Random Thoughts: The Police State of New York
Social mood phones home.
It was raining but I didn’t care; I had my Oakland Raiders baseball cap pulled tightly on my head and wore a warm, oversized Bear Stearns fleece that I was given at an idea dinner in their executive boardroom the night before the first phase of the credit crisis consumed that once-noble financial institution.
I’ve never been one to mind the rain; I find it cleansing, almost purifying.
As I edged north and turned the corner, my eyes suddenly squinted at the flashing red lights; there were cops everywhere, and one of them had a man pinned face first against a brick wall. My first instinct was to cross the street but there was too much traffic. I continued forward, my eyes darting left and right; a few police officers sized me up and down to gauge whether I was a threat.
For many, a scene like this is no big deal; it's the price you pay for living in a big, metropolitan city. To me, someone who believes that signs surround us daily if we just pay attention, it was another proof point of the continued deterioration of social mood; my first thought was a familiar one—I need to move my family out of New York City.
To be clear, I’m not a fair-weather fan of New York City. I’ve lived in the belly of the beast for over 20 years and seen my fair share of grisly scenes. I didn’t pull the plug after 9/11, didn’t bolt after the blackouts and never thought I would leave the immediate gratification of having the best food at my fingertips, Broadway plays a cab ride away, downtown lounges if the mood struck and big-time sports wrapped within a tiny island. That was, of course, until I had a family.
I’ve written about the potential ramifications of the shifting social mood for the better part of 10 years. I’m empathetic to the self-proclaimed 99% and emphatically believe not everyone on Wall Street is evil and some are even trying to be part of the solution. I’m a card-carrying free-market capitalist who feels like he’s living in the past; the markets haven’t been free for years, and at our current pace, I’m unsure if or when they will be again.
A little over a month ago, with Gold at $1,900, I wrote an article, Is the Gold Bubble About to Pop? The following day, based not only on the volume but the tenor of the feedback, I shared a vibe called The Gold Scold that noted the vitriolic pushback I received for using “gold” and “bubble” in the same sentence. That spoke volumes, and the yellow metal traded almost 20% lower the following weeks.
I bring that up for a reason. When I wrote that column this week regarding the enormity of the economic condition and the ramifications of our rapidly shifting social mood—the cumulative imbalances and its collective toll—it was shared in the context of education; to understand where we are, we must appreciate how we got here, and we’ve been talking about it for a long time.
The takeaway—at least for me—was the venomous reaction from both sides of the proverbial aisle. The left accused me of being part of the Wall Street machine and the right called me a tree hugger. Sticks and stones, I know, but the reaction to news is always more important than the news itself, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share the heightened state of anxiety given that social mood and risk appetites shape financial markets.
- If Europe does finds a comprehensive "solution" (Euro Bonds or another vehicle to push obligations into the future), how long will it take before credit bears set their sites stateside?
- Are you checking the stealth slippage in the metals while reminding yourself that commodity volatility typically precedes equity movement?
- Are you ready for some football?
Do you see Intel (INTC) probing an uber-important technical level that goes back four years? (Click chart enlarge)
- This stretch, in my view, is entirely more profound than The Great Depression; FDR didn't know what a derivative was). This article does a nice job of putting some meat to that bone.
- Why didn't the naked CDS ban have more bang for its buck? Under the terms of the deal—investors with financial contracts or a portfolio of assets that are judged to be "correlated" to the value of the sovereign debt will still be permitted to purchase the credit insurance (hat tip Professor Metro).
- We're starting to see the "dollar vs. everything else" correlation again.
- Top-tier trading tells include Apple (AAPL) (great companies don’t always make for great stocks), Deutsche Bank (DB) and Barclays (BCS) as overseas financial proxies, and Goldman (GS) on the back of earnings (watch for the vaunted insider window to open).
- Speaking of nonsensical dynamics, Turnaround Tuesday is almost as uncanny as The Crash Indicator.
- Don't get emotional, Minyans; emotion is the enemy when trading.
- Two quick housekeeping notes: I’m leaving tonight to take my newborn Ruby to Florida to meet her great grandmother Dorothy (who was married to the original Ruby for 59 years) and will be out-of-pocket tomorrow. Also, please lock your spot for Festivus—it’s coming up quick on December 2, and it looks like we’ll again sell out the soiree. It’s for the kids, and it’s for our community; come one, come all and bring your best smiles!
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Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at email@example.com.
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