"It's pure chance," Warren Porter, zoology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told DailyFinance. "It's like playing roulette."
Sure, we can listen to the Darwinian voice of reason, but why? Let's revisit the glory of stock-picking monkeys in the past decade or so. Dr. Zaius and Dian Fossey would be so proud.
Lusha, the Russian Circus Chimp
In January 2010, as man could barely walk upright through the tail-end of the recession, circus chimpanzee Lusha thrived. Her portfolio topped 94% of Russia's mutual funds, nearly tripling her initial capital of 1 million rubles ($35,884), the Daily Mail reported. Lusha selected eight cubes among 30 that represented different investments.
The chimp made her homo sapien counterparts look like chumps by mixing equities that were private and state-run. The one move that turbocharged her returns was putting her money on banks that received a Kremlin bailout. Those rose 600%, according to the tabloid.
"It shows that financial knowledge does not play a great role in giving forecasts to how the market will change," Pavel Trunin, the head of monetary policy at the Institute for the Economy in Transition, said in the article.
Adam Monk, a Cebus in Chicago
Employed by the Chicago Sun-Times, a cinnamon-ringtail monkey named Adam Monk beat the market's average every year from 2003 to 2006.
The abyss of 2008 provided a moral victory. His portfolio dropped 14%, but he didn't take as big a hit as the national average (thanks to heavy investing in Marvel). He also outperformed Mad Money's alpha gorilla, Jim Cramer, on a few occasions.
Adam Monk picked his stocks by circling them in the newspaper with a red pen. You got a better way?
Raven, a Chimp Actress in L.A.
In 1999, a chimp in L.A. burst on to the scene, posting a 79% gain in her portfolio -- then boosting that to a whopping 213% gain the next year. Raven, whose picks were tracked by the now-extinct MonkeyDex.com, built her fortune by throwing darts at a board of 133 Internet-related stocks. She would have ranked as the 22nd most profitable money manager in the country if she actually had been managing money in 2000.
Alas, the dot-com bust at the dawn of the 21st century made a monkey of Raven, who hasn't been heard of in some time. Her portfolio began to underperform, and many of her picks disappeared along with the MonkeyDex website.
We asked Porter, the zoologist, if stock-picking monkey stunts might teach us anything about playing the market. "Not unless you can repeat the experiment several times and find one [monkey] that is really good at it while randomizing [the choices] each time," he replied.
Thanks for the reality check, professor. Even without monkeys, it's still a jungle out there.