Time’s Cover Jinx?

Sports fans are probably familiar with Sports Illustrated’s cover jinx. As SI itself explains, “Millions of superstitious readers — and many athletes — believe that an appearance on Sports Illustrated’s cover is the kiss of death.” (The SI jinx timeline really is remarkable, see here.)

So, is the same type of jinx emerging with Time’s “Person of the Year” cover? Richard Nixon receives the honor (for a second time) in 1972, and the Watergate scandal breaks in 1973. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all receive the honor in the year they are elected President of the United States, and their approval ratings drop dramatically in the following, first year of their presidential terms. “You” receive the honor in 2006, and we all know what happens to the bank accounts of many of those honorees in 2007 and 2008. And now just a month after being named Time’s Person of the Year for 2009, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s confirmation is in question. (See here and here.)

Admittedly, Chairman Bernanke is controversial. Some believe that he pulled the global economy back from the brink, sparing us from further devastation in another depression. Others believe that he leans too closely towards Wall Street and did not do enough to prevent the economic crisis. But what would a “no” vote at this time mean for the economy? Markets like certainty, and at least Chairman Bernanke is a known quantity, particularly when there is no known “Plan B.” In the end, I suspect that all of the political anxiety about the confirmation will fall into the category of being “much ado about nothing,” (see here) and the political rhetoric of the past week will simply be another example of politicians governing with an eye towards the next election, rather than the long-term interests of the country.

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