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Seems Like Old Times!

By

Using history as a market guide.

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Back then, corporate malfeasance was the root of rage. Today, hedge funds are perceived to be an acceptable casualty of war.

Back then, we had venture capitalism and private equity. Today, we have an alphabet soup of government-sponsored acronyms.

Back then, we rationalized dot.com valuations. Today, we rationalize debt levels and push the bar tab to our children.

Back then, Nobel Prize winners were held to task. Today, Goldman Sachs (GS) is in the populist crosshairs and politicians are fielding death threats

Back then, society succumbed to the sexy sirens of Wall Street wealth. Today, there's a rush to disassociate from all things financial.

Back then, the FOMC walked the tightrope. Today, they're fitting a noose.

Back then, the bears were scared. Today, they're hibernating.

Back then, we had a financed-based economy. Today, we have a finance-dependent economy.

Back then, many were looking for a better job. Today, almost one-in-five is underemployed.

Back then, Gordon Gekko was a financial icon. Today, he's coming soon to a theater near you.

Back then, we saw a fear of missing. Today, there is just plain fear.

There are numerous threads between the decades but perhaps the truest extension is one of longing. After bubbles and busts and synthetic booms still, regardless of price and no matter the time, nobody seems to be where they wish or have what they want. Some feel cheated; many are forlorn.

The irony of our current quest is that those who preserved capital and saved for the future were punished by fiscal and monetary policy; the stock market, once a proxy of innovation, morphed into a matter of national security. In the process, we've lost more than our innocence, we've lost our way.

Perhaps twisted manipulation has existed since the beginning of time and I'm late to the game in noting it now. But as someone who has lived on both sides of the tracks, I can relate to the indifference of deep pockets and empathize with those forced to make difficult decisions. See Memoirs of a Minyan.

Ironically, both ends of our societal spectrum share a common characteristic; they pine for a bigger piece of the American pie, with the have-nots aspiring to be haves and the haves always wanting to have more. It's no longer a question of relative standing, however; for many, it's a matter of financial survival.

Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same but this time, battle lines are being drawn and patience is wearing thin. As social mood shapes financial markets and society is a sum of the parts, we must respect this seemingly amorphous dynamic as we together find our way.

R.P.
Position in S&P
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