It’s hard to miss the majestic and iconic “Charging Bull” sculpture that greets people upon their arrival in the financial district of New York. Actually, the aggressive bully is a mascot of sorts for investment and brokerage firms as well as financial districts across the world. So, what exactly does this animal have to do with the investment markets?
For all the soaring bulls out there! The term “bull” is basically used for a stock/equity trader, who holds an optimistic view of the market’s movement in the very near future. Because this speculator believes that stock prices are pegged to rise, he buys as many shares as possible with the intention of selling them at a profit in the very near term and making a quick profit on the trade.
Now, it is one thing to buy stocks when you have the money to fund the purchase; that is what investors (midterm and long term) do. But, the bulls rarely have the greenbacks to fund their purchase. However, driven by their optimism and the desire to rake in the big bucks, these speculators do not shy away from borrowing the money needed for the Bang.com discount purchase. The borrowing is done in two ways:
• It’s either money for the purchase, which is known as investing on margin (for every dollar that the speculator invests, the brokerage house put in x times more. This is a very short-term loan with a very high-interest rate).
• The seller of the stocks is told that he will be paid on the settlement day, which is in the near future (some form of derivatives trading).
The mighty bulls talk the fastest and fall the hardest!
Because either the money or the stock holding does not actually belong to the speculator, the risks involved in the trade are monumental. For instance, if money is borrowed and the value of the stock holding drops, it’s the speculator who suffers a crippling loss.
Similarly, the seller of the shares has to be paid the agreed-upon price on the settlement day, regardless of whether the stock prices have moved up or down. So, unlike midterm and long-term investors, speculators have their stakes set so high that losing is simply not an option for them. Hence, when a win is not possible through fair play, they have no qualms about resorting to unscrupulous means like:
• Getting insider information, which gives them an unfair advantage in the trade.
• Spreading false rumors that will impact investor sentiment.
• Manipulating the market movement with large-scale selling or buying.
A bullish market is actually good news!
While the Sex Couponer description of the bulls conjures up a murky image, a bullish market is actually a good thing. When used in reference to the stock market, the term “bullish” stands for an overall positive sentiment and upward price movement. Think about all the indexes soaring over a sustained period of time. So a bull market is essentially one in which the prices rise across almost all sectors. It goes without saying that such a market brings in the riches for the bulls. The term “bullish sentiment” is used to indicate that overall investors feel positive about market performance, the economy as a whole, and/or government policies.
The legends of the bulls
Although the exact origins of the term are unknown, there are plenty of legends pertaining to it. However, Thomas Mortimer is credited for the earliest usage of the term in his very popular book, “Every Man His Own Broker”, edition of 1769. Mortimer used the term in reference to “The Gentlemen of the Change Alley” or traders of the then London Stock Exchange. The author defines the term as a name given to traders who have neither the intention nor the ability to pay for a stock purchase, hence are forced to liquidate their holding, whether at a loss or profit, at the end of the contractual term.
Is that just another name for a fraudster?
If you were to go by the definition and examples set forth by Mortimer that is exactly what it is. Writing in the wake of the infamous South Sea Bubble, Mortimer seemed none too happy with the fact that the Late Sir John Barnard’s attempts to stop the bulls and the bears were thwarted.
In fact, the author spoke quite begrudgingly about such traders and almost seemed to imply that the market crash was brought on exclusively by the fraudulent ways of such speculators. But by far the most telling indication of Mortimer’s scorn for the bulls comes from the example he has given of such speculators.
The ever surly and hassled Mortimer’s bull!
The author gives an insight into how the bulls trade with an example in which he says that a bull is a trader who buys £40,000 worth of annuities in March, which have to be settled in May. The trader makes the purchase without the ability to pay for it, either because his net worth does not even amount to ten pounds or because he has his funds invested in trade. He knows that he has to make good on his promise of payment on the settlement date. So, as the dreaded day nears, he rushes from one office to another, filled with both fear and hope, trying to sell his holding to another person, possibly for a profit. If the market is bullish at the time, everybody is looking to buy cheap, so he will have to sell at a cutting loss, and he is distraught and gloomy at the possibility of incurring the loss. In his panic-stricken state exclusively on Porn Site Offers, he rushes about, with despair in his heart but a haughty expression on his face, which is needed to make the sale. So, when he is asked even a civil question, he gets agitated and responds in a surly tone, much like a bull, hence the term is befitting.
An ode to bullish ways!
Despite what Mortimer and perhaps others of his time felt about the bulls, bullish and bearish speculators have continued to thrive to this day, and the bronze sculptures in the financial districts across the world stand as a testament to this fact. The most noteworthy among such sculptures are:
• The Charging Bull of New York.
• The Bulle und Bär of Germany.
• The Bull Statue of Bulgaria.
• The Bull and Bear stand opposite each other in Frankfurt, Germany.
• The “all set to charge” bull outside the Stock Exchange of Islamabad, Pakistan.
• The Charging Bull of Amsterdam, the third of five creations of its kind by the artist, Arturo Di Modica, who gave the world, the famous Charging Bull of Wall. St.