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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about. . . the origins of the stock market phrase "bull" and "bear" markets.


NUNLEY: Are you feeling bearish or bullish? If you're a player in the financial market you're always being subjected to the whims of one or the other of the totem animals of capitalism. About 150 years ago bears and finance were linked in the term "bear skin jobber." The phrase referred to speculators who'd sell the promise of bear skins at a high price before they'd actually caught the animals. Later they would buy actual bear skins when the price dropped. But what of the bull? Well, round about the time the term bear was coined, bears and bulls were often pitted against each other in baiting rings. People bet on the outcome of a fight between the two huge creatures, so the word "bull" gained usage as the opposite of "bear." Today, although we're experiencing a prolonged bull market, there's one bear market that's growing fast. Teddy bears have become a hot collector's item. A 1904 Steif Teddy recently sold at an auction at Christie's in London for the record price of nearly $200,000. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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