The Wall Street Bull – an eleven foot-tall bronze statue – was an unsolicited and (initially) unwelcomed gift. The charging bull’s creator, Arturo Di Modica, installed it one night in 1989 underneath the New York Stock Exchange’s Christmas tree. The next day, the chairman of the NYSE called the police and had it removed. Now it stands two blocks away as one of New York’s landmark sculptures.
The bull is traditionally a symbol of a strong market, the bear (obviously) of a falling one. So no surprise then that the China Securities Regulatory Commission was spooked when two equally unsolicited bears suddenly appeared outside its headquarters.
The statues were versions of two characters from a Chinese cartoon, Boonie Bears, and were installed by a shopping mall in Beijing’s Financial Street as a promotion during Children’s Day, held on June 1. Unfortunately for the mall, it sits directly opposite the CSRC.
The bears’ posture signalled they were in the act of being photographed. One crossed his arms in wry disapproval while the other pointed to the air in celebratory fashion. The latter proved to be more irksome for the CRSC, as Beijing Youth Daily reports the Commission’s top staff believed the animal was raising its middle fingers to their offices. Officials then called to complain about the “impolite hand gesture”.
But the organiser of the promotion contested that lewd interpretation, noting, “The bear only has four fingers, so how could it be raising its middle one?” Nevertheless, the statues were soon removed.
Since last summer’s stock market rout, the CSRC has been touchy about anything that might move markets unexpectedly. The bear statues appear to have fallen into that category, especially when netizens began to joke about them online. “Finally, we’ve found the real cause of the stock market downturn,” was a popular quip.
Others chose not to see the funny side, simply stating, “These rotten stock exchange people are too sensitive”.
That said, China’s exchanges haven’t had much more luck with statues of bulls either. Caixin Weekly remembers that the Shanghai Stock Exchange commissioned a six-tonne copper bull in 2010 for its atrium, but still a bearish market persisted. Someone then speculated that keeping the statue indoors was symbolic of constraining the bull and if they wanted it to run they’d have to move it outside.
Eventually in 2012 it was duly relocated outdoors. But unfortunately for the bull that left it open to vandalism. Later that year a vigilante geomancer spray-painted it red – a lucky colour in Chinese culture. Not that it boosted the A-share market, which stayed sluggish for another couple of years.
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