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What is a Head & Shoulders Pattern?

In this installment of our technical patterns education series, we will explore what is known as a "Head and Shoulders" pattern. This pattern can signal a shift in trend whether at the top of a price discovery trend or at the bottom (when it is referred to as an "inverse head and shoulders bottom" pattern).

As the name suggests, a head and shoulder pattern comprises of left shoulder that corrects only to move higher to form the "head" typically the highest price point in the prevailing price trend (or the lowest price point in the case of an "inverted head and shoulder bottom pattern" after which it will correct while only to rally again but not as high as the previous "head". This point marks a trend reversal, down in the case of a traditional head and shoulder pattern and up in the case of an inverted head and shoulders bottom pattern.

The chart to the left provides a classic example of a head and shoulders pattern whereas the chart below of Cisco in 2000-2001 shows how these can play out in real markets.

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A Window into Institutional Adoption of Digital Currencies

Institutional adoption of digital currencies and payment methods is on the rise. We are seeing a tectonic shift in the payments landscape along with the rise of Bitcoin. However, behind Bitcoin, blockchain companies and projects are looking to reinvent the way individuals and entire industries transact across the entire global industrial landscape.

One of the the core concepts behind blockchain is "trustless" transactions which essentially means transactions between two parties that are controlled by a piece of computer code "A smart contract" that is programmed to embody the transactional details and execute automatically. Essentially any "exchange" of property or digital property can be programmed accordingly removing the need or reliance on centralized parties or intermediaries to broker an exchange for fees. The movement to decentralised finance for example aims to remove "banks" and "brokers" as intermediaries allowing what is known as "peer" to "peer" transactions. Individual A can buy a stock or any asset directly from Individual B in a secure and trustless manner or Individuals can send monies "peer to peer" directly to one another without a bank as an intermediary.

Every transaction on the blockchain is recorded in a tamper proof ledger. No one can go back in time and modify the ledger which makes blockchain one of the most secure and transparent technologies in history to date.

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The Import of Volume - Technical Indicator Series

Volume is a measure of how much stock or how many contracts (if options) or barrels (if oil) are traded in a given day, week, month or quarter. Changes in volume traded can signal a change in price trend and relative strength either up or down. A marked shift in average daily volume alongside an increasing or decreasing price trend is a signal that should be carefully assessed as part of any trading strategy whether short, mid or long term.

Some volume trends worth noting include:-

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RSI Technical Indicator

RSI otherwise known as the Relative Strength Index is a measure of strength or momentum in the price action of a stock, commodity, ETF or other tradeable instrument. It measures the magnitude of price action strength on a relative scale and is displayed as an oscillator with a measurement parameter between 0 and 100. The top range e.g. 70-100 typically indicates relatively overbought conditions whereas the bottom range 0-30 can indicate oversold conditions within a given or chosen timeframe. The longer the timeframe over which this is measured the stronger the signal as a function of trend.

Investors and traders will use this signal to gauge - over different timeframes - from days to years, potential buy and sell decisions or portfolio rebalancing decisions. As with all technical signals they should be used in concert with other technical signals to confirm the probability or weighting of that signal's validity. Technical analysis can provide probability weightings for buy sell decisions providing a statistical bell curve that will indicate how often a signal or combination of signals in a given market, under various economic conditions and different timeframes is accurate with respect to signalling a change in trend.

As you can see on the diagram in the left, the yellow circles show corresponding lows and highs in the weekly stock price of SESN as well as a corresponding RSI indicator below 30 and above 70. RSI indicators can show multiple signals above 70 or below 30 so the first time the line crosses over these values does not necessarily mean a low or high has been reached which is why it is best to use technical analysis in combination with a range of different signals to get a higher probability signal or confirmation of whether a shift in price trend - up or down - is pending.

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The Case for Negative Interest Rates - Rationale, Risks and Origins

Why on earth would a bank charge negative interest rates? It's so " upside down" and counter-intutive we thought it would be a good idea to cover the topic in this weeks blog post.

During times of economic uncertainty central banks lacking in policy alternatives to stimulate the economy have turned to unconventional policies such as negative interest rates to stimulate the economy. The use of negative interest rates is a tool to counter potential deflationary spirals where - in times of economic uncertainty - there is less incentive on the part of businesses and consumers to spend and therefore less investment, growth, profits and a higher propensity for unemployment which in turn creates a negative feedback loop. By offering negative interest rates banks disincentivize individuals and businesses to hold cash at banks as it now costs depositors money to do so (which turns the traditional banking model on its head) and encourages businesses and individuals to borrow money by actually being paid to borrow by the banks.

Sweden was the first to experiment with negative rates in July 2009 when the Reiksbank cut interest rates to -.25%. The ECB (European Central Bank) did so in 2014 lowering its interest rate to -0.10%. Other European countries and Japan have done likewise with over $10 trillion in government debt carrying instrument with negative yields by 2017. The objective is to encourage banks to lend money rather than hold reserves at the central banks (where they are now charged for the privilege). Another objective is to use negative interest rates to devalue a currency and in essence make it more competitive, stimulating the economy through demands for export of goods and thereby encouraging business expansion.  This has been one of the objectives of the ECB.

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