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Japanese Traders Believe Showings of Studio Ghibli Movies Augur Terrible Job Numbers

When beloved films like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke or My Neighbor Totoro air on television, the traders know to gear up for a loss

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Some day traders have been known to wager their market bets based upon the cycle of the moon. Others prefer to study the patterns of sunspots in order to inform their decisions. In Japan, however, the superstitious market predictor of choice are Ghibli anime movies, the Wall Street Journal reports. When beloved films like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke or My Neighbor Totoro air on television, the traders know to gear up for a loss. Believers call it the ” the curse of Ghibli.”

Usually, this happens when a Ghibli film airs on a Friday night in Japan, which corresponds to start-of-day in the U.S.—or about the time that nonfarm payroll data comes out.

In eight of the past nine such convergences, the data came in weak. In seven of those cases, the dollar tanked versus the yen and Japanese stocks fell.

On July 8, 2011, during a showing of “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” a Ghibli film about a young witch and her cat, the payroll numbers came in 86% below expectations and the dollar fell 1.2%. The following Monday, Japan’s benchmark index fell 0.7%.

The Ghibli offering most deadly to markets is thought to be the one coming up on Friday: “Castle in the Sky,” or “Laputa,” as it is known in Japan.

Of course, not everyone buys into the Ghibli curse. Professional dealers deny giving the phenomenon any credence, and a statistical comparison of Ghibli versus non-Ghibli nights a commodity analyst recently performed did not reveal a significant trend either way. Studio Ghibli declined to comment to the Journal. So did the television broadcasting company that air the movies, though a rep there did point out to the Journal, ”Actually, these questions do not merit commenting on.”

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