ART CASHIN: Sell On Rosh Hashanah, Buy On Yom Kippur

Rosh hashanah jewish worshippers western wallREUTERS/Ammar AwadFemale Jewish worshippers pray in front of the men’s section at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem’s Old City September 3, 2013 ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which starts at sundown on Wednesday.

Like always around this time of year, UBS’s veteran trader
Art Cashin is sharingthe story of his start on Wall Street, which also comes with a trading rule: sell on Rosh Hashanah, buy on Yom Kippur.

September Weakness And Rosh Hashanah — Tonight at sundown marks the start of Rosh Hashanah. A little over 50 years ago, as I was starting out in Wall Street. I was lucky enough to be hired by a small, bright, aggressive firm where I learned unique things from some wonderful people. I thought they hired me because I was sharp, inquisitive and hard working. Some of the older salesmen, instead, used to joke that I was the “Shabbes Goy” – the only non-Jewish employee who could then man the phones on religious holidays. It was a joke (I think) but it gave an altar boy from Jersey City a chance to learn a little Yiddish and a touch of cultural traditions.

The way I learned it, you sell on Rosh Hashanah and buy back on Yom Kippur. The thesis, I was told, was that you wished to be free (as much as possible) of the distraction of worldly goods during a period of reflection and self-appraisal.

Later as I studied market cycles and economic cycles, I was struck that the oft-repeated September/October weakness (crop cycle/money float) often corresponded to the Rosh Hashanah tradition. Is it cultural coincidence or cultural overlap? Who knows! (And we’ve never had a Rosh Hashanah and a QE3.)

One last note on Rosh Hashanah. My late, lamented Irish mum, tended to see everything in a Celtic perspective – even Jewish New Years. She would say – “You better get up to the deli fast ’cause the Jewish people will be leaving early for ‘Rose of Shannon’.” Anyway, if it is your holiday, “Leshona Toyva Tikoseyvu!” Happy 5774.

Last year, shorting Rosh Hashanah and buying Yom Kippur would’ve netted you a profit. (The S&P 500 fell 1.9% during that period.)

And according to Bespoke Investment Group, it would’ve worked in eight of the previous 12 years.

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