Of Bulls and Bears

4

Buy low. Sell high. The rules were easy. It was the universal truth everyone knew about the stock market, and was about the only education he had in it before he tossed in his life savings. It seemed easy enough; besides, it would be impossible to lose when betting on a sure thing.

A new company, with a new approach to treating liver cancer. It had already passed most of its clinical trials, and was seeing amazing results in Europe. It was essentially a guarantee. The fact that it was only eighteen cents a share made it even better. A small investment could go a long way.  So he threw caution to the wind, took everything he had, and invested it into the company.

He watched the minute gains every day. Every half-penny the company earned gained him hundreds of dollars. He began to visualize what he would do with the money he was bound to make: pay off debts, buy new vehicles, plan fun trips. He began to envision a life where he had comfort, and was no longer living paycheck to paycheck.

Yet it seemed for every up, there was a corresponding down. He knew it was the process of the market, that there were sellers as well as buyers, but over time it began to discourage him. He began researching the stock, participating in discussions about its potential and risks, and studying the stock market in greater detail. The answers he found disgusted him.

People could sell stock they didn’t even own, on the promise of paying it back later. These people would sell the stock, driving the price down so they could cover their “loan” at a cheaper price and make money. The concept boggled his mind. Who in their right mind would allow such a transaction? And as he watched the performance of his stock,  he began to see how artificial the entire construct was. The performance of the company had nothing to do with what it offered; it had only to do with the bulls and the bears playing tug of war with the stock for their own profits.

He watched as this market manipulation caused his investment to drop. He watched as the commas separating his zeroes were replaced. He watched as the company struggled to stay afloat as its stock price declined. He watched as the company voted for a reverse split, changing his thousands of shares into scores now worth pennies. He watched as his life savings vanished in one reckless gamble.

Not content with that, he watched as he walked in front of the bus that was hurtling down the street.

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