Wall of worry is an informal expression often used in financial jargon to refer to:

  • a market uptrend that occurs when there is significant uncertainty about its sustainability. For example, if the market is concerned about potential, new regulations or the possibility of recession but stocks increase anyway, this is called climbing a wall of worry. Price correction often follows a wall of worry.

  • According to investorwords the expression wall of worry was coined in the 1950's

There is a lot of material on the web regarding the meaning of this curious expression, but I could not find anything about its possible origin.


Is "wall of worry" just a new expression invented by imaginative financial brokers, or was it taken from another source (historical, literary or biblical for instance )?

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Some light might be shed on the origin of “climbs a wall of worry” by its complementary proverb:

An old Wall Street proverb says that the stock market “climbs a wall of worry” to march into bullish territory. An opposite proverb is “Bear markets slide down a slope of hope.”

Material on this site expounds further:

If bull markets climb up a wall of worry, then bear markets slide down a slope of hope. A bull, or rising, market often begins in an atmosphere of gloom and skepticism when all sorts of reasons why prices should not rise prevail. The majority of market participants are bearish, thinking that prices will fall. On the other hand, when a bear market starts and prices begin falling, it is often in an overwhelming spirit of hope and optimism. The majority expects prices to rise.

So it seems that the wall of worry and the slope of hope are (surprisingly fanciful) imaginings of the pessimism that must be overcome for a bull market to rise on the one hand, and the misplaced optimism that greases the skids for a bear market's fall on the other.

  • Curiously "slope of hope" does not appear in Ngram: books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Mar 9 '16 at 22:04
  • Perhaps "slope of hope" never appeared in print? The phrase seems to date from 1990, when there was already an Internet of sorts around. (Certainly BBSes and other online services.) Or perhaps not in the sorts of books used in the NGram database. – Gnawme Mar 9 '16 at 22:24
  • @Josh61 But it gets 8.2 million hits on Google. – bib Mar 9 '16 at 22:34
  • In the Help Center’s section on “How to reference material written by others” is found: When you find a useful resource that can help answer a question (from another site or in an answer on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange) make sure you do all of the following: Provide a link to the original page or answer // Quote only the relevant portion // Provide the name of the original author. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 9 '16 at 23:04

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