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Random Thoughts: Old Issues and New Beginnings


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A wise man once said that if enough people tell you that you're drunk, you better go lay down. As I prepared myself for last Tuesday, many of my friends with children communicated a similarly persistent theme: You may think you know what you're in for, but you have no idea-in fact, you better lay down while you can!

At 8:10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 17, I walked into the operating room at Mt. Sinai Hospital to join Jamie for her scheduled cesarean section. We were ready; after months of waiting and years of anticipation, the stage was set for the birth of our daughter. She would be my first child and her third, following two terrific seven-year-old twins, a boy and girl.

I assumed my position next to Jamie's head, held her hand and whispered encouragement in her ear. While I was nervous, I wasn't about to show it. Besides, there had already been positive signs; when we first found out about the pregnancy, the amniocentesis was scheduled on December 7, which was my grandfather Ruby's birthday. Further, May 17 was already a special day; it was my "brother" Joel's birthday.

About 15 minutes into the procedure, the doctor told Jamie she would feel intense pressure on her abdomen; the tension was thick as our eyes connected-I felt the energy begin to build. At that very moment, I told her how awesome her hair looked; she had spent the previous night manicuring her coiffure, and it was the perfect segue to a quick smile.

"Thank God you got your hair done," I said with a smile as her cries turned into a belly-laugh, "I couldn't imagine what you would look like right now if you didn't blow it out."

I know I'm not always funny-but that was funny. In fact, as Jamie and I laughed through the pressure, we were reprimanded by the surgeon. "STOP LAUGHING," he barked, "Todd-stop it, please!" Yes, you're reading this right- I was "shushed" by the delivering doctor, although I'm proud to report that our child was surrounded by love and laughter as she entered existence.

Three minutes later, I heard the most beautiful sound I've ever experienced. At six pounds, 13 ounces and 19 ¾", Ruby Jett Harrison arrived into this wild world.

I was later informed that at the time of her arrival, 8:28 a.m., the skies above Manhattan opened with a thunderous roar as an electrical storm passed through over the city. I wasn't aware of that, or anything else. While I've rarely "turned off" the tape during my 20-year career, I can safely say that the financial markets were the last thing on my mind last week.

I will share two quick thoughts before turning my attention back to our task at hand; the first is a story, the second is a realization.

When my grandfather Ruby passed in 2001, a funny thing happened every time I traveled: A black bird would appear the first day I arrived at my destination.

Now, I know that if you look hard enough, you can see anything you're trying to-but I'm talking about a black bird sitting on my rental car, standing on my patio, flying to my meal table-every time, on the first day. It was as if my grandfather was there to make sure I arrived safely, or at least that was my take.

Unbeknownst to me as Jamie delivered, an old friend, Marc Cohodes, posted a picture on my Facebook page of his black hen giving birth, and endeavored to call the chicks Ruby Jett, after my daughter. I didn't put much thought to that when I first saw it but the next day it hit me-there was the black bird; there was my grandfather, making sure my "arrival" was smooth.

The second thought? That's easy. While I'm a massive animal lover, I can say one thing with absolute confidence-this is so much better than a cat!

Random thoughts:
  • When we last connected, S&P 1340 was the level of lore for traders galore and while last week was effectively a "push," this morning's gap lower threatens to remove an important upside technical catalyst.

  • That metric, coupled with the "lower highs" by the previous leaders: Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Goldman (GS), JPMorgan (JPM), the not-so-sweet-16 VXO and-oh yeah-the sovereign debt situation.

  • Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Greece and Italy are all cranky this morning, and the US CDS are tickling a 52-week high; that's cause for pause, particularly after the run we've had.

  • The bull case, because we always try to see both sides? The bend-not-break mentality in the marketplace, the "rotation rather than migration" price action and the still-buff corporate credit markets, which suggest that LinkedIn (LKND) may be emulated elsewhere before the dust settles.

  • For the four-letter freaks, keep your eyes peeled to NDX 2325ish, which is both the 50-day moving average and the uptrend line. And remember, technical analysis is a better context than catalyst.

    Click to enlarge

  • Should we expand our "Short-Sale" list to include foreign diplomats?

  • It typically takes me a few days to regain my rhythm after a few days away; I will, as always, be updating my posture in real time on the Buzz & Banter.

  • The Other Side of Wall Street has begun shipping! It's available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and other outlets. I will simply ask for the respect of your honesty, both in the direct feedback and the reviews online (which evidently matter). Any help in spreading the word is appreciated-after all, a girl's gotta eat!

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