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Bulls and Bears

F T L
2 minute read

The terms bear market and bull market are used for a falling and rising market, respectively. Most traders are quite familiar with these terms, but the origins are less obvious.

Have you heard of “bear jobbers”? People called them “bears” for short. They would sell the fur of bears for the trappers, often before they had received the pelts. This made them effectively short selling pelts, keeping profits on the spread of what they sold the pelts for versus their costs. This is one of the sources people cite as why we call it a bear market to this day.

Another source of these terms comes from the bull and bear blood sports that were popular in the 1800s in California. They would leash a bull and bear together loosely and have them fight brutally, often after sunday church services. Either could win, but the bears took more victories. Considering these origins it is easy to imagine choosing bull as the opposite type of market to bear.

The simplest and most common origin for these names comes from their methods of attack. A bull lowers its head and then thrusts it upwards to attack and a bear raises up and attacks with downward claw strikes.

This naming trend continues today in Chicago’s major league teams — the Bears, Cubs, and Bulls — since Chicago is a major hub of market speculation.

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