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Waiting and watching the financial markets

Investors the world over, including those here in the Black Belt of Alabama certainly are watching events as they unfold in New York.

Lehman’s filing bankruptcy should have come as no surprise to anyone after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner met with Wall Street executives Friday and said no to a federal bailout.

This move comes after the government seized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mortgage behemoths and in months earlier had brokered the purchase of Bear Stearns & Co. to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

While the short-term effects of Lehman’s filing for Chapter 11 reorganization and Merill Lynch’s buy-out by Bank of America look dire, in the future these investment houses will know not to depend on a government bailout.

It’s hard not to panic, especially when the collapse of Lehman’s and the merger of Merrill Lynch may raise borrowing costs, making credit tighter for the rest of us.

Indeed, this may also slow down bond issues by municipalities, schools and counties across the nation.

Right now, people are sitting and watching.