Every industry has its jargon, and the financial industry is no exception. Below is a collection of the oddest business and investing terms found on Investopedia.
Liven up a conversation and tell folks you prefer “ankle biters” to “big uglies,” that you expect a “dead cat bounce,” but that you’d never take a tip from a “dip.” Honestly, it’s fun. (See also: 5 Investing Statements that Make You Sound Stupid.)
To get you on your way to more lively investment conversations, here’s a list of titillating terminology:
Ankle biter: Small-cap investment.
Bagel land: A slang term that represents a stock or other security that is approaching $0 in price. Arriving in bagel land is usually the result of one or more major business problems that may not be resolvable.
Bear hug: An offer made by a would-be acquirer to buy a company’s shares for far more than they’re worth. This usually happens when the target company’s management isn’t inclined to sell and needs extra enticement.
Clowngrade: An upgrade or downgrade by a stock analyst that is considered foolish.
Cockroach theory: A theory that bad news to the public usually means there is more bad news behind the scenes, which likely will come out eventually. Also can refer to industry trends whereby one company goes under and other similar companies will follow.
Crummey power: A technique that enables a person to receive a gift that is not eligible for a gift-tax exclusion and change it into one that is eligible. Crummey power often is applied to contributions in an irrevocable trust, often in respect to life insurance.
Dead cat bounce: A small, short-lived rise in the price of a falling security, such as a stock. Even a falling dead cat will bounce when it hits the ground.
Eat your own dog food: The basic premise is that if a firm expects paying customers to use its products or services, it should expect no less from its own employees. Not using its own products for internal operations may imply that a company does not believe its products are best-of-breed, despite its public proclamation of the fact, and that it has more confidence in a rival’s offerings.
Garbatrage: A surge in price and trading volume in a sector following a high-profile takeover in that sector as market players expect more takeovers to come (even if there aren’t any such takeovers). Also called “rumortrage.”
Godfather offer: An offer than cannot be refused – typically a tender offer pitched so high that management of the target company is unable to discourage shareholders from accepting it.
Jennifer Lopez: Term to describe what happens when a security reaches a low, then gradually starts to rise. Depicted in graph form, the move shows a curve at the bottom – bringing to mind the singer-actress’ “assets.”
Killer bee: An individual or firm that helps a company fend off a takeover attempt.
Piker: Someone – typically working for a bottom-tier firm – who pretends to know everything about Wall Street but doesn’t actually know anything.
Rust Bowl: Conjuring up images of abandoned factories and rusting vehicles, the term essentially epitomizes catastrophic economic change.
Shark watcher: A firm hired to watch for takeovers by monitoring trading, the accumulation of shares, and any noteworthy activity.
Sleeping beauty: A company that appears prime for takeover but has yet to be approached by a potential acquirer.
Smurf: Money launderer, or one who seeks to evade scrutiny from government agencies by breaking up a transaction involving a large amount of money into smaller transactions that are below the reporting threshold.
Stagflation: Slow economic growth during a time of high unemployment and high inflation.
Suicide pill: A defensive strategy used by acquisition targets in which they make themselves far less attractive to a (usually hostile) takeover. For example: taking on mounts of debt to scare off an acquirer. This can imperil the target company and still not be successful in scaring off a determined acquirer. The suicide pill defense can be viewed as an extreme version of the poison pill.
Sushi bond: A bond issued by a Japanese issuer in a market outside Japan and denominated in a currency other than the yen.
Tip from a dip: Advice from a person who claims to have inside information, such as substantially higher than expected earnings or government approval of corporate mergers, that will materially impact a stock’s price but actually doesn’t.
Tulipmania: This was the first major financial bubble, which peaked in March 1637. Investors began to purchase tulips madly, pushing their prices to unprecedented highs; as prices drastically collapsed over the course of a week, many tulip holders instantly went bankrupt.
Valium picnic: A market holiday when stock and other commercial markets are closed. Also used to denote a slow day.
Whartonite: A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. The term is sometimes used in a derogatory way to describe the perceived character of a typical graduate – namely snobbish.
Zombie debt: A type of bad debt that is so old a person may have forgotten he or she owed it in the first place.
The Bottom Line
Investing can be fun – and fun to talk about, not to mention that knowing the lingo is a handy tool for getting an insider’s perspective – and turning a ‘piker’ into a ‘Whartonite.’