Friday, October 10, 2008

Send in the Bears?

When I was a kid growing up, the stock market was under the mystical aegis of two astrological powers, the bulls and the bears.

The bulls, being bullish, were herd animal optimists, sure of their progress as an unstoppable force.

The bears, in contrast, enjoyed pulling the rug out from under, making pyramids tumble, especially the cheap Ponzi type ones, like you sometimes find among realtors, but really any business of sufficient complexity can be a haven for frauds.

This sounds like a naive question, but wouldn't there be less panic if we brought back the old imagery and made it all sound more intentional? It's like there're no bears anymore, only scared bulls, like lemmings on steroids.

Either that, or lets invent some new animals to help with the stock market. I get tired of bipolar arenas as economic models ("too Manichean" as Walter Kaufmann would put it), donkeys versus elephants included. They don't do justice to the underlying complexity -- which maybe explains why no one in power is using them much.