Trading Terms – Bears, Bulls, Hawks, And Doves

Understanding important trading terms is an essential skill of any successful binary options trader. This article explains four of the most important terms – bullish and bearish, and dovish and hawkish.

  • What Do Bullish and Bearish Mean?
  • How Can I Trade Bullish And Bearish With Binary Options?
  • What Do Dovish and Hawkish Mean?
  • How Can I Trade Dovish and Hawkish With Binary Options?

With this knowledge, you will understand what financial experts mean when they talk about these terms, and how you can use these trading terms – and associated sentiment – with binary options.

What Do Bullish and Bearish Mean?

The terms bullish and bearish define whether traders think that prices of an asset will rise or fall in the future. They are also used in hindsight to describe rising or falling markets. They are common trading terms in the written press.

  • Bullish: When traders are bullish about an asset, they believe that its price will rise. Bull markets feature rising prices.
  • Bearish: When traders are bearish about an asset, they believe that its price will fall. Bear markets feature falling prices.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the market was bearish. The Dow Jones lost more than half of its points, and stocks indexes around the world fared similarly tough losses. Since then, the market was bullish again, rising to new record heights.

How Can I Trade Bullish And Bearish Sentiment?

For binary options traders, bullish and bearish are important terms. The simplest way of connecting the terms to your trading is this:

  • Invest in rising prices during bull markets and when traders are bullish about an asset.
  • Invest in falling prices during bear markets and when traders are bearish about an asset.

There are a few ways in which you can do this:

  1. Read the news. The news is a good source to understand how traders feel. There are plenty of interviews with traders and even specialised trading magazines, but you can also read the regular news and connect the dots for yourself. When a company faces legal struggles, traders are probably bearish; when a company posted record profits, traders are probably bullish.
  2. Subscribe to a newsletter. There are special newsletters that tell you how traders feel about the market. For example, when a big analyst recommends to buy or sell a stock (because they are bullish or bearish for that stock), these newsletters will tell you about it. You can then trade the effects of the recommendation with binary options.
  3. Use technical indicators. There are technical indicators such as the bulls and bears indicators that aggregate the information of how traders feel about the market. Some of them use mathematical calculations based on price action, some evaluate multiple newsletters and compare positive to negative recommendations. The absolute values of these indicators and their changes over time can tell you where the market will go.

These sources can tell you how traders feel about the market. There is also another type of technical indicator that measures bullish and bearish momentum indirectly – oscillators.

Technical indicators such as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) relate the numbers of assets bought to assets sold. Their goal is to understand whether money is flowing into an asset or out of it. They help you understand how traders feel about an asset without having to ask every trader for yourself.

These indicators also help you understand an ironic twist: when traders are too bullish or too bearish, they will often cause the exact opposite of what they intend. For example, when all traders are bullish about an asset, soon all of them will have invested in the asset. Now there is one left to buy, but some of the many traders who have bought will think about selling. The result is a surplus of demand, and the price will fall – despite an overwhelmingly bullish market.

Bullish and bearish are great indications for what you should do. But when everyone is bullish or bearish, be careful.

What Do Dovish and Hawkish Mean?

Dovish and hawkish are terms that describe a government’s fiscal policy. Like bullish and bearish, they describe opposites, but this time opposites of fiscal policy.

  • Dovish: Dovish describes an expansive fiscal policy. Low interest rates make credits cheap and savings unprofitable, an increasing government debt creates new money. Both effects combine to flood the market with money. Central banks usually act dovish when they want to stimulate economic growth but accept the downside of increasing inflation.
  • Hawkish: Hawkish describes a restrictive fiscal policy. Higher interest rates make credits expensive and savings profitable, reduced government debt reduced the amount of available money. Both effects combined take money out of the market. Central banks usually act hawkish when they want to fight inflation but accept the downside of limiting economic growth.

After the great crisis of 1923, governments reacted hawkish, trying to save as much money as possible. After the crisis of 2008, governments reacted dovish, trying to stimulate economic growth through debt and low base rates.

How Can I Trade Dovish and Hawkish Sentiment?

To understand how a hawkish and a dovish fiscal policy affect binary options traders, consider the effects of both policies.

A dovish fiscal policy will push the market up

When the government floods the market with money while at the same time making savings unprofitable, this money has to go somewhere. Many people will invest it in stocks, which are the only viable investment option left. Additionally, the high amount of available money will increase economic demand, which will enable companies to post record earnings.

The increasing inflation also that the stock market has to rise significantly. When the price of bread rises from £1 to £2, the price of a stock that used to trade at £100 has to rise to £200 just to reflect the decreasing purchasing power of the currency. For example, when the price of a Coke doubles, the profit of Coca-Cola will double, too. Even if the company does not become more valuable, the same value will now be expressed by a price twice as high.

Combined, the stock market will rise for as long as the dovish fiscal policy remains in place.

A hawkish fiscal policy limits economic growth

When a government acts hawkish, it causes the opposite effects of a dovish fiscal policy. It limits inflation, which means that stocks have to rise less to reflect the decreasing purchasing power. It also takes money out of the market and makes savings more attractive, which is why people will have less to invest and prefer other investments over stocks. Combined, the stock market run will lose energy.

Now, none of that is to say that a hawkish fiscal policy will be bad for the economy or crash the markets. In a well-functioning economy, central banks must act hawkish to some degree to prevent uncontrolled inflation, poverty, and other disastrous effects. This is why the market can keep rising during hawkish areas of fiscal policy.

How To Trade Dovish And Hawkish Fiscal Policies

The important point is that stock traders will always prefer a hawkish fiscal policy because it pushes stock prices further than a dovish fiscal policy. They care about stock prices, not smart policies. In is an important trading term.

Binary options traders have to understand this connection and trade accordingly. Binary options traders can trade the effects of both policies directly by investing in long-term binary options. These options have expiries of months and years, which allows you to take advantage of such fundamental market influences as fiscal policy.

We recommend using them for market indexes instead of single stocks. Single stocks are subject to many other influences, for example good or bad management and technological progress. They might fall despite an expansive fiscal policy. The market as a whole, however, must react to fiscal policy. When the market is flooded with money, this money must go somewhere. The stock index will reflect this unavoidable connection and rise.

You can also trade the market’s reaction to the announcement that reports changes in a government’s fiscal policy. Most traders understand the connection between a dovish/hawkish fiscal policy and future stock prices, which is why they immediately invest in anticipation of its effects when a central bank changes its base rate or a government plans to make more debt.


Understanding whether a government acts dovish or hawkish allows you to predict what will happen to the market next. Bearish and bullish are terms that describe how markets behaved in the past, and whether traders expect rising or falling prices in the future.

Both types of terms are important for binary options traders and can be the basis of your strategy. Properly understand and correctly interpreted, they provide certain predictions and a deeper understanding of the forces that drive the market.