Mercury Retrograde Effect in Capital Markets: Truth or Illusion?

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From the most ancient times, the astrological beliefs have played an important role in human history, thinking, world-views, language and other elements of social culture. The practice of relating the movement of celestial bodies to events in financial markets is relatively newer but despite the inconsistency between financial astrology and standard economic or financial theory, it seems to be largely spread among capital market traders. This paper evaluates one of the astrological effects on the capital market, more precisely the Mercury retrograde effect on US capital market. Despite the fact that it is just an optical illusion the astrological tradition says that Mercury retrograde periods are characterized by confusion and miscommunications. The trades could be less effective, the individuals more prone to make mistakes so there is a long-held belief that it is better to avoid set plans during Mercury retrograde, signing contracts, starting new ventures or open new stock market positions. The main findings of this study are lower return’s volatilities in the Mercury retrograde periods, inconsistent with the astrologic theories assumptions but consistent with the idea that trader’s beliefs in Mercury retrograde effect could change the market volatility exactly in the opposite sense than the predicted one.

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