Kate Upton making the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is good news for the stock market.
If you think that sounds ridiculous, well, you're absolutely right. But that's what the data say, according to the analysts at Bespoke Investment Group, who have carefully crunched the numbers and found that, since 1978, when an American model makes the swimsuit cover, the S&P 500 is up 88% of the time, for an average total return (including dividend payments) of 14%.
You can't argue with that: It's math.
OK, maybe you can argue with that. The sample size is small, for one thing. We've got 34 years to study, and Americans have been on the cover in exactly half of those years.
For another thing, the market almost always goes up in any year. The market is higher in years with non-American models nearly 77% of the time, according to Bespoke.
You can't rely on it, either. An American model was on the cover in 2008, and the S&P returns fell by 37 percent. An Israeli model was on the cover in 2009, and the S&P returned 26.5 percent.
Wall Street is a superstitious place. Traders are always reading tea leaves and chicken bones for signs of which way the market will break. The more serious shamans analyze chart patterns, but people also watch omens that have absolutely nothing to do with markets or economics.
An NFC team wins the Super Bowl? That's a winner for stocks. Dress hemlines lower? Bad news for stocks. Nobody claims to actually believe any of this stuff, but they pay attention to it anyway. Or at least when it involves models in swimsuits.