The mining market, just as other markets are, is affected by those influences which are known as bull and bear movements and tactics. But the average man does not know what these tactics and movements are, and though he hears very frequently of bears and bulls, he hasn't a very clear conception of what they are or what their special purposes in life's economy may be. He has, however, come gradually to detest the bear and to have an affection for the bull, for the bear seems to be his and other men's natural enemy, whilst the bull is a friend to them in disguise. The bear to him is the individual on the Stock Exchange who is for everlasting knocking prices down, and the bull is the man who is trying his utmost to put them up, and that therefore there is always a feud between the bulls and the bears, which will not be ended this side eternity. The bear to him is a curse to the Stock Exchange, and he should be horsewhipped. His sympathies in the contest are always with the bull, because he is himself a bull, or a speculator for the rise. He cannot understand putting prices down, and therefore it is an unfathomable mystery to him that there should be such lunatics in the world whose object it is to do this - people who will not make profits themselves, and who are determined to prevent others from making them. Such dog-in-the-manger selfishness is detestable, and therefore bears should be expelled from the Stock Exchange with ignominy. This, I say, is the average man's conception of a bull and a bear, the bull being the man who sends prices up - just the very thing he wants - and the bear the man who brings them down - the very thing he doesn't want.
This conception, many will be surprised to learn, is an erroneous one, or, at any rate, it contains only a part of the truth. As speculating for the rise is the only thing that is understood by the average man, a fall in the price of a share gives him cold shivers and disturbs his peace of mind until the price goes up again. He cannot understand that this very fall may be a positive advantage to him. No, he reads into it some other meaning, and that an unfavourable meaning, and hence, instead of seizing it as an opportunity from which he might profit, he is scared, and impulsively loses all that he may have gained. Therefore, to be a successful speculator, we should know thoroughly what bulling and bearing mean, we should know how to bull and bear ourselves, or how to take advantage of the bull and bear tactics of other people, and it is precisely because thousands do not understand them that they so frequently come to grief.
We read, for instance, in this morning's paper that there has been a bear raid in Belle Vues, and therefore that the price has reacted to the extent of 1/2. Now, Belle Vues are just the very shares we have been buying, for we hear that they are the best thing in the West Australian market, and are certain for a rise. They have actually risen 1/8 since we bought them, but we want a bigger profit than that before we sell out, especially as we hear they are sure to go up before long. But, lo and behold! instead of going up 1/2, they go down that fraction, and all through those d------ bears. Curse the bears! They've spoilt the whole show. Very likely to-day they'll send them down another 1/2, so we had better sell out while we have the chance. So we foolishly sell out, not staying to reflect that this bear raid, as it is called, is entirely in our favour. Why did those bears send the price down? Solely because they thought Belle Vues a good thing. Their sole object was to depress the price of the share in order that they might buy them at a lower price, so assured did they feel that the price would rise again and enable them to sell out at a good profit. No, we seemed to think that it was an act of pure vengeance on their part, of petty spite against the bulls, for we seem to think that they are endowed with some exceptional power to depress prices, and that they exercise this power now and then out of pure devilry, and not to profit by it themselves, except to have the pleasurable one of knowing that they have stolen a march on the bulls.
So if we had known what their precise object was, instead of being scared we should have held to our shares more tightly, and even bought more, in the knowledge that the bears would shortly buy back, and that this buying would send up the price of the share again. Or if they had depressed the price by selling shares they didn't possess, in order to buy them at a lower figure, and those shares were quickly bought by wideawake speculators, the price would go up instead of down, and the bears would be frightened. Then we should see them rush to cover, as it is called; that is to say, seeing the price go against them, they would buy at the lowest price they could give, thus putting into force a demand which would help further to strengthen the share. If we had calculated all this we should have profited considerably, whereas we played into their hands by selling. It is the object of the bears to frighten holders into parting with their shares, and if we will just bear this in mind in future we shall not be so easily scared as we have been in the past, but will quietly take advantage of a bear movement of this kind to our profit.