The Bull on Bowling Green
There's a big bull on Bowling Green – but there is no bear. To find the bear you have to walk down to the subway stop. At the one on Cortland street, you'll find a mosaic of the bear on the wall. That's if you're going to take the R train on the Brooklyn bound track. It's more of a tile art display. And on the opposite wall, on the other side of the tracks, is the familiar bull. But this time in its tile art form.
Keynes' animal spirits placed diametrically opposed seem to be in a permanent argument.
The bull says, "What are you worried about? things are only going to get better. Act on that. Bet on that."
The bear says, "What are you talking about? You have no clue what's in store. There is too much uncertainty ahead. Just you wait, it will get worse. Bet on that."
Maybe that's why the overly optimistic bull is always up there proudly taking pictures with the public and why the down-to-earth but pessimistic bear is downstairs. Is there room for only one animal spirit in the spotlight?
The bullish force relies on optimism but it can also become a source of vanity, pride, or the failure to acknowledge reality. The bear is there to remind you that you could be wrong. Or a worse possible outcome: hold you back from a decision that could have been the key to prosperity.
Both spirits drive decisions. The balance shifts. And it's only after the fact, after the markets close, after you win or lose; that you can look back and say:
"I wish I had listened to one more than the other."