Clairvoyant Swine Predicts Stocks
Over the years many animals have tried their hand at the stock market. Chimps and other apes seem to be the best at it, though octopi and the occasional parrot has also proven to be talented prognosticators.
But until now, there has never been a genius stock-picking pig.
Combo, a four-year-old pig living on the Placer Farm in Vermont, always had an interest in wealth. “When he was a baby, he used to squeal whenever dad would read the financial pages,” said Caroline Placer. At first, the family thought it might be a coincidence, but Combo has the same reaction when business channels were on TV, or when a financial-themed movie was on cable. “He loved Trading Places, Margin Call, Boiler Room, and especially Wall Street,” said Placer’s husband Hugh Chandler. “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, not so much.”
The Placer family’s realization that their pet pig liked money led to a second realization, which is that he had a talent for making it.
“We started to see that certain stocks excited him, while others left him cold,” said Placer. “Dad began to put a little money in Combo’s favorites, mostly as a joke, but they all went up. Then he got more serious about it.”
The patriarch, who passed in 2019, eventually invested more than $300,000 in capital, which grew to more than $2.2 million on the strength of Combo’s counsel.
“People thought that my father-in-law was crazy,” said Chandler. “And I guess he was, but not because of Combo. He had pretty severe Paranoid Personality Disorder. When I first started courting Caroline, he thought I was an assassin. Took him a while to let me in the house.”
After spotting Combo’s talent, the family eventually worked out a system for extracting his predictions. Each Saturday morning, they draw up him a list of companies that intrigue them and go with Combo into the yard behind the house. When the family names a stock he likes, he pushes a corncob closer to the house. When he’s cool on a company, he pushes a corncob away.
“Over the years we’ve stopped using real corn cobs,” says Placer. “We have these rubber ones that are brightly colored. I don’t know if that makes it more fun for him, but it’s more fun for us.”
Sadly, Combo’s talent does not extend to other fields. “He’s never picked a horse race or a Super Bowl,” said Chandler.
Initially, Combo was — like nearly every other pig on the Placer farm — destined for an abrupt end in a nearby slaughterhouse, but his talent has been his salvation. He now lives inside the main house, in a bedroom larger than that of any of the humans. “It was the master,” Placer says. “When Dad passed, Mom moved into one of the smaller ones, and Combo got the big room. And I should say that it’s a myth that pigs are dirty. He’s extremely fussy, in fact. If there’s a sock or something on the floor, he’ll push it toward the door with his nose.”
“We should put some money in the sock market,” said Chandler. He then began laughing, could not stop, choked on the gum he was chewing, and had to be taken to the emergency room.
“That’s why Dad wouldn’t let him in,” said Placer. “Because of jokes like that. It wasn’t because he thought he was an assassin. Ridiculous.”