Basic Tenets of Elliott Wave

The Elliott Wave Theory is used to predict market behavior by looking at market patterns. The theory was formulated by Ralph Nelson Elliot and holds that market movements follow predictable waves based on the collective psychology of investors. The theory has some basic tenets and we are going to explain them to you.

Five-Wave Pattern

This is the foundation of the Elliott Wave Theory and holds that market movement is characterized by five ‘waves’ or movements which drive the direction that the market takes. Wave 1, 3 and 5 are directional movements (known sometimes as motives). The other two labeled 2 and 4 are counter directional (opposite of the first three) and shape the overall movement of the market. 

Impulse Waves vs. Corrective Waves

The Elliott Wave Theory identifies two basic types of waves namely impulse waves (also known as motive waves) and corrective waves. The two sets of waves travel in opposite directions and collectively guide the direction of the market. Corrective waves reverse the impulse waves and they should never go beyond 100% of prior waves.

Market Cycles

In the Elliott Wave theory, a full market cycle consists of eight waves where five waves are impulses and three are corrective waves. Within each major wave could lie a series of sub-waves (FRACTAL). It is important to remember that these sub-waves follow the same impulse-corrective wave cycle as the larger wave.

Wave Degree

Beyond the categorization of waves as either impulse or corrective, one can further categorize waves in terms of degree. Below are the nine categories of waves based on degree. The period next to each category denotes the period of time the cycle takes. Please note, assigning the proper length of time can be difficult because the time that is assigned to each cycles can differ greatly based on the size of the entire move. So the time allocated is a general guideline.

  • Grand Supercycle: Takes place over several centuries
  • Supercycle: Runs across several decades
  • Cycle: Typically, one to three years
  • Primary: Couple of months
  • Intermediate: Four weeks to two months
  • Minor: This runs over a week or two
  • Minute: This spans a few days
  • Minuette: This cycle runs in the space of a few hours
  • Subminuette: This cycle runs in the space of a few minutes

Rules and Guidelines

The Elliott Wave Theory follows a set of rules that help traders discern between motive waves and corrective waves. These rules are further explained in the Corrective Waves segment.

Fibonacci Analysis

The Elliott Wave move in patterns that closely mirror the Fibonacci sequence. Properly applying Fibonacci ratios to properly counted waves mean tremendous accuracy on price targets.

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