Panther Win, Bulls Run?

January 30, 2004 ( - Football fans and stock market pundits alike have a simple explanation for the stock market rebound in 2003 - the Tampa Bay Buccaneer's 2003 Super Bowl victory.

And with the 2004 Super Bowl looming, smart money should be on the Carolina Panthers, whatever the odds makers say.  

In fact, since the first Super Bowl was played in 1967, the so-called Super Bowl indicator has been wrong just 7 of 37 times.

The Theory

For the “uninitiated,” the theory says that a win by a team from the old National Football League is a precursor to rising stock values for the year, but if a team from the old American Football League prevails, stocks will fall.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the irrational exuberance of the late 1990s – and the sometimes equally irrational “inexuberance” of the past three years – have been as tough on this indicator as any of a number of more sophisticated models.   Despite victories by the old AFL Denver Broncos in 1998 and 1999, good times rolled on, while victories by the St. Louis (by way of Los Angeles) Rams and the (by way of Cleveland Browns) Ravens did nothing to dispel the bear markets of 2000 and 2001.   However, those “upstart” Patriots from the old AFL got things back on track (so to speak) by winning – giving stocks their signal to slide.  

Buc Trend?

Things were a bit more complicated last year.   The then-favored Oakland Raiders were from the old AFL, so their victory would have meant another year of red ink for investors, according to the theory.   But the impact of a victory was less than clear last year.   It was the first “pure” expansion team formed since the merger of the NFL and AFL, after all, and despite its long-standing presence in the National Football Conference, some argue that it shouldn’t count (besides the fact that in its founding year the Bucs played in the American Football Conference). Still, after last year’s upset of the Raiders – and the remarkable rebound in the stock market, promoters of the theory can hardly be faulted for wanting to say, “I told you so.”

Fans of the Eagles and the Colts could have suffered more than a mere loss of team pride.   Both were from the old NFL – so if they met in the Super Bowl, who knows what would have happened?

However, this year we have the Patriots from the old AFL, and the Panthers who represent the National Football Conference.   Or, maybe, we have the second appearance of an expansion team in the Super Bowl…and the emergence of yet another stock market indicator.   After all, if it worked for the Bucs…

Go Panthers!