Who to blame for the economy's troubles? Back in the halcyon days of last week, when the stock market was deflating but not cratering, Twitter funny man and advertising director Tim Siedell had one suggestion: "The Dow has lost nearly 1,000 points since the Smurfs rang the opening bell, in case we're looking to pin this on someone," he tweeted.
Measure from the close Tuesday's market, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more points than any day since the Dec. 1, 2008—the height of the credit crisis—and we find that the index has actually shed 1,429.51 since some costumed blue people, promoting new film The Smurfs, rang the New York Stock Exchange's opening bell on July 29.
Of course, it isn't fair to blame the Smurfs. The market is a complex creature, arguably more influenced by factors such as downgrading of U.S. debt than any bad cosmic juju associated with cartoon characters. Or is it?
We scanned through Reuter's photo stream of who's rung the bell since the Dec. 1, 2008, marking down the dates when the deed was done by pop-culture notables—foreign bank chiefs and domestic corporate CEOs therefore excluded. More often than not, those days saw the market lose points, despite the fact that the entire period from saw about a rise in the Dow from the 8,000s to the 12,000s until the most recent slump. The non-rigorous, non-scientific findings below:
August 1, 2011: Usher & MTV executives
July 29, 2011: The Smurfs
July 11, 2011: Chris Evans, star of Captain America: First Avenger
May 5, 2011: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
October 27, 2010: WWE wrestlers Kelly Kelly and Triple HOpen: 11,168.40
August 19, 2010: Terry Crews, Sylvester Stallone, and the rest of The Expendables
July 27, 2010: the cast of Jersey Shore
February 23, 2010: Shaun White, Olympic gold-winning snowboarder
September 18, 2009: Elijah Wood
February 10, 2009: Bar Refaeli, Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model
December 23, 2008: Hilary Duff
December 3, 2008: Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR champion
November 14, 2008: Big Apple Circus Ring Mistress, Grandma the Clown