By LouAnn Schulfer, AWMA®, AIF®, Accredited Wealth Management Advisor®, Accredited Investment Fiduciary®
How did bull and bear markets get their names, and what do they mean? Even if you are not the least bit interested in the markets or investing, you can’t help but hear these frequent references.
A bull market is one that is generally rising for a period of time and a bear market is one that is generally falling for a length of time. There are a few different theories as to how these rising and falling markets got their name and none are specifically documented, as the terms have been used for centuries. The explanation that I have heard most often refers back to the blood sport of bull and bear arena fighting. Yes, this is as it sounds… a bull and a bear would be let loose in an arena for spectators to watch until they fought to the death. The bull charges forward raising its powerful horns up while the bear attacks by swiping it’s paw with it’s sharp claws down.
Hence the analogy: a bull market is one that is charging forward with rising valuations and a bear market is one that is falling with generally declining prices.
How did Wall Street get it’s name? Everyone has heard of Wall Street. It’s even become a modern synonym for the New York Stock Exchange and markets. Wall Street is located in lower Manhattan, the financial district of New York City. It runs east and west from Broadway to South Street, and is literally blocks from Ground Zero.
Last year we visited NYC and the most fascinating experiences we had were the historical tours of the financial district. Wall Street literally got it’s name from a massive wall that was erected by the Dutch settlers on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, the boundary of then New Amsterdam, in the 17th century. The wall ran from shore to shore for protection of the colony. Some say it was to keep out the English; others say it was a barricade from Native Americans. I’ve even heard it was to keep out wild pigs.
One thing for certain…the street that ran along the massive wall that was commanded to be built in 1653 by colony’s governor, was simply named “Wall Street”.
Impressively, it has not been renamed after a market tycoon or political figure. It has retained it’s name throughout the centuries and still today, is “Wall Street”.
Finally, you’ve probably heard of “ticker symbols”. These are the abbreviations that are used to identify publicly traded shares of stock on a stock exchange.
When you turn on a financial news channel, you see them at the bottom of your screen usually running along with their recent price movements up or down. But why do we call them “ticker symbols”? In the early days of the stock markets, these abbreviations were invented to make communication more efficient and technology advanced to transmit this price information over telegraph lines.
A paper strip ran through a machine which made a ticking noise as it printed the names and symbols of stock of companies. One of the first devices was perfected by Thomas Edison in 1869, the Universal Stock Ticker, with a printing speed of approximately on character per second. Hence, the name “ticker symbol” came from the tick, tick, ticking noise made by these high tech machines of their day.
And there you have it- some fun financial history.
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LouAnn Schulfer is co-owner of Schulfer & Associates, LLC Financial Professionals and can be reached at (715) 343-9600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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