Submitted by LoS reader “Charles”
In many roles that have been traditionally dominated by men, the underlying structure of a given profession is often personified as a woman. The best example I can think of is that of a sea captain: both the ship and the ocean are almost always described as a woman. Mother Earth yields crops to farmers; look to Greek mythology to find the goddesses of Spring and the Harvest. A rejoinder to this observation is the stock market. I have never heard a trader or an equity analyst (during my employment at a sell-side firm) refer to the market as a woman. Indeed the stock market is almost always given the genderless pronoun “it” in both common and academic conversation.
I, however, firmly believe that the market is a woman, and I believe the most recent sell-off gives support to my argument. On February 27th, the market behaved exactly as a woman would in a similar situation. In bed.
Over the trailing trading sessions, the market was getting nailed – in a good way – and she was really enjoying it. Point by point, rising closer and closer to double digit returns. Coherent thought was miles away as she slipped deeper into a state of upward momentum. Rising. Higher. Higher. It seemed like the pure joy would never end. But was there risk? Globalization and transparent markets had mitigated all need for protection, so on she went. Closer and closer to the peak of 52-week highs.
Then, as if fate itself called down to her, she realized she had forgotten to take her birth control and she was not “this kind of girl”. She was overexposed to sub-prime debt. The market went from legs-wide-open to frigidity in less time than it takes a fixed income trader to eat his Atkins lunch. And when the market closed, investors had to go to bed pissed off and feeling like they got kicked in the nuts.
Don’t worry, though. She’ll be back.