Gauging A Spooky Market Crash Omen

One of the top videos being watched on our Web site this morning is the "Hindenburg Omen" video ... an interview piece detailing the recent technical levels that signal, maybe, an imminent market crash.

Ohh ... spooky ...

We love these stories. "Omen" is a great word to have in a headline (I'll have to add it to the list). And it takes rather mundane business subject matter, technical indicators, and injects a little fortune-telling mysticism into it.

After all, business journalists rarely get to write about Atlantis or haunted houses. They just don't come up that much in business coverage. But a good, prescient warning sign in a psychologically challenged market and you just get into a Ouija board kind of mood.

These kinds of indicator-omen stories are a pretty steady fare for our business. You have your Superbowl indicator, your hemline prognostication, January weathervane, on so on. Or you can watch cardboard sales, pallet inventories, and shipping rates. All interesting ways at getting to what everyone wants to know: What's the market going to do? None of them is dead certain.

I admit I was unfamiliar with the Hindenburg Omen until I watched the video and did some poking around. Basically it's a market state where you are getting both 52-week highs and 52-week lows for a significant number of stocks. The market average needs to be rising and money needs to be leaking generally out of the market as well. (Yes, it's very complicated. Try this Wikipedia entry for details. Watch that McClellan Oscillator, though. And one of you market geek types can help them out with some sourcing). We apparently hit all these conditions in early June and on June 17.

Esoteric as it might be, the omen apparently preceeds a significant market downturn more than 90 percent of the time. Of course the problem here is the same as most of these other indicators ... correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Given enough data, you can make anything relate to anything if you try hard enough.

Even us business journalism types, who by subject matter alone should be more numbers and logic minded, lose sight of that from time to time.

But an omen named after a famous air crash that's right so many times? Who can resist?

Ohhh .... spooky!

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