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Friday the 13th: when business bites the bad luck bug

Friday the 13th has been a sign of bad luck since mythological times, but how has the date affected business?

Between 2012 and 2017 there has been ten Friday the 13ths, and on seven of those the FTSE 100 has closed lower, according to The Telegraph.

The Stress Management Centre and Phobia Institute estimates that between $700 to 800 million is lost every Friday the 13th mainly because people will refuse to travel, conduct business or purchase big items on this most unlucky of days.

More than a quarter of British people consider Friday the 13th unlucky according to a survey Powwownow.

One in ten of us will avoid travelling by train and 16 per cent won’t take flights. Whilst it is difficult to connect the links between a date and its effect on business, there are an unusual number of events in business that have had the unfortunate coincidence of happening on the fateful day.

Here are some of them:

2012: Friday the 13th of July: China’s GDP growth drops to a three-year low of 7.6 per cent.

China’s remarkable GDP growth began to show signs of slowdown, dipping 8.1 per cent over the three months prior to the fateful day. Accounting for around a fifth of the global economic output, Beijing was forced to slash its growth target to 7.5 per cent on the year due to fears that its economy could be “overheating” amid inflated growth targets.

When the growth figures bottomed out on the most unlucky of days, questions of a potential stock market crash were being floated.

Thankfully it only turned out to be the bad luck of the thirteenth and a financial crisis was averted.

2012 Friday the 13th of January: Costa Concordia cruise ship crashes

Friday the 13th, bad luck?

Unlike the Chinese stock market, this incident is hard to rationalise beyond bad luck. Launched in 2005 as the first of the Concordia cruise ships, the £372 million Costa Concordia was among the largest ships in Italy.

On Friday the 13th of January, it struck a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Italy’s eastern shores. Tearing through 50 metres of the ship’s hull, the ship began to sink. Some 32 people died, and final costs of salvaging the ship were estimated to be over $2 billion.

The IBM Friday the 13th bug.

The IBM Jerusalem virus, first discovered in 1987, is one of the most infamous Denial of Service (DOS) attacks in the tech company’s history. It hit Britain in 1989, attacking personal computers by wiping program files and “annoying businesses”, according to a Los Angeles Times report from the day of the event

The virus, programmed to strike on the fateful day, was one of the first to receive mainstream attention from the media.

A large number of variants arose from the virus, but luckily it is extinct today.