- one who contracts to deliver or sell a certain quantity of stock in the public funds on a forthcoming day at a stated place, but who does not possess it, trusting to a decline in public securities to enable him to fulfil the agreement and realize a profit.—_See_ BULL. Both words are slang terms on the Stock Exchange, and are frequently used in the business columns of newspapers. “He who sells that of which he is not possessed is proverbially said to sell the skin before he has caught the BEAR. It was the practice of stock-jobbers, in the year 1720, to enter into a contract for transferring South Sea stock at a future time for a certain price; but he who contracted to sell had frequently no stock to transfer, nor did he who bought intend to receive any in consequence of his bargain; the seller was, therefore, called a BEAR, in allusion to the proverb, and the buyer a BULL, perhaps only as a similar distinction. The contract was merely a wager, to be determined by the rise or fall of stock; if it rose, the seller paid the difference to the buyer, proportioned to the sum determined by the same computation to the seller.”—_Dr. Warton on Pope._ These arrangements are nowadays called “time bargains,” and are as fairly (or unfairly) gambling as any transactions at the Victoria Club or Tattersall’s, or any of the doings which call for the intervention of the police and the protestations of pompous City magistrates, who, during their terms of office, try to be virtuous and make their names immortal. Certainly BULLING and BEARING are as productive of bankruptcy and misery as are BACKING and LAYING.
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