Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Sell On Rosh Hashanah And Buy On Yom Kippur"

Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

When I first came to Wall Street, I worked at a firm that had mostly Jewish employees.

It was in early September and one of the first of many Wall Street adages I was told was "Sell on Rosh Hashanah and buy on Yom Kippur."

Back then, I knew what Yom Kippur was but not Rosh Hashanah.

CNBC commentator Art Cashin seems to have had an experience similar to mine. On 2012, he discussed the saying:
September Weakness And Rosh Hashanah – Last night at sundown marked the start of Rosh Hashanah.  About 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 mom, 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 5773!

No comments:

Post a Comment