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The Cheech & Chong Stock Market Indicator


Cheech & Chong reunion may spell doom for financial markets.


Reefer, grass, the sticky icky, wacky tobacky, dope, the chronic, hippie lettuce, these are just a few of the names young people give to Cannabis, or Marijuana. But what is it about a plant -- a weed, really -- that can cause so much societal angst? Also, dry mouth, paranoia and a strong urge to snack? Wait, why are you looking at me like that? Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just reporting, man. I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were an officer. These sunglasses are really dark. Hahaha. Oh, my bad, I thought you said "Semper Fi Pockets." No way! That is not mine, man! Why are you hassling me?

That, smart guy, was a little reenactment of what could happen if you choose to break the law and experiment with the illegal narcotic known as marijuana. Make no mistake, Mister Doobie Roller, you will feel the force of the law come down on you so hard and so fast it'll make your head spin - and not in a pleasant, mildly euphoric way. These are drugs we're talking about! Drugs! Who do you think you are, Cheech and Chong?

It was 1981 when my mom delivered that angry little speech to me. Nevermind the fact -- as I clearly explained to her at the time -- that I was simply holding a joint for a friend of mine. As she wisely noted, the law doesn't care about whose joint it is, Mister Helpful Pothead Helper.

Yes, 1981. That marked the beginning of President Ronald Reagan's modern War on Drugs, which seemed like a good idea at the time; that is, until more and more kids realized the tremendous syntactical blunder involved. It wasn't, literally, a war on drugs; as in, a war fought while taking drugs. Had anyone in the White House had access to a grammar book, they would have realized their mistake and immediately moved to rename it the War Against Drugs. Ah, live and learn.

In addition to kicking off the Modern War On (i.e. Against) Drugs, 1981 also marked the conclusion of the active years of pothead comedians Cheech & Chong. The two events are closely related. As America entered the Reagan years, potheads turned increasingly unfunny. Social mood, eager to embrace a couple of loveable stoners during the structural bear market of the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, was shifting.

As it turns out, there's a pretty strong correlation between Cheech & Chong's career arc and structural and cyclical bear markets. So it should come as no surprise that Cheech & Chong recently announced that, after 25 years, they're reuniting for a tour and a possible new feature film. There you have it: The Minyanville Cheech & Chong Stock Market Indicator.

Let's take a look at how the career of Cheech & Chong matches up against the S&P 500.

S&P 500 (SPX, SPY) 1965-1981

Click to enlarge

Cheech & Chong were most active between the years 1971 and 1981, the heart of the last structural bear market, releasing just one minor album thereafter: 1985's Get Out of My Room. In 1987, they followed up with a movie of the same name, after which they immediately broke up. They thereby inadvertently rescued the stock market from the crash of 1987 and a potentially deep and protracted bear market.

The feuding duo refused to appear together until 2002, when they released a greatest hits package; this incidentally coincided with the heart of the first US stock market deflation scare. Fortunately for investors, Tommy Chong's sideline business, Chong's Bongs, was raided in February 2003, preventing a reunion and once again rescuing markets from a sustained bear market.

S&P 500 (SPX, SPY) 1981-Present

Click to enlarge

This time, as the news of the dope-smoking duo's reunion suggests, we may not be so fortunate. In addition to shopping around a potential new movie idea, the stoners are embarking on a world comedy tour. Clearly, barring their arrests, a tour (and requisite tour album), a movie and almost certain doom are in store for the markets.

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