Pulling In Their Horns

DEFINITION of 'Pulling In Their Horns'

A collective shift by investors toward a less bullish stance after a substantial run-up in prices of financial assets. Since it involves a lesser degree of buying by investors, or even active selling by them, asset prices generally decline as investors pull in their horns in favor of a more bearish stance.

BREAKING DOWN 'Pulling In Their Horns'

The phrase is reportedly derived from the fact that because an upward market is called a bull market, investors "pulling in their horns" denotes a more cautious approach than rampant bullishness.

This change can either be a temporary phase, as investors re-enter the market after a price decline, or it may be the precursor to a protracted decline. In extreme cases when asset prices have increased especially sharply and valuations are extended, the period when investors pull in their horns may be the first sign of a impending bear market.