A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 11, 2010
Permabear (Perma-bear)

A “permabear” (or “perma-bear” or “perma bear") is a person who believe that the stock market will go down—a “bear market” pessimist or “permanent bear.” The term “permabear” has been cited in print since at least 1995.

The opposite of a “permabear” is called a “permabull.”


DaveManuel.com - Investor Dictionary
Definition of Permabear
What is the definition of a “permabear”?

A permabear is somebody who is ALWAYS negative about the future direction of the markets and economy in general, no matter what.

There are two parts to this word that will help to let you know its meaning:

“perma” - permanent
“bear” - someone who believes in a falling stock market, or “bear” market

(Oxford English Dictionary)
bear, n.
Stock Exchange. A speculator for a fall; i.e. one who sells stock for delivery at a future date, in the expectation that meanwhile prices will fall, and he will be able to buy in at a lower rate what he has contracted to deliver at a higher. Formerly, The stock so contracted to be delivered, in the phrase ‘to buy’ or ‘sell the bear;’ see b.
[As applied to stock thus sold, bear appears early in 18th c., and was common at the time of the South Sea Bubble. The term ‘bearskin jobber,’ then applied to the dealer now called the ‘bear,’ makes it probable that the original phrase was ‘sell the bearskin,’ and that it originated in the well-known proverb, ‘to sell the bear’s skin before one has caught the bear.’ The associated BULL appears somewhat later and was perhaps suggested by bear.]
a. 1719 Anat. Change Alley in N. & Q. 1876 Ser. v. VI. 118 [Those who buy Exchange Alley Bargains are styled] buyers of Bear-skins.
1726 DE FOE Hist. Devil (1822) 238 Every secret cheat, every bear-skin jobber.
b. 1709 STEELE Tatler No. 38 3 Being at that General Mart of Stock-Jobbers called Jonathans..he bought the bear of another officer. Ibid. 5, I fear the Word Bear is hardly to be understood among the polite People; but I take the meaning to be, That one who ensures a Real Value upon an Imaginary Thing, is said to sell a Bear.
1714 C. JOHNSON Country Lasses I. i, Instead of changing honest staple for Gold and Silver, you deal in Bears and Bulls.
1720 POPE Inscr. Punch Bowl in South-Sea Year (Globe ed.) 490 Come fill the South Sea goblet full; The gods shall of our stock take care: Europa pleased accepts the bull, And Jove with joy puts off the bear.

Google News Archive
3 March 1995, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Sometime-bears come out of hibernation” by Tom Petruno, pg. C7, col. 1:
When sampling downbeat market views, however, it’s usually smart to separate the “permabears” from the sometime-bears. The permabears always seem to think the world is ending (at least the world according to Wall Street) and that there hasn’t been must justification to buy stocks in a decade or more.

Google Books
October 1996, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, pg. 53, col. 1:
PERMA BEARS
COMSTOCK CAPITAL VALUE A. You can say one thing about Stan Salvigen; He’s consistent.

Google Books
The Baffler
By Thomas Frank
Fantagraphics Books
1997
Pg. 88:
But the true bear — not the temporary cyclical bear, but the temperamental permabear — always expects all kinds of disasters: inflation, deflation, boom, collapse, in turn or in various strange combinations.

New York magazine (August 10, 1998)
Mad Money
Track the Dow for a few hours, and you’ll get vertigo. But look beyond the skittering ticker for a minute, and you’ll find a thread of logic you can hang on to. Really.

By James Surowiecki
(...)
1. Contrary to what the perma-bears have said, the ride of the bull has not been one big speculative bubble.

Business Week
November 11, 1998
ADVICE FROM MARKET BEAR—AND VALUE INVESTOR—CHARLES ALLMON
(...)
Q: Is there any closing thought you’d like to leave us with?
A: I just want to make certain everyone understands that I am not a perma-bear. I’m a value player. We are in a bubble market, there is no question about that. This has been a great bull market. But we are either going to get a humdinger of bear market or go sideways for 10 to 15 years. The risk out there is almost off the chart.

The Big Picture
You Know You are a Permabear When...
Saturday, March 11, 2006 | 09:15 AM
Last week, I referenced the terrific piece from Mike at Hedgfolios: (You Know You are a Permabull When…). This week, we have a little fun with the reverse of it:

You Know You are a Permabear When…
Each time the market rallies, you declare it an “unhealthy sign of speculative excess” (...)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Tuesday, May 11, 2010 • Permalink