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Where do bulls and bears come from?

Countless tomes have been written on the causes of bull and bear markets, but have you ever wondered on the origin of these charging euphemisms….? I was recently alerted to the following notice posted on a display in the museum of the San Miguel Mission in California. We learn something new every day….

Bull and Bear Baiting
The grizzly bear was the largest creature in California. The Spanish and Mexican rancheros began to use this noble creature for entertainment. The left rear paw of the bear would be tethered to the right front leg of an enormous bull. The animals would then fight to the death. The bear would usually be gored to death by the upward motion of the bull’s horn. The stooped shouldered bear aggravated its own fate by downward thrusts, often impaling it’s paunch on the shaped horns.
After seeing one of these events a San Francisco merchant coined the phrase “bull market” for a period of rising values for stocks and commodities, and a “bear market” for when values declined like the downward thrusts of the bear. By the 1860s, the grizzly bear was hunted into near exti
nction.

Rory Dorman


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