Financial astrology: can the stars affect stocks?
Date published: 11th December 2013
It was the early Sixties, and Arch Crawford was an ambitious young trader working at Merrill Lynch. Raised in the regional backwater of Raleigh, North Carolina, he was determined to make it when his employers transferred him to Wall Street. He spent long nights in the company library, learning the craft of the technical analyst, whose job it is to divine the future worth of a stock, not by examining the company itself but by looking for patterns in its past behaviour. He did well, earning the nickname “Crash Crawford” when he predicted the “flash crash” of 1962. Then, in 1963, he read an article on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, about people who use astrology to guide their trades. “That’s a hoot of an idea!” he thought.
Arch bought a book on the topic, Stock Market Prediction by Donald Bradley. Bradley’s method of foreseeing changes in the market involved assigning a numerical value to the position of the planets and stars on any given day. He then plotted the values on a graph. The peaks and troughs of that line should, in theory, plot “turns” in the fortunes of stocks, bonds and commodities. It sounds utterly mad, but the model has been described by market watcher Peter Eliades as “eerily accurate”.