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Protesters Mass Outside Bear Stearns

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Social acrimony descends on Wall Street

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As protesters yesterday arrived at Bear Stearns (BSC) HQ, we should note that the societal acrimony we've been monitoring continues to manifest. After years of Middle Class squeezage, the "have nots" have clearly had enough. Now the "Haves" are feeling the heat as well, as evidenced by the maidens being thrown into the volcano.

I bring this up as social mood and, by extension, risk appetites continue to shape the tape (not the other way around). Those feelings play themselves out in many ways. I see it in NYC every day as I walk down the street. There are more homeless people. Tempers are short. Horns are honking with greater frequency. I have to be honest... I often wonder why I continue to stay in the epicenter of angst.

This is not a clarion call to get short--that would be too easy. It's simply an effort to increase awareness as we claw our way through the fray. It's clear that the government will socialize risk as long as they can and as much as they have to. What remains to be seen is where the tipping point is, both in terms of perceived credibility and structural integrity.

These are indeed interesting--and particularly scary--times. Perhaps that's what makes a wall of worry work. My fear, however, is that while Bear Stearns might have been "A" bottom, it may also serve as a start.

Deep breath all. Lucidity is an increasingly rare commodity.

R.P.
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