Stocktake: Celebrities don’t make for effective market indicators

1980s singer Michael Bolton stars in stock trading ad. It’s a clever ad but ...

“It’s hard to know when to call the top in this crazy market isn’t it? But surely, surely, this has to be some kind of indicator”.

That was the reaction of the Financial Times' Alphaville blog last week, following the release of an ad for stock trading app starring 1980s crooner Michael Bolton. Set to the music of Bolton's How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?, the song makes thinly-veiled jabs at Robinhood and other outfits and suggests it's time for retail investors to break up with their broker.

It’s a clever ad. But is it an effective market indicator? Anecdotal indicators abound at market tops – Joe Kennedy famously said he knew it was time to exit the 1929 bubble when the shoeshine boys offered him tips.

However, we've been here before. "Mila Kunis rotates from stocks to cash" was a 2013 headline, as was "16-Year-Old 'Desperate Housewives' Actress tells CNBC her two favorite stocks to day trade". "Saxophonist Kenny G reveals two stocks he really likes" was a headline from 2017, the same year Mike Tyson tweeted that Trade12 "has what it takes to make you an Online Trading Champion". 2018's Business Insider headline, "The $100,000 stocks that Kanye West bought Kim Kardashian for Christmas are up by 40%", sounded similarly toppy.


Eventually, one of these headlines will coincide with a top, but the truth is celebrities don’t make for effective market indicators.