Mentions of the Name ‘Anne Hathaway’ May Drive Berkshire Hathaway Stock

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Actress Anne Hathaway arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Photo: Ethan Miller/2011 Getty Images

The Huffington Post recently pointed out that whenever Anne Hathaway is in the news, the stock price for Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway goes up. Really. When Bride Wars opened, the stock rose 2.61 percent. (Rachel Getting Married only kicked it up 0.44 percent, but, you know, that one was so light on plot compared to Bride Wars.)

Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal found the theory so entertainingly incredible that he asked an expert. Could a mere mention of the ebullient Oscar hostess trigger trading algorithms? Are the world markets ruled by what essentially sounds like a Twitter trending mistake? Maybe.

"We've come across all sorts of strange things in our line of business, strange correlations," says John Bates, a computer scientist whose company, Progress Software, works with hedge funds to find algorithmic strategies.

In fact, as Bates puts it, because market-predicting formulas "correlate everything against everything," Anne might fit in there somewhere.

Basically, the algorithms are magical computer programs that sift through the Internet to see what people are talking about. Except these ones tell you, with statistical support, what to buy and sell. Writes Madrigal:

Oh, it's raining in Kazakhstan? Buy pork bellies in Brazil! And sell wheat in Kansas! Dump Apple stock! Why? Because the computer says that the 193 out of the last 240 times it rained in Kazakhstan, pork bellies in Brazil went up, and wheat prices and Apple shares went down. ... In fact, traders won't always know why their algorithms are doing what they're doing. They just see that it's found some correlation and it's betting on Buffett's company.

So even if it's raining in Brazil, and pork bellies are tanking in Kentucky, and James Franco is asleep on his desk at Yale, there's a billionaire out there who would actually like Anne Hathaway to host the Oscars again.

Does Anne Hathaway News Drive Berkshire Hathaway's Stock? [Atlantic]
The Hathaway Effect: How Anne Gives Warren Buffett a Rise [HP]