The Super Bowl effect

What the state of the NFL championship says about the broader economy

The Super bowl effect

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Predicting the future success or failure of the economy is perhaps only slightly less fraught than predicting the winner of the Super Bowl. But maybe there’s something to be said for using one to forecast the other. If so, things are looking up—especially if the National Football Conference representative wins on Feb. 6.

While business analysts speculate about a possible rebound in the American economy, the economic fundamentals of this year’s Super Bowl appear strong. As Forbes recently reported, resale prices for prime tickets to this year’s game in Arlington, Texas, are up 40 per cent over last year when the Super Bowl was played in Florida. And Prime­Sport, which specializes in travel packages to major sporting events, reported a 19 per cent jump in the amount spent on tickets and accommodation.

Meanwhile, after a slight drop last year, Super Bowl advertising rates are reportedly back around the US$3-million mark per 30-second spot, with all the available time slots sold out months ago. This year’s ads will apparently include a record showing from auto manufacturers, including the return of General Motors. Less than two years after it was bailed out by taxpayers, GM has purchased six 30-second ads for its Chevrolet brand.

There will be even more reason for optimism if the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the actual game. Looking into an urban legend several years ago, Mike Moffatt, an economist and lecturer at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business, discovered a slight correlation between NFC victory in the Super Bowl and economic growth, and the trend has only been reinforced by more recent results. Between 1967 and 2009, the economy grew an average of 3.1 per cent in years when the NFC team won and by 2.6 per cent when the AFC team was victorious. Furthermore, the larger the margin of victory, the more the economy grew. The relationship, of course, is coincidental. But if part of what the economy needs right now is confidence, it surely couldn’t hurt to see a Packers blowout in Arlington.

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