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Five Things You Need to Know: The Big Fed Protest


While Wall Street wizards fiddle on Capitol Hill, the mother of all protests is about to go down.


Between Manhattan and Reality, a Pork Rind Sculpture... The Big Fed Protest... Ray Jay the Last Man Standing?... Beating the Populist Drum... Caught Between Cheerleaders and Vandals...

"The financial crisis on Wall Street has New York's well-to-do reeling. The people who fuel the area's economy with their spending on art, fashion, cars, restaurants, plastic surgery and other luxe goods and services are starting to cut back once-lavish budgets. As a result, those who cater to their every whim -- from nanny agencies to jewelers to yacht builders -- are seeing clients tighten their belts on expenses from the millions to the thousands."
- By Ellen Gamerman, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan and Francine Schwadel in Sep. 20, 2008, Wall Street Journal

Normal people in normal towns across the country will read that paragraph from a Wall Street Journal article a few days ago and find it impossible to grasp. Yacht builders? Nanny agencies? Plastic surgery addicts? What can this mean? For them, for normal people, the average American Out There in or around one of the 2,305 rural counties that make up 83% of this country's land, it's like trying to comprehend a pork rind sculpture centered in a field of crop circles.

But for New York City residents, Manhattanites in particular, there are no fewer than 237 separate calculations that have concluded by the time those three sentences have been read. This kind of high-powered, Manhattan number crunching will include everything from the looming cost per square foot discount for a loft apartment in Tribeca to the markdown on a pre-owned 200 horsepower Mercury Optimax outboard boat motor.

There is actually a high amount of science involved in the art of striving among a city of strivers, but it is so omnipresent that the never-ending computations are what eventually drive all city-dwellers over the edge into what manifests in the Winners as freakish eccentricity and the Losers as pure, hair-tearing insanity.

The Big Fed Protest

Unfortunately, there are a lot of Losers bobbing to the surfacing in the wake of this Debt Crisis. This is the point I was trying to make to anyone within earshot around 6 o'clock yesterday while tucked into a pub on Maiden Lane waiting for The Big Fed Protest to kick off.

At 5 p.m. sharp the Greater New York City Campaign for Liberty was planning to storm the New York Federal Reserve with a thunderous protest that would once and for all send the craven bureaucrats at the world's largest private bank scurrying for cover like field mice chased by a bush hog. Yes, this was going to be It. The mother of all protests.

Unlike rural America that has yet to come to grips with the collapse of Wall Street's investment banking structure, the ability of the New York City-dweller to rapidly calculate the spiraling cost of the inevitable bailout places us squarely on the forefront of the diminishing equity curve. Even though I was merely there as an observer, a documentarian, to capture the impact of this transformative event, I could feel the buzz in the air. And I'm not embarrassed to say I was beginning to embrace it. Why not? Why not rattle the cages a bit? Why not shake the vermin to their very core?

(NEXT PAGE: Stoking the fire of an angry crowd...)

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