In 1985 the stock markets in Malaysia and Singapore were experiencing a recession. Late in the year, a pair of journalists took the time to review these markets. Wong Sulong and Horace Brag were looking at it just when the recession experienced a small uptick after its long fall.
These journalists from the Financial Times then surprised their readers by describing this situation using a term they had coined. They described the way the price moved as a “dead cat bounce.” The idea behind this phrase is that even a dead cat will bounce if you drop it from high enough.
Let’s clarify the meaning of the term. It can be used when either an asset or a market experiences an uptick after a long fall. It also implies that the falling price is legitimate and that there is a reasonable expectation it will be seen falling further after the bounce. In other words, the turnaround shown by the bounce is temporary. This makes the “dead cat bounce” a phrase more useful for describing past price movements rather than predicting them. The reason is that it’s generally difficult to be sure that the recovery is temporary.
A similar phrase that might be used in this case is a “Sucker Rally.” Based on the presumption that the downward trend is reliable, investors would be suckers to buy in after seeing a dead cat bounce, presumably becausethe price decline is likely to continue. When you see a possible dead cat bounce, consider being more of a dog fan.
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