03 February 2008

Life is full of coincidence

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, so it is my once-a-year opportunity to remark on the notorious statistical correlation between Super Bowl results and US stock market performance.

Sadly, it doesn't appear likely that 2008 will weaken that correlation at all.

In general, in years when a pre-merger NFL team wins the big showdown, the stock market valuations rise. In years when the championship rings go to either a pre-merger AFL team or to an expansion club, stock markets decline.

This year, the favorite to win the Super Bowl is the AFC (and former AFL) team, the New England Patriots. Known in the old pre-Foxboro days as the Boston Patriots. Also this year, the consensus among economists calls for a recession, which will strengthen the over-all correlation.

So let's root for the Giants, not because cause and effect could possibly be involved here but ... just in case cause and effect is somehow involved here.

Why don't those of us who discuss this correlation every year talk about "AFC" versus "NFC"? The two competing Conferences? Why is the coincidence always defined in terms of the old NFL? Ah, there lies the key to how this statistical finangling works.

In 1970, when the AFL and the NFL merged, most of the old NFL became the NFC, a conference within the larger new NFL. The old AFL became the new AFC. Except....

Three teams from the old NFL were moved into the AFC to even out the numbers. Those teams were: the Baltimore Colts (now the Indianapolis Colts), the Cleveland Browns (now the Baltimore Ravens), and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For purposes of Super Bowl statistics, by far the most important of those three teams is the Steelers. They've been in the Super Bowl six times, and have won it five times. Each of those five years was one in which stock market prices rose. So by speaking of the "pre-merger NFL" we can ignore the inconvenient fact that they played those games as AFC champs, and we can create the correlation we're after.

But let me not to the marriage of impressive numbers admit impediment.

Go Giants!

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.