Animal Metaphors Gone Wild

Bear markets and bull markets are so ingrained now as part of the basic financial

vocabulary that many people forget that they’re actually animal-based metaphors.

(Why do bears go down while bulls go up? I have no idea.) But there are other,

more colorful animal metaphors, too. A bad deal is a dog; a small rise after

a large fall is a dead cat bounce. Today, a friend emailed me to tell me that

a deal he’s been working on is "a fish on land," as in you’re never

quite sure whether it’s dead. And then there’s Bill Gross,

of course, who in his latest

newsletter comes up with this magnificent example of animal metaphors gone


That growing lack of confidence – more so than the defaults of two

Bear Stearns hedge funds and the threat of more to come – has frozen

future lending and backed up the market for high yield new issues such that

it resembles a constipated owl: absolutely nothing is moving.

So what happens when a roaring bull runs into a constipated owl? And since

when do bulls roar, anyway? And what on earth does "pigs get fed and hogs

get slaughtered" mean? Will MBAs soon be forced to take a course in zoology?

If you have any favorite market-based animal metaphors, do post them in the


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