Thursday, November 26, 2015

Your choice: Phils' World Series victory or healthy economy?

Some local economists have checked the stats and find a Phillies victory could mean high unemployment and a weak economy. So for the good of the nation, shouldn't we all be Tampa Bay Rays fans?

Your choice: Phils' World Series victory or healthy economy?


Around the newsroom, I've joked that given the choice between the U.S. averting economic catastrophe and the Phillies winning the World Series, I'd have to pick baseball.

Call it Faustian. But allegiance to a sports team can cause us to make all sorts of inappropriate and expensive choices. And when your teams have been allergic to winning as much as Philadelphia's, there would seem to be no price too high to pay for just one championship - even the financial ruin of the world's biggest economy.

Inquirer writer Frank Fitzpatrick earlier this month noted that Philadelphia's baseball teams have tended to do their best when times are bad.

Now we have evidence of the correlation between the Fightin' Phils and the faltering economy. With tongues firmly in cheek, the stat keepers at West Chester-based Moody's "confirm" that a Phillies victory spells bad news for the U.S. economy.

In a commentary entitled "A World Series of Irrational Exuberance" on the Dismal Scientist Web site, Ed Friedman and Ryan Sweet postulate that Philadelphia's baseball fortunes could be a "leading economic indicator." After all, didn't the credit crisis begin in August 2007, a time when the Phillies pulling it together and making a run for their first playoff appearance in 14 years?

"Researchers might be well advised to pay better attention next time," they write.

They cited 1983 and 1993 when the Phils lost the World Series and, of course, the economy took off. They note a disturbing "correlation" between high unemployment and Philadelphia Athletics World Series' victories in 1929 and 1930 and the Phillies' 1980 championship team.

Philadelphian to the core, the Moody's team concedes that while the "rational economic choice" would be to ring those cowbells for those Tampa Bay Rays, it's "incapable of such behavior."

Thus, they conclude:

Twenty-five years is a long time to wait for a championship. Go Phillies.

So enjoy the parade down Broad Street later this month. But like someone who breaks a mirror, get ready for seven years of hard economic times.

Inquirer Columnist
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Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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