|This essay by Mark Galasiewski originally appeared in
The Elliott Wave Theorist in January 2007
Past issues of The Elliott Wave Theorist and The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast have detailed the fascination with death that overcomes the public during bear markets: Horror movies, suicides, and serial killings all increase as the social mood falls. The debate over euthanasia in the past several decades suggests that negative mood may also raise the public’s tolerance of mercy killing. In early 2005, social forces on both sides of the right-to-die debate collided over the case of Terry Schiavo, a brain-damaged, comatose Florida woman who ultimately died after a court ordered her feeding tube removed. One month later, the May 2005 The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast had this to say about the right-to-die debate:
In every major stock market decline of the last 30 years, this particular debate has pushed its way to the fore. In the bear market of the 1970s, euthanasia was a prevalent social issue that came to a head with a similarly heated social deliberation over the fate of Karen Ann Quinlan, “the first modern icon of the right-to-die debate.” In the wake of the October 1987 stock market crash, the Journal of the American Medical Association printed “It’s Over, Debbie,” a seminal euthanasia article in which a doctor described his delivery of a lethal injection to a dying cancer patient. In 1990, the year of another major correction, Jack Kevorkian burst onto the scene. The physician known as Dr. Death assisted in the suicide of a middle-aged woman with Alzheimer’s. He continued his calling through the early 1990s, but as the bull market wore on, public interest in his exploits faded. In 1999, as the bull market was approaching its peak, he was convicted of murder. At this point, he is largely forgotten, but as the bear market intensifies, the right-to-die forces will make headway. Look for Dr. Death or some other champion of the fatally ill to emerge from oblivion.
Currently, only four governments worldwide permit euthanasia, but Figure 1 shows that all of them legalized the practice near the end of a globally severe bear market. (Here we use the S&P 500 as a proxy for a global index since most world markets tend to rise and fall with the U.S. market even though their wave counts are often different.) Switzerland legalized the practice in 1942 at the bottom of the 1937-1942 bear market. Courts in the Netherlands tolerated the practice starting in 1973, near the end of the 1966-1974 bear market. Oregon permitted mercy killing in 1994, the year that the mood of the early 1990s hit bottom (as evidenced by the advisory bull/bear statistics and by the record number of short futures contracts on the S&P 500 held by small traders that year). In 2002, as world stock markets neared the end of wave a of the current bear market, the Netherlands officially granted its citizens the right to die, and Belgium followed suit several months later. Though examples do not constitute a conclusive correlation, the ones we have all fit socionomic theory. As the bear market intensifies, we will be on the lookout for an increase in the number of governments that sanction assisted suicide.
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Most economists, historians and sociologists
presume that events determine society’s mood. But socionomics hypothesizes
the opposite: that social mood regulates the character of social events. The
events of history—such as investment booms and busts, political events,
macroeconomic trends and even peace and war—are the products of a naturally
occurring pattern of social-mood fluctuation. Such events, therefore, are not
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predictable. Socionomics also posits that the stock market is the best available
meter of a society’s aggregate mood, that news is irrelevant to social
mood, and that financial and economic decision-making are fundamentally different
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