Bull & Bear Redux

A whole bunch of blog years ago, at the urging of Chris Locke, I contributed a silly little piece to Sweet Fancy Moses -- a wonderful magazine that was, at the time, billed as an online journal of wit.

The original SFM has now morphed into a rather loftier, McSweeney's-like literary publishing venture. It's terrific, of course - well worth a read. Yet at the same time it's also a bit sad to see the old SFM gone.

For a while back there, the site's rubric "Where Wit Lives" was right on the money - it was the best place to find dry, intelligent, and utterly hilarious writing all gathered together in one place (how the hell my contribution ever made it in, I'm buggered if I know -- *cough*, mumble mumble, obligatory self-deprecating comments...).

I wonder what became of Matt Herlihy, the creative force behind the original site. Maybe he'll ego surf one day and find this piece. Drop us a note Matt, let's catch up...

The new owners of Sweet Fancy Moses evidently changed course and overhauled the site some time ago. Unfortunately, the site redesign broke a lot of the old links, including the old link I had on my sidebar to that one meagre contribution of mine.

I've had to wrestle with wholesale link breaking nightmares in the past, when I first moved this site from the old Blogspot host into its own domain. Ugh. I know there are still 404s scattered throughout my archives here, but this one broken link in particular has been bugging me more than any of them. Not least because I hadn't kept a copy of the original piece anwyhere, which was a shame - I kind of liked it.

So, after a deep search through the online archives of the old SFM site, I present here for your next few seconds of mild entertainment, the fully restored piece in all its sepia-tinted, dawn-of-the-blogosphere glory.

(Note, this was originally written in April 2001, with the global economy grinding and shuddering through a US- and Japanese-led post-boom slowdown - hence the tone and subject matter.)

Bull & Bear

Mountains of newsprint and countless hours of broadcast tape have been consumed in recent weeks, chronicling the woes of a world economy on the brink of recession.

In particular, a great deal of attention has been focused on the impact of the current Bear Market on the investment community, corporate growth and the personal wealth of private investors the world over.

Actual Bear Markets are relatively short-lived phenomena – the average Bear Market lasts only around six to nine months. The longest and worst Bear Market recorded was the period from January 1973 to October 1974, during which the value of the S&P 500 fell by as much as 45%.

Yet even after the analysts have pronounced an end to a Bear Market, the global economy can still take many more months to fully recover. Not every Bear Market is accompanied by a recession, of course, but there is clearly a close correlation between the market climate and overall global economic health.

Bear Markets have the power to bring both the weak and the strong to their knees. Once proud companies suffer as sales contracts evaporate. Humbled CEOs stumble through layoff scandals. Loyal workers are cast aside like surplus inventory. Nobody likes living through a Bear Market.

I've watched the markets change from Bull to Bear and back again over the past 15 years. I've lived the IPO highs and negative equity lows, and I think I've figured something out.

Bear Markets are horribly hard on the global economy simply because nobody in their right mind wants to buy bears.

Now I don't have an MBA, or even any real financial qualifications as such, but it seems clear to me that Bull Markets are simply more economically viable all round. Bulls are precisely the kind of thing any right-thinking person would want to own. Bulls are useful, friendly, and easy to care for. Plus, they have that whole amiable moo-cow thing going on (in a totally woolly-bully, completely butch kind of way, of course).

Bears, on the other hand, are big scary bastards with loads of teeth.

Bulls give us things like steak, leather, fertilizer, glue, hat racks and brush bristles. Bulls keep hundreds of toreadors in gainful employment and support the thriving international red rag market.

Bears shit in the woods.

People will gleefully buy and sell bulls for considerable sums at livestock auctions. Try getting any bugger to cough up even pocket change for a bear. Ain't happening.

Seems obvious now, doesn't it? Bear markets don’t work because there’s just no market for bears.

As an aside -- there was once a reasonably buoyant Bear Market, but it unfortunately dried up when the construction industry stopped building new homes with fireplaces.

No fireplace: no bearskin rug: no one buying bears.

The Federal Reserve Bank should act immediately to cancel all future Bear Markets and turn all their attention to the Bull trade. No one wants Bears, so let's stop kidding ourselves and killing the economy by trying to sell them.

NEXT INSTALLMENT -- U.S. Economic Crisis: Enough with the Federal "Reserve", already – doesn't the U.S. government have an 'A' Team Bank?

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