Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A DEW Line for Market Operators

As people of a certain age recall -- unlike me -- the U.S. Air Force assumed operational control of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line in 1957. It was an idea whose time had come about five years earlier, the brainchild of eggheads, I mean, geeks, I mean, geniuses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The DEW Line consisted of radar stations at the top of the world, semicircling it like a hacked-in-half string of pearls from Alaska to Greenland. Its purpose was to give the U.S. and the rest of the Western Hemisphere advance warning in case of an air attack launched by the Soviet Union during the hottest days of the Cold War.

(Speaking of temperatures, the most enduring memory of one military veteran of my acquaintance who was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during the 1950s focuses not on the bone-chilling cold of the long Alaskan winter but on the skin-piercing skeeters of the short Alaskan summer! But I digress.)

In a fit of free association years ago, I concluded it would be wise for all investors and traders to have our own DEW Lines, which could provide us with early warnings before our portfolios come under attack.

At first, my personal DEW Line consisted of the most traditional of market internals, namely, the New York Stock Exchange's advance-decline line and its ratio of new highs to new lows. Even now, I track these figures every trading day at Yahoo! Finance.

Over the years, however, I have added an impressive number of other enhancements to my DEW Line, including but not limited to the Securities Market Credit Risk Rank discussed in "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Risk" yesterday.

In an uncertain time, I am certain to be standing guard "All Along the Watchtower":
All along the watchtower . . .
Gotta beware gotta beware I will