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Chapter 5. Investments > Your Stock Portfolio - Pg. 40

Investments These terms have been used at least since the 1700s, although little is written that definitively explains how these terms came to be used. The most commonly accepted explanation for the terms start with "bearskin jobbers" who were people who sold bearskins before the bears actually parted with them. There was even an old proverb that has not withstood the test of time that referred to "selling the skin before you have caught the bear." After a while this term was used to describe someone who contracted to sell, at an agreed upon price, shares of stock that he did not yet own, counting on the stock price to fall. Then, he could then buy the stock at the lower price and sell it at the contract price to the people who had signed a contract. It goes without saying (another useless phrase because it always precedes someone saying what they just told you they would not be saying) that these "bearskin jobbers" were planning on the price of the stock going down precipitously. Eventually "bearskin jobbers" became "bears." But what about "bulls"? Apparently, bull and bear baiting was once a popular sport and since bulls were the opposite of bears, bulls became those who were identified with the stock market going up in direct contrast to the bears, who were identified with the stock market going down. [2] 40 Your Stock Portfolio Dow Jones Industrial Average We hear much about the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Every day people find their mood rising or falling based upon whether the Dow, which to many people is synonymous with the overall economy, is doing well or poorly. But how many people actually know what the Dow Jones Industrial Average is? After you read this section, you will know this fascinating trivia so you can toss it out at an opportune moment and look really, really smart or be ready when Alex Trebek asks, during Final Jeopardy, a question about the number of stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And remember to make your answer in the form of a question. He is so very picky about that.