“To Be Long”:  Financial Expression of the Day

Fidel long watches

Like El Jefe, many investment bankers go long watches of the flashy variety.

To be long,” verb phrase, used to describe the position of an investor who owns an asset, like a stock or a bond, with the expectation that the asset will increase in value; the opposite of “to be short.”  Because this is a trading floor term and many investment bankers and analysts desperately want to be traders (the latter have better hours and no real requirement to act in a professional manner; if anything crude behavior is encouraged), the i-bankers and number-crunchers twist themselves into knots using this expression in all kinds of half-witted ways (to be fair, those on the trading floors do the same).  An investor might legitimately say, “I am long Amazon.  I bought 5,000 shares on the opening.”  However, those fluent in finance doubletalk don’t limit themselves to such acceptable applications.  For example, an apple-polishing investment banking associate, trying to dress like a foppish managing director in his group, might say to his office mate on the former’s return from Hermès, where he bought five neckties for a disgraceful sum of $975, “Yeah, I went long ties at lunch.”  If the office mate is a normal person, he’ll immediately consider using one of those overpriced French cravats to gag his bootlicking colleague.

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