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Four Black Swans Lurking In Dark


Seismic shifts that could remake financial landscape.


A five-year war and $5 gas are enough to slump the shoulders of even the stoutest populace. Toss in a credit crunch with a vice-like grip and thousands of home foreclosures and you've got a once-proud union with a psychological pandemic on its hands. The unraveling of our collective fortunes -- from Main Street to the Green Zone by way of the Bear Stearns (BSC) viaduct -- promises to weigh heavily on the next tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Five months of good ol' fashioned fist fighting (apologies to Keith Jackson) is all that separates John McCain or Barack Obama from backing up the Mayflower truck next January. Winning the all-important swing states will hinge on either candidate's ability to translate the emotional pulse of the heartland into a strategic framework that can pull this nation up by its boot straps - readying us economically, educationally and ecologically to make the climb out of the surprisingly large hole we find ourselves in.

On this fifth day of June, when the political table has been set for an epic showdown between an upstart visionary from the South Side of Chicago and a decorated war hero from the Sun Belt , it's useful for all of us to pull back from the earnings reports and short trades to appreciate the historical heft of this moment in time.

Number 44 on the presidential scorecard will be asked to chart a courageous, nuanced course through a wildly precarious terrain and face a set of challenges in the first 100 days that would humble -- and potentially hobble -- even the strongest to have called the White House home. Here, in no particular order, are four market-based missives that would remake the financial landscape we now know:

  • Forced to the brink by their failure to anticipate demands for fuel economy, Ford (F) and Chrysler will seek a bailout. Party pressure and an escalating current account deficit means that one of Detroit's Big Three will perish.

  • Buoyed by their tremendous growth in long-haul logistics, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI) will float a proposal -- supported by a majority of Congress -- to "acquire" Amtrak and begin offering commercial service between the ten largest cities.

  • Unable to escape the long shadow from a summer of blackouts across New York, Chicago and Phoenix, the newly appointed Infrastructure czar establishes a modern-day Tennessee Valley Authority (TVE) to oversee power grids across major metropolitan areas.

  • A Google (GOOG) - Apple (AAPL) merger registers an 8.0 on the richter scale. With no apparent relief in antitrust statutes, Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Rupert Murdoch make a personal call to the Oval Office in hopes of preventing the formation of a post-Internet juggernaut.

Therein lies the profound difference of the jagged age in which we live. The presumptive Leader of the Free World has to not only make vital decisions in the clutch, but take the time to consider the "black swans" that lurk in the dark. And to imagine the bold possibilities available to a generation that suddenly believes, once again, in our brave future.

All hail the next chief.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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