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Random Thoughts: The Police State of New York


Social mood phones home.

It was a dark, dreary night in Manhattan when I decided to leave my office last night. After a full 12 hours at my post, I had finally chewed through my long list of to-do's and set my sights on the important stuff. I'm not complaining; being busy is entirely better than the alternative, and I know how lucky I am to be doing what I love with people I respect while serving the greater good.

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.

Random Thoughts:
  • 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)


Twitter: @todd_harrison

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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

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