Archive for June 5th, 2012

Where did Bulls and Bear symbols come from?

June 5, 2012

A superb post by NY Fed’s Liberty Blog.

The Museum of American Finance covers competing theories in a short video and essay on its blog entitled “Taking Stock of History: The Bull and Bear Statue.” The video presents former New York Stock Exchange trader Arthur Cashin, who suggests that the symbolism originated on the floor of the London Stock Exchange at the time of the Crimean War, which pitted Britain, personified in political cartoons as “John Bull,” against Russia, often represented as a bear. A museum intern offers an alternative explanation based on the fighting styles of the two animals and their parallels to market behavior. The essay introducing the video features a third possibility—that the symbolism is an allusion to fur trading. The text explains:

The term “bear” dates back to 1709, when it was used as shorthand for the bearskin jobber occupation. The title “bearskin jobber” originates from a proverb highlighting the practice of selling bearskins before catching the bear. In a more modern sense, a bear is someone who expects prices to fall, thus selling stocks in hopes of a future compensation.

That takes care of the bear, but what about the bull? According to the “Your Questions Answered” section of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in December 1962 (at page 18), the bull symbol developed after the symbol of the bear and in relation to it: “It probably was adopted as an opposite for ‘bear’ from the old English sports of bear baiting and bull baiting.”

The bull and bear as visual symbols may have entered the public consciousness with Thomas Nast’s cartoon in Harper’s Weekly after the crash of 1869 in which dead bulls and a bear (and for some reason a fox and other cute animals) are shown in a heap in front of a roped-off Wall Street with a sign reading “This ‘Street’ is closed for repairs” and a caption stating “What a fall was there, my countrymen!”


Indian economic data reporting woes continue..

June 5, 2012

The recently released GDP data showed there was a trade surplus in Q4 2011-12.

[In the Expenditure side classification, Exports were Rs 433,514 Cr and Imports were 424,743 Cr (constant prices). In current prices terms exports are 679,926 Cr, Imports were 631,398 Cr. As exports more than imports, you have trade surplus.]

This was simply laughable as it is widely known India has a trade deficit and a current account deficit. This was covered in the media as well. Though not as much as one would like. Perhaps data issues are a given now.

So where did these numbers come from? No one really knows..

Govt. officials defend this saying it is adjustment:


Are Economics PhDs Learning the Wrong Thing?

June 5, 2012

Loads of economics bashing going on.   Brendan Greelay of BW in this article asks – Are Economics PhDs Learning the Wrong Thing?

Some background first. There was an earlier article in BW which featured Yanis Varoufakis. Varoufakis was an econ professor at University of Athens who had said Greece economy was insolvent. So it should  default but remain in Eurozone.  He was threatened and quite Athens and joined UT Austin. A brain drain from Greece.

It so happens that Varoufakis had joined Athens Univ to revamp the econ department.


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