#2. The Day of the Week
A disdain for Mondays goes beyond cubicle jobs and comic strips about a miserable cat. There is genuinely something awful about the first day of a workweek, and it takes its toll on productivity around the world. The stock market is no exception.
"Oh, sweet Garfield, only you know my pain."
Researchers from Turkey and Texas (no, we're not sure how they met) got together and studied the S&P 500 market index between 1973 and 1997 and found that days of the week can influence how much money you make trading stocks. Like we said before, Mondays are absolutely the worst. Wednesdays yield the highest returns. Fridays, on the other hand, were the drunken college girls of the group, in that they were most likely to go both ways.
And on Thursdays, Goldman Sachs gives free vodka to every broker on the floor.
Now there's a reason for the Friday phenomenon -- most economic reports are announced at the end of a workweek, so traders will have Friday to react (or overreact) to whether or not the news is good or bad.
As for Monday and Wednesday, there are a couple of explanations. Part of it is due to short sellers who freak out about their risk exposure over the weekend and close out everything they can, causing the market to drop on Monday. But the much bigger culprit is likely just simple psychology. In fact, whole heaps of studies have tried to understand the "weekend effect" on the stock market, and the majority of them contend the same thing: Investors aren't any more in the mood to do their jobs after the weekend than you are.
Just because you handle billions of dollars of other people's money doesn't mean you don't spend every weekend blackout drunk.
They are less likely to take risks, or yield nearly as much productivity, on Monday as they do later in the week. By Wednesday, however, traders settle back into their routine and are ready to trade the shit out of some textiles, or whatever people are buying these days.
#1. The Yakuza
The Japanese economy is currently the third largest in the world, which means everything that happens in the Japanese market has a ripple effect through the rest of the world. Essentially, whoever controls the Japanese economy inadvertently affects the economy of the entire planet.
Enter the Japanese mafia.
No, not literally. Jesus, put some pants on.
The Yakuza are likely the biggest criminal organization on Earth, consisting of over 100,000 members whose job is apparently to stroll around Japan, poking at financial institutions with sticks just to see what happens. Their influence has such a huge impact on Japan's economy that many economists agree that Yakuza activities, like stock speculation and loan sharking, were one of the main factors behind the massive Japanese recession of the 1990s. To this day, the country still hasn't fully recovered.
Even the rape-tentacles are underemployed.
So how did the Japanese mob hijack the economy of an entire country? The same way most businessmen rise to the top: they earned it. The group started out as a bunch of small-time thugs for hire, then slowly moved up to controlling the country's land deals and finally blackmailing huge corporations. That last practice, called "sokaiya," is so widespread today that most Japanese firms have to put that blackmail money into their annual budgets.
"Pay up, or we'll do whatever the hell this is to you."
The Yakuza are so immersed in the world of business that in 1984 the Japanese Ministry of Finance actually asked one Yakuza group for help in chasing away some other gangsters from a chain of Sogo banks. The Yakuza were happy to oblige, and then immediately took over those banks for themselves. They sold them off in 1986 to the Sumitomo Group, creating one of the biggest Japanese banks to date, which they still partially control.
Even today, following the massive earthquake in Japan, the Yakuza have been eager to help in the rebuilding of major cities, and in the process sticking their fingers in yet another fiscal pie.
Unlike our lazy-ass mafia, these guys don't fuck around.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance online writer and Japanese-English-Polish translator. If you pay him, he will write words for you. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on our economy, check out 5 Bad Economic Indicators for the Criminally Insane. Or learn about some wussy groups that are actually awesome, in 6 Organizations You Didn't Know Were Secretly Badass.