Talk:1600: MarketWatch

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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I don't get it as much... Perhaps something to do with the apparent erratic behavior of a stock market chart? You'd expect a rising and falling line, but for it to completely trace out building patterns is odd.[citation needed] It would need a straight line, wouldn't it? and isn't that impossible in graphs like this? -- 13:01, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Couple of things in play with this one:

  • Comic #1600, so that's probably a reference to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (address of the White House). True, the WH isn't mentioned, but it's flat and makes for an uninteresting skyline element. What is shown looks to be the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, followed of course by the Capitol Building as referenced by the text.
  • Desire not to break the pattern is like in comic #276, where the pattern is so tempting that people wanted to continue with it, in spite of negative side effects.

Just a couple of thoughts. 13:21, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

There is no such a thing as "probably a reference". A reference requires mentioning the referenced thing. A more appropriate word would be coincidence. 13:30, 6 November 2015 (UTC)
He/she is guessing that it is a reference, and that is a good guess. "That's probably a reference" is fine to use in this situation. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
But it's not a reference, it's a coincidence. If it were a reference the White House could be seen in the skyline; it's just between the Washington Monument and the Capitol 13:58, 6 November 2015 (UTC)
Coincidence is not at all appropriate when the intended meaning is that something was done purposefully. What the person is speaking of is an implicit reference, so "reference" was the right word choice. You are speaking of explicit references, which are merely one type of reference. GonzoI (talk) 15:59, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

My view is that it is a play on how silly stock trader can be sometimes. There is a way of trading called technical analysis, where a trader will look for graphical "patterns" and "signals" in the stock charts and trade on that. This way of doing is notoriously looked down at by either truly quantitative investors that rely on actual stats/signal processing to place their bets or fundamental investor that will look for information in things like the balance sheet statement of a company to place their bets. So if you are such a technical analyst and you see such a pattern as DC Skyline appearing in the stock chart of a stock...well best of luck to make a trading decision based on that, mate.

With those who 'play the stock-market' seeking to gain an advantage, it at first seems impossible that an existing pattern (to some extent predictable) could continue, because at least some of those expecting the pattern will then trade on the assumption of that trend, thus changing the trend, even if (as stated) many others find it too compelling to rebel. Except that others will no doubt expect such a degree of self-interest, and place their own trades to take account of that, and yet others may try to predict what others will predict the first rebels predict everyone else is trying to do... theoretically ad infinitum, and thus maybe sustain the original pattern (or something close enough... e.g. the Capital dome being a few points 'higher' in the graph than it ought to be, but still similar enough in shape and symmetry).
High-frequency microtrading algoritms have the same issue of recursion. Initially they exploit human errors and behaviours, but then an algorithms that can predict what these algorithms would predict can 'play the algorithm', and so on to an arbitrary level of recursion. Not that the sum total would be likely to be swayed towards an aesthetic graph, but how about a high-frequency trading algorithm whose sole effort (intentionally or otherwise) would be to place transaction requests to 'tweak' the market towards a given result? With enough capital (NPI!) behind it, it's theoretically possible, and if co-designed with an algorith that would rely upon generating its own profit from knowing (and yet not acting to disrupt) the 'planned trend'. I wouldn't like to suggest there'd be a net sum profit, across both(/all?) levels of algorithms employed... Greater minds than I (or at least ones more privilidged in position and resources) have doubtless tried this kind of thing, however... 18:10, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Plus, Randall seems to be playing on the whole idea some pundits on TV gives people that "the market" is a conscious entity with the ability to go up and down. If this was the case, well this skyline pattern could emerge just like that. But as real price is defined by market participants behavior, there is no way for it to be so smooth (unless this is a fairly illiquid stocks that trade rarely and jumps violently when it does.) Finally, the comments play on the same idea that some people will see a "spirit" in the market, while it's just participant pushing the price around (taking actual economic factors into account in their decisions.).

And stock price can definitely jump if a major event happen or flatline if nobody trades it so the Capitol is really the only pattern that feels truly impossible here :p (first time I post here, so apologies if I did not respect a rule of the wiki) Legaulois (talk) 14:16, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

In my mind, there has recently been an increase in tools allowing for live events to be controlled by massive numbers of internet users in order to attempt to bang out patterns. Twitch Plays Pokemon comes to mind. Perhaps this comic has something to do with this new trend: a stock market version of the Twitch Plays phenomenon, with investors trying to bang out a pattern together by pressing the right buttons (buying stocks and dumping them) in the right order. Is that worth mentioning? 15:17, 6 November 2015 (UTC)dmar198

I saw this as a reference to the logos TV news reports use for their segments. Most market news segment logos have some representation of a generic or stylized line meant to imply a market index, and I know I have seen at least one that had their stylized line draw pictures in the middle similar to this. GonzoI (talk) 15:59, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

If the stock market crashes after hours and there's no one to see it, does it still make a sound? Ralfoide (talk) 16:23, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

I think this comic has more in common with the recent 1596: Launch Status Check. The traders become obsessed or distracted with driving the stock market index to continue drawing the Washington skyline like an etch-a-sketch instead of their fundamental purpose of making a profit. 18:50, 6 November 2015 (UTC)Pat

This is almost certainly based upon whatever article inspired this popular question: . Apparently some students drew the silhouette of their school on their country's outbound IPv6 traffic graph. Unfortunately, Google has failed me hard and I have no idea what the original article is. 05:50, 7 November 2015 (UTC)

I'm no expert on xkcd characters, but why is this one labelled as Ponytail when she doesn't have a ponytail? Atreides (talk) 05:38, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

Correct this is not ponytail and I have corrected it. As you say she has not tail ;-) --Kynde (talk) 14:54, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

I believe this stems from a surprising correlation between the recent movement of the Shanghai stock exchange, and a map of Virginia, see Jorgbrown (talk) 04:46, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Am I crazy or does the flag on the Capitol Building actually move the line move backwards a pixel before going back down? This would indicate hacking time as well as the financial market... (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I mean it's drawn by hand... Undergroundmonorail (talk) 13:22, 24 October 2020 (UTC)

I don't know whether this is worth adding to the article, but somebody just wrote a script to do this in a prediction market. KingSupernova (talk) 21:48, 23 November 2022 (UTC)