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Todd Harrison: A perilous time to lead



The leaders coming out of a crisis are rarely the same as those who enter it.

That's true for corporate America and folks high on the societal pedestal.
In summer 2007, Minyanville asked if the fall of icons such as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears was indicative of the shifting social mood and whether it might be predictive for financial markets.

The notion seems silly; the obsession with starlets couldn't be further removed from Wall Street. We asked the question, however, because social mood shapes financial markets; sure enough, stocks cascaded lower a few months later.

A chasm of discord has again emerged in society, given the friction between Main Street and Wall Street. Moreover, high-profile collapses like Jon Corzine's MF Global - which could land him in jail if a probe shows he authorized the improper use of customer money - are eerily consistent with that same mindset.

Let's think about this - there is pushback against big business, a tea party in Middle America, riots in Europe, uprisings in the Middle East and posturing by the Far East. If we don't get our arms around this, a big arrow is pointing toward war.

While public psychology can be manipulated, free will cannot be caged, and the attendant social mood shapes behavioral patterns - and our financial decision-making. This dynamic is cumulative, and it's been building for a long time.

There's no shame in admitting times are tough; recognizing a problem is the first step toward solving it. As we edge though this age of austerity, navigate the complex societal structure and find our way to better days, I will simply offer to those who aspire to be rich and famous that they should be careful for what they wish.


Todd Harrison is the author of “The Other Side of Wall Street” and the founder and CEO of Minyanville, an Emmy Award-winning financial media platform. Read him daily at

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