human being. Since everyone emphasizes the importance of discipline during trading decisions, of the crucial role of solid rules which are followed with punctuality and consistency, the creators of these programs submit that there is no better choice than leaving all the practical aspects of this task to an automated program.

In order to establish the validity of their claims and to demonstrate the purported prowess of the robot, the sellers of these curiosities will couple their sales letters with a large record of back testing data that shows the irrefutable power of automated trading – in hindsight. Very large profits with little drawdown, consistent gains over many trades all convince inexperienced traders that the Holy Grail is within reach finally. If only it were possible that Percival and Lady Guinevere were here, how merry everyone would be! But we will have to contend ourselves with the tremendous profits we’ll make while utilizing our new robot, which we bought for about $500.

But will we really make those great profits or are we just helping to fill the stomach of the bard for the entertainment value? What does a forex robot or an automated trading program really do? It must first establish some rules for the trade which will be in the form of some technical indicators or price patterns as evaluated by the computer. Then it must apply these rules for profiting from market events, as signals are generated throughout the trading day, and into the future. What does the back testing prove? If the rules were applied in the past, the program would have registered profits. What must the program do? It must make profits for us in the future because historical profits may make us smile, but they will not add a penny in our pockets – unless we’re selling a forex robot.

Now, if the program established potential success in the past, why can’t we expect the same results to be repeated in the future? Since the charts look very similar on the whole, why can’t we expect those back testing results to be transformed to future profits? There’s this little disclaimer at the bottom of every legitimate forex broker’s webpage, which states that past performance does not guarantee future results. What does that mean? It means that financial markets are chaotic processes in which the prevailing rules change all the time according to dynamics which are not well understood as yet. In other words, the technical rules that are valid today will not be valid tomorrow. The technical methods that generate profits today will not do so in the future, because the mathematical processes that define the price action change all the time. Most definitely, there’s no single mathematical process or formula that can be applied to generate consistent profits in the market. All that the back testing results prove is that at some point in the past, there were technical methods the use of which could be profitable for the trader. But we want to know what the successful technical method will be tomorrow, not two days ago, as we don’t own a time machine that will deliver us back in time to trade the markets with the hindsight we possess.

And if you have any difficulty in accepting the above statement, consider your own experiences in the forex market: How many times have you seen that a technical indicator, a trading strategy, a combination of technical tools that worked five minutes ago, is unsuccessful just a short while later? Now wouldn’t you laugh at yourself if you had taken the combination that had worked five minutes ago and declared it to be a universally valid tool for all time? We know for sure that regardless of how successful our technical configuration was five minutes ago, it will fail regularly in the future because of the random nature of price movements.

But some will contradict us and say:

“The back testing results are used to choose the trading systems that were consistently successful over a much longer time than five minutes. You’re simplifying the methods and tools of the creators of these systems grossly, and putting yourself in a ridiculous situation by the simplicity of your argument.”

To that we will respond by reminding the traders of the fractal nature of the price graphics. In other words, the price action has a strange tendency to repeat itself with very subtle changes over a long period of time. The patterns observed in a five-minute chart can still be identified in a five-year chart. The randomness, unpredictability of the price formations are no different on five-year long charts than they are on five minute charts and the length of the back testing period is of very little consequence as a result. If a trading robot can be shown to trade successfully on five minute charts only on a consistent basis, that would be a powerful hint of its eventual applicability to many more time frames too. There has never been such a forex robot and if there will be one in the future, it will definitely use very different methods for trading the markets.

Automated Forex Trading Software Overview

 

Trading Signal Software

Trading signal software are similar to the forex robots that we discussed above, but instead of automatically executing the trades on our behalf they will create signals and alerts on the basis of which the trader can make his own trading decisions. In other words, these tools will do the analysis for you and then it is up to you to evaluate the price pattern. How useful are they?

The problem with this type of automation is similar to that with the forex robots but it is a somewhat milder version. Signals generated in deference to some arbitrary rules are unlikely to have much credibility in the complex and constantly changing trading environment. Indeed, it is not hard to generate signals in any market: Just combine and rearrange the indicators a number of times and there will always be some that suggest a potential trade. The difference between a valid trading signal and an invalid one is only clear in hindsight. Identifying such opportunities requires a flexible analytical attitude that can balance and weigh the various inputs from many sources according to the nature of the market, the time period and the market psychology. None of that can be recognized or evaluated by a machine that will churn out the same results based on the same unchanging algorithm all the time.

Let us recall that one of the most important aspects of a successful trading strategy is the ability to adapt to changes. The trading signal software is incapable of doing so because it is supplied with a predefined set of rules the basic mechanism of which remains the same. Instead of wasting his time on deciding which of the signals issued by the various systems at his disposal is correct, the trader can study to refine his understanding of the markets and do his own job for himself which will be far more rewarding than the random gains or losses registered by the use of these products.

 

Conclusion

If all those tools were generating the profits their creators claim, it would be illogical to sell them in the first place. After all, traders have been trying to beat the markets for generations; one would not even need to trade if he were able to solve this great problem so efficiently. Such a person would be an instant celebrity, invited to meetings and panels all around the world by large financial firms and universities. Just the fees charged for a public speech would be equal to hundreds of copies of the trading software sold online, and the creator of the method would live the rest of his life comfortably without having to do much.

If these forex robots and related tools are so successful, why would the creator waste his time marketing it to retail investors through online advertisements? It would be easier and far more lucrative to sell the product to richer clients, such as banks and hedge funds, who would be able to pay far greater sums for a truly successful secret trading tool. Unfortunately for the robot inventors, those large institutions would not even turn the cover page of the sales letter advertising the product, sending it quickly to the trash bin.

In sum, even a medieval warrior with all his superstitions and misconceptions about the nature of the universe and the causes of every day events, would be unlikely to believe the offers of a street peddler offering to sell the Holy Grail for one or two gold pieces. While many did believe in the existence of such an item, the Epic Cycles of the Middle Ages emphasized the necessity of a good character, virtuous practices and a decent life for its attainment. As real artists, unlike the amateurish con-artists of today, the bards were able to inspire people in the correct direction, although the fundaments of their beliefs were not very meaningful. Instead, the creators of these automated forex holy grails invite traders to close their eyes and pay them, and then to use these tools while remaining ignorant about how they work, or what they do.

If there is a real Holy Grail in trading, it is certain that it cannot be attained by throwing away $500 to some random, talkative online peddler. In fact, the ancient principles are still valid: Control your emotions, study the markets, learn about the fundamentals that drive economic events, refine your character to suit the demands of a trading career and all will be well for you. We cannot guarantee that you’ll acquire the Holy Grail somehow, but we can assure you that the benefits that you’ll derive from obtaining the correct attitude will be hundreds of times more useful to you than any kind of snake oil product bought online.

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