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Occupy Southampton Arrives With a Whisper


Societal acrimony summers in the East End.


Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.

It was Saturday night in Southampton, the small town on the East End where our kids are living while we await completion of our new home. After spending the day in NYC to celebrate the marriage of close friends, my fiancée Jamie and I arrived back to our sleepy twins around 9:00 p.m. Rather than usher them to bed as they expected, we called an audible and took them for some ice cream. It was a popular move; one of those patented memories that will help define the summer of 2012.

We arrived in town, found a parking spot, and strolled toward Carvel. The streets were littered with the usual crowd: Families finishing up dinner; young men and women dressed to the nines and hoping to find a significant other, if only for the night; and young teens making their way up and down Main Street, giggling at everything and nothing. The mood was somewhere between innocent and quaint, with a sprinkle of mischief for good measure.

As we walked and talked and caught up with each other after a day apart, we noticed a crowd gathered across the street in front of JPMorgan Chase (JPM). Some were taking pictures; police were standing guard as four or five individuals held banners and signs denouncing the wealth around them. One of them read, "Enjoy your riches while the rest of us suffer." The twins, eight and a half years old, asked what they were doing, and I told them they were protesting. I looked down and saw them trying to understand.

"What makes this country great," I explained, "is that Americans have the freedom of speech guaranteed by the United States Constitution." "I learned about this in school!" said Morgan, the girl. Gavin, piecing the conversation together, said, "So I can walk up to them and say anything I want?" "Well, not really," I said, picking my words carefully, "Those are manners, not law. They're peacefully expressing their views; tolerance is a very important quality in life."

We approached our car, bringing our Saturday night stroll to an end. I turned to find the protesters approaching us from behind. The kids, who are excited to move to the suburbs in large part because Occupy Wall Street (which lived down the street from their school) frightened them, became visibly nervous. I ushered them into our car as several protesters walked by, eyeing us and making comments as they passed. I thought about the fragile line that separated us; I thought about the societal acrimony we've discussed for years in Minyanville.

We'll discuss the latest happenings in Europe, the state of US equities, and advantageous risk-reward on the Buzz & Banter (click here for a free two-week trial) as we do each day. As we're apt to say, however, social mood and risk appetites shape financial conditions and I would be remiss if I didn't share this experience as we together find our way.

Random Thoughts:
  • Speaking of JPMorgan Chase, I closed out my long position on Friday after I bought the stock on Thursday for a quick trade into earnings. I continue to operate surgically in this environment, as this tape is not to be trusted.
  • While headline risk continues to dominate each overnight session, the bulls can claim higher lows and higher highs (technically constructive) as we fire up our jets for a fresh five-session set. If and when they push the S&P toward 1400, I would likely fade (read: short) the tape for a trade.
  • Angela Merkel again talked tough over the weekend, while communicating that she will seek to re-up her Chancellorship next year. That, coupled with vernacular from the ECB that they will no longer oppose imposing losses on senior bondholders of euro-area banks, is weighing on the early Monday morning mood.
  • LIBOR rate-fixing, Facebook (FB) IPO snookering, 1000-point flash crashes, and a multitude of bubbles and busts that are punishing investors at the top and skewering savers at the bottom. Is there any wonder why Main Street no longer trusts Wall Street?
  • When Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) were trading at the same level about a month ago, we offered that the spread between their stock prices could diverge to the tune of $50. With the spread now at $30, the easy trade has likely passed but I still sense that Google could trade to $522.
  • On a closing note, I'm excited for our monthly Buzz & Banter Fireside Chat -- our fancy term for an interactive webinar -- this Wednesday. I'll be joined by Minyanville contributors Mark Dow and Peter Tchir to discuss the European financial crisis and earnings season back here in the US.
  • If you aren't already a subscriber to the Buzz & Banter, take a free trial today and get the skinny on Europe in this exclusive new feature that isn't available anywhere else.

Twitter: @todd_harrison

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