Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunspots and Stocks - The Big Picture

Most people think the Sun rests at the centre of the solar system, and
that the planets orbit it. This is almost correct, but not quite (HERE).
Historically, most cultures believed that their collective behavior was influenced by the Sun and extraterrestrial cycles. Since 1755, when continuous recording of solar sunspot activity began, a lot of research has been focused on possible impacts of the solar cycle on the climate, weather, agriculture, and consequently also on the financial markets. In the larger social realm, increased violence, crime rate, upheaval, revolutions, and the frequency of military attacks and the intensity of warfare have been linked to the solar cycle and the resulting disturbances in the geomagnetic field (HERE). 

The tidal and electro-magnetic forces exerted on the Sun by the motions of the other planets – primarily by Jupiter and Saturn - are the cause for the cyclic solar activity. Outside of the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn combined contain 92% of the total planetary mass and 86% of the angular momentum. The Sun's radius is 0.0044 astronomical units, while Jupiter and Saturn can move the barycenter as much ~2.2 solar radii away from the center of the Sun. The total angular momentum in the Solar System is constant, while the angular momentum of each individual part of the system referred to the Center of Mass is variable. When Jupiter and Saturn are in conjunction with the Sun, the barycenter is far outside of the Sun. But when both of them are on opposite sides, the barycenter is inside the Sun. Jupiter's magnetosphere extends well beyond Saturn's orbit. If it were not for the presence of the solar field itself, Jupiter's magnetosphere would reach the centre of the solar system. Saturn also has a large magnetosphere, approximately about one-fifth of Jupiter's. The variation in the Sun's motion about the Center of Mass is charcterized by a periodicity of 178.770 years: Every 16 loops about the barycenter the Sun repeats a very similar path. The slight time derivative or torque to this 178.770 year cycle, a time dependant periodic function of +/- 1.05 years is called the torque cycle, determined by nine subsequent synodic periods of Jupiter and Saturn (9 * 19.858 years = 178.720 years) and used by Theodor Landscheidt to forecast sunspot cycles. 

Mikhail Gorbanev (2012): Probably, the earliest recorded hypothesis about the relation between the
solar and business activity was presented in a paper by German astronomer Wilhelm Herschel in 1801,
calling attention to an apparent relationship between sunspot activity and the price of wheat. In
1875 British economist and statistician William Stanley Jevons suggested that there was a relation-
ship between sunspots and business cycle crises. He reasoned that sunspots affect Earth's weather,
which, in turn, influences crops and, therefore, the economy. In 1934 Argentinian Carlos Garcia-
Mata and Felix I. Shaffner revisited the evidence about the links between solar activity and business
cycle in the US. They did not find support for Jevon’s theory about cyclical solar activity affecting
crops. However, they uncovered a statistically significant correlation between the fluctuations in
non-agricultural business activity in the US and the solar cycle.

Mikhail Gorbanev (2012): Solar maximums are good predictors of US recession, effectively predicting at
least 8 out of 13 recessions between 1935 and 2012. Recessions occurred in the months around and after
the solar maximums much more often than in other periods. Out of 13 recessions in this period, 8 started
in the 2 years around solar maximums, counting from 3 months before until 20 months after them. What
about the remaining 4 recessions that occurred in 1935-2012, including the Great Recession of 2008-09?
The brief recession of 1945 was likely caused by reduction of the US government supply and military orders
in the end of the WWII. And the similar causes likely triggered the recession of 1953-54 after the end of
Korean War (historically, the recessions quite often happened after the end of major wars). The painful
recession of 1974-75 was caused by the oil price shock. And the Great Recession of 2008-09 was triggered
by the collapse of sub-prime lending in the US, which exposed massive overvaluation of the housing stock
and flaws in mortgage lending and securitization practices.

Mikhail Gorbanev (2012): In the 64 years from 1948 to 2012, all 6 periods of sunspot maximums overlapped
with minimums of the US unemployment rate. Moreover, each time the dynamics of unemployment changed
from the declining trend to a rapid increase, with the unemployment rate peaking 2-3 years after the sunspot