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The "Dead Cat Bounce"

Posted by: Ben Steverman on October 20, 2008

A “dead cat bounce” is the Wall Street’s evocative phrase for a brief rally that follows a deep stock slide. I guess it comes from the notion that, when dropped from a height, even a dead cat will bounce. (As horrifying as that image might be to cat lovers.)

Harry Shearer is the satirist who provides voices for The Simpsons (Mr. Burns, among others) and appeared in movies like This Is Spinal Tap. He just wrote a song about the current stock market called “Dead Cat Bounce.” Here are some of the lyrics:

You know things were getting depressing, Hard to shake free of our cares, Couldn’t buy my car on credit, Baby was selling her shares. […]

Then when the news seemed the darkest,
Here comes the best news yet:

They were doing the dead cat bounce,
Just watchin’ the big bulls pounce,
When only one day counts,
That’s when you do the dead cat bounce.

Two days later we sliding,
Right back into the hole,
Red arrows pointed downward,
Warnings blacker than coal.
You know baby was pruning her Christmas list,
eBay had my guitar.
Sure didn’t feel like dancing,
Until we heard this news from afar.

They were doing the dead cat bounce,
Stocks rising obscene amounts,
Only in my dream accounts,
Could we do the dead cat bounce.

The song appeared on his public radio show “Le Show.” To listen to the whole thing, here’s the audio file, or go check out the Oct. 19 program.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ben Steverman focuses on the latest moves in financial markets and emerging trends in stocks, bonds, and funds, always with an eye toward giving readers a better understanding of the sometimes confusing and often chaotic world of money. Standard & Poor’s senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt will also provide his take on companies’ finances and the markets. Voted one of the “Top 100 Finance Blogs” in 2007.

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