When it comes to the stock market, there is no shortage of intriguing and fascinating facts. You hear about the different types of securities traded and different strategies to employ while trading your stocks. You also have to familiarise yourself with various share market jargons and terminologies. Of these, you may have heard of the terms ‘bulls’ and ‘bears’ quite often. But did you know that the share market comprises of an entire animal kingdom that goes beyond just bulls and bears? Yes, every animal in the stock market represents a specific aspect of the market. So let’s try to decode these zoological-sounding share market phrases and understand the meaning of these animal-based slangs.
The first and the most prominently known of all stock market animals is the bull. The bull is the most positive of all share market animals. It represents a highly positive and favourable stock market environment. In a bull market, stock prices continue to increase, and investors increase their investment. Here, traders are optimistic about the prospects of companies they’ve invested in, and they believe the market to continue moving upward. Bulls essentially drive the share prices of companies upward. A bull market can go on for several years together.
The bear is another popularly known of all the stock market animal symbols. The complete opposite of the bull, the bear, is the kind of share market that is rife with negative investor sentiment. In a bear market, investors are cynical, rather pessimistic and tend to steer clear from investing. A bear market is typically characterised by a decline of interest in investing by approximately 15 per cent to 20 %. It is also a time when a country may be going through an economic downturn or a recession. People may be losing jobs and plagued by unemployment, which, in turn, stops them from investing in the markets. A bear market typically lasts for a few days, maybe even a couple of months.
The connotation of the pig in the stock market is the same that you would associate with pigs in all those fables you heard as a child. A pig is widely associated with greed. This share market animal is one who tosses aside investment principles and sound strategies and succumbs to greed. For a pig, returns are never enough. If a security earns high returns, the pig wants to keep reinvesting, going so far as borrowing money on margin or mortgaging assets. As such, a pig is an investor who takes risky investment decisions, which may ultimately result in huge gains or huge losses. The pig loses sight of the smart investment strategy devised at the time of investment and ignores cues to cut the losses, making it a dangerous and irresponsible animal in the share market.
Like with the pig, the connotation associated with the ostrich is precisely what you are thinking. An ostrich, as we all know, is famous for burying its head in the sand when tough times comes knocking. As such, investors who decide to ignore bad market conditions are likened to ostriches. These investors turn a blind eye to their investment portfolio, purely in the hopes that it will remain unaffected when the market regains stability. This stock market animal is known for ignoring all sorts of negative news and signs surrounding their investments. They expect the adverse market conditions to go away organically, without impacting their investments. Such investors believe that if they remain uninformed about the performance of their investment portfolio, they may somehow survive the volatility.
You may have heard the idiom ‘to chicken out’. Chickening out of a situation means to be scared of it. Similarly, the share market animal ‘chicken’ alludes to investors who live in constant fear of the share market. These investors panic the moment the market goes in the negative and start making impulsive decisions such as exiting a stock prematurely. They often forget that volatility is a by-product of the share market and base their decisions on emotions. Chickens in the stock market are also investors who prefer to stick to conservative and non-risky forms of investments such as debt instruments like bank fixed deposits, bonds, government securities, and so on.
Sheep investors are those that do not invest with any specific strategies in mind. Like sheep, they follow a herd mentality and base their investments on advice and tips doled out by others. The sheep investor typically sticks to one style of investment and does not change it for years together; irrespective of how many times the market conditions may have changed. They are generally the last people to enter a stock in an uptrend and the last ones to exit it in a downtrend. Sheep do not have the confidence to develop their investment strategies. These stock market animals prefer to stay on the side of the majority (read herd mentality) and follow a leader, who may or may not be qualified to provide financial advice.
The wolf is widely regarded as the most powerful and unscrupulous of all animals in the stock market. Often known to use unethical measures to make money, wolves are usually investors who are infamously associated with stock market scams. Jordan Belfort is perhaps the most infamous of all stock market wolves whose investment journey is depicted in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. Closer home, we have our very own Harshad Method, who became known as the Wolf of Dalal Street.
Final note: It is quite fun to associate the characteristics associated with animals with various investment styles. Every animal in the stock market has a unique investment style. Some start as sheep or chicken and gradually become bulls. A bull on the verge of retirement may become a chicken and stick to debt investments, and so on. It is up to you to decide what kind of share market animal you wish to be. Happy investing!