From ‘bear market’ to ‘dead cat bounce’, what do these mind-boggling terms actually mean?


As viewers from around the world tune in every Sunday night to watch the final season of HBO’s hit show, Succession, unfold, fans have taken to social media to express confusion at the corporate and business jargon used in the show.

We have compiled a list of the most Googled stock market terms that feature on Succession to give viewers a better understanding of just what exactly Kendall Roy is actually talking about.

The 15 most baffling stock-market terms, according to Google

Taking a list of 50 popular words and phrases associated with the stock market and Succession and pairing each one with the word meaning, the below data reveals the top 15 terminologies that internet users and fans of the show are keen to understand.

Term Average Monthly Searches
ETF 103,000
IPO 95,000
Broker 46,000
Arbitrage 23,000
ADR 22,000
Bear Market 11,000
Bull Market 7,600
To The Moon 4,900
Dividend Yield 3,900
Dead Cat Bounce 3,200
Tanking 2,400
Averaging Down 2,300
Whales 1,800
Day Trading 1,700
Margin Account 1,600

Deciphering the stock market jargon

With 103,000 monthly searches, ‘ETF’ is the most baffling stock-market term in the world. So, if you’re keen to find out what an ETF actually is, you’re in luck.

ETF – ETF stands for exchange-traded fund, which is essentially a fund that trades on exchanges, generally tracking a specific index. While stocks are just one instrument, an ETF consists of diversified investments such as stocks, commodities, bonds, and other securities, which are known as holdings. ETFs are often less volatile than individual stocks, meaning your investment shouldn’t swing in value as much, however, there is still a risk in loss of value.

IPO – In second place with 95,000 searches comes another abbreviation: IPO. IPO stands for initial public offering. This is when a private company becomes public by selling its shares on a stock exchange. Companies often issue an IPO to raise capital to fund growth initiatives, raise their public profile, or to pay off debts.

Broker – With 46,000 searches, people are also asking what the word ‘broker’ means. In laments terms, a broker is an individual or firm that acts as a middleman between an investor and a securities exchange. They facilitate trades between individuals or companies and may provide investors with research, investment plans, and market intelligence.

Arbitrage – Another term that’s baffling internet users and Succession viewers alike is ‘arbitrage’. This refers to a stock market practice of buying something in one place before moving to sell in another,thereby profiting from price differences in different locations.

ADR – ADR – is another frequently questioned abbreviation, according to our data. However, ADRs are simply American Depositary Receipts for foreign companies that are listed on US stock exchanges. An ADR is a form of security, offering US investors the opportunity to gain investment exposure to non-US stocks without of dealing with foreign stock markets.

Bear Market Another term that’s proving to be popular is ‘bear market’ which is defined by a prolonged drop in asset prices. Typically, a bear market happens when a broad market index falls by 20% or more from its most recent high. It’s believed that the term originates with pioneer bearskin traders. As the traders hoped to buy the fur from trappers at a lower price than what they’d sold it for, ‘bears’ became associated with a declining market.

Bull Market On the other hand, bull market is the opposing term to bear market. Bull market refers to a period of time when the price of an asset or security rises continuously by 20% after two declines of 20% each.

To The Moon Often used by stocks and cryptocurrency traders, the phrase ‘to the moon’ essentially means the price of an asset is continuously growing. This term has been frequently used by Twitter and Tesla owner, Elon Musk, referring to various ‘meme coins’ projections.

Dividend Yield – The dividend yield is a financial ratio that tells you the percentage of a company’s share price that it pays out in dividends each year. Some investors, such as those who are retired, rely on dividends for their income, meaning the dividend yield of their portfolio could have a meaningful effect on their personal finances. After Logan Roy’s passing at the beginning of season 4, the ‘old guard’ of Gerri, Karl and Frank are seen negotiating strategies for the GoJo deal with Lukas Matsson, all with the fear that their own portfolio and finances might be negatively affected by the sudden change in circumstance without Logan.

Dead Cat Bounce – With 3,200 monthly searches, it’s no wonder so many people are asking what ‘Dead Cat Bounce’ means. The saying refers to a temporary recovery in share prices after a substantial fall, caused by speculators buying in order to cover their positions. Derived from the famous Wall Street phrase “even a dead cat will bounce if it falls from a great height”, dead cat bounce is now applied to any case where there’s a brief resurgence following a severe decline. You may also hear this referred to as a Sucker Rally – Whilst this doesn’t necessarily happen in Succession to the Waystar Royco corporation and it’s respective stock, there have been moments within the show where this was feared, particularly during the cruise fiasco that saw talks take place over which member of the ‘inner circle’ would take the fall and potentially risk time in prison.

Tanking – When you hear the phrase ‘tanking’ or ‘in the tank’, this typically means that a stock has encountered a poor quarterly performance, leading to a price decline shortly after. If someone says their assets are ‘tanking’, it means they aren’t doing great right now. This has occurred in Succession a couple of times, most notably in episode 3 of season 4 after patriarch, Logan Roy passes away, making the ATN stock plummet due to the looming uncertainty of the direction of the company.

Averaging down There is a common strategy called ‘averaging down’ which investors use when their investment decisions go against them. ‘Averaging down’ involves buying more shares after they fall in price, lowering the average cost of all the shares held, in the effort to add value to their portfolio.

Whales – While whales are usually found in the ocean, when it comes to stocks, the term ‘whale’ is a nickname given to investors who have the potential to manipulate the market. A whale can be an individual or company with enough money or power to influence the price of a stock. These individuals usually make huge investments, with their actions causing a huge ‘splash’. For example, in Succession, Lukas Matsson could be considered a ‘whale’, a position that he evidently knows and manipulates, sending controversial tweets at crucial moments during business proceedings that can wildly affect the market.

Day Trading Day trading is a strategy which involves buying and selling shares of stocks within the same day with the intent of profiting from price movements. For example, a day trader may open a new position of a stock at 9 a.m., then close that same position at 2 p.m. These traders rarely hold positions overnight.

Margin Account –  A margin account involves borrowing funds from your broker-dealer to purchase securities, using the account as collateral. You will also be required to pay a periodic interest rate to the broker. A margin account can increase your purchasing power however it can also expose you to greater losses.

Acquisition An acquisition is when one company buys out another and takes over the operations of said company. Succession is filled with talks of acquisitions, from Logan Roy initially wanting to acquire GoJo (Lukas Matsson’s company), to the Roy siblings looking to acquire rival news network, PGN to get back at their father who also wants to take it over. All of the above terms factor into an acquisition and the value that a company holds, from stock tanking to IPOs.

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