Wall Street

Each week, “Joe the Trader” chronicles his experiences with life after Wall Street.

suit“Where have you gone Gordon Gecko? Wall Street turns its lonely eyes to you. Oooh hoo oooh…” I found myself making up words to Simon and Garfunkle’s “Mrs. Robinson” as I walked to my local coffee shop for another He-Man’s Unemployment Club meeting. Increasingly it seems to me that the current financial crisis is going to be a seminal event in the culture of our nation.

The jury may still be out on broad societal shifts, but the public quickly volunteered to be judge, jury and executioner for the Wall Street fat cats. Even in the halcyon days of 2006, Wall Street guys were called douchebags. I imagine it won’t be long before John Thain, Dick Fuld and their army of financial engineers will be wandering Gitmo in orange suits.

Each week, “Joe the Trader” chronicles his experiences with life after Wall Street.

businessman in apronOkay, so I could have picked up the laundry, I could have dealt with the recycling piling up in the kitchen, I could have bought a tarp for the air conditioner so it doesn’t rust sitting outside on the porch. But I didn’t. That’s right: I chose not to do the three things my lady asked me to do. Time slipped away, I claimed, when she asked what the hell I’d done all day. Through repeated questioning, I maintained my innocence, highlighting all of the “important” networking calls I had made. But between us, dear reader, the truth is I was in my giraffe boxer shorts most of the day talking to my “important” contacts about my upcoming ski trip. And what did my lady do all day? You guessed it: She went to work.

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highball cocktailThe Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to a six-year low yesterday and has sunk lower today, which would seem to be bad news any way you cut it. Even smart equity bargain-hunters we know are staying away, saying they have no feel for where the bottom of the market is.

There are small (very small) advantages to a down index, though. Restaurants and bars around the country have tied their prices to the stock market as a recession marketing tool. You’ve probably stopped checking your 401(k) balance, but on days when you know it’s taken a dive, you can drown your sorrows in cheap food and drink. Caveat: Since most of these joints are trying to drum up business during off-hours, you might have to start as trading ends.

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Recession Briefing 2.19

by Laura Rich on February 19, 2009 in News

What you need to know today to survive and thrive in the recession.

safe, bedKeep your money under the mattress (The Deal)
One company has created a mattress with a built-in safe to help you sleep easier.

Do you qualify for a mortgage bailout? (Business Week)
If your total monthly home payments (interest, principal and taxes) are greater than 31% of your monthly, pre-tax income you may qualify for help under the president’s $275 billion plan. Meanwhile, Portfolio.com’s Felix Salmon likes what he sees in the plan. (Market Movers)

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Plane Folly

by Sara Clemence on February 18, 2009 in Money,News

Money Plane CrashThis year, Stephen Schwarzman’s birthday was a much more modest affair than in 2007, when he cemented his position as poster child for hedge fund excess. His 60th birthday bash was said to have cost $3 million and included a performance by Rod Stewart.

Yesterday, we’re told, Blackstone Group employees were invited to a giant boardroom for a brief roast and some cake. But it wasn’t all humble pie. Huge flat-screens in the rooms displayed the birthday invitation—a map showing the many miles Schwarzman had traveled in the last year, complete with cute little pictures of private planes.

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Each week, “Joe the Trader” chronicles his experiences with life after Wall Street.

businessman on hay baleThe first time I ever heard about F*@# You Money, I was a young economic researcher in the government, getting paid shit. I remember thinking, could these Wall Street guys be any more vulgar? Not only was the amount of money they made offensive, but the ultimate measure of success was in fact an expletive. However, by the time I reached Wall Street, after a few years of government wages and a couple more struggling through most of a doctoral program, I was willing to accept a little more vulgarity. In fact, I embraced the idea of F@&* You Money.

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Recession Briefing 2.16

by Sara Clemence on February 16, 2009 in Money,News

What you need to know today to survive and thrive in the recession.

anna-wintourAnna Wintour: “Value is In” (WSJ)
When the editor of Vogue rails against consumerism, the economy must be in a tailspin.

Job Losses Pose a Threat to Stability Worldwide (NY Times)
Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009. High unemployment rates have led to protests in countries as varied as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in Britain and France.

White House Dampens Stimulus Expectations (Reuters)
Aides warned Americans on Sunday not to expect instant miracles from the $787 billion economic stimulus bill he will sign this week, but said it would help eventually.

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Recession Briefing 2.13

by Sara Clemence on February 13, 2009 in News

What you need to know today to survive and thrive in the recession.

Man pointing25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis (Time)
Picks for the top 25 people to blame for the financial crisis includes everyone from former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and former President George W. Bush to the former CEO of Merrill Lynch and you–the American consumer.

No One Home: 1 in 9 Vacant (USA Today)
The surge in empty houses, condominiums and apartments is creating a wave of problems for communities desperate to shore up property values and tax revenues that pay for services.

Obama Wants to Pay Mortgages? (Reuters)
In a major break from existing aid programs, the plan under consideration would seek to help homeowners before they fall into arrears on their loans. Current programs only assist borrowers that are already delinquent.

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Paid Testimony: Update

by Sara Clemence on February 12, 2009 in News

White Out CorrectionYesterday, I estimated how much the eight bank C.E.O.s who testified in Congress were making for the day, using what I thought were the latest numbers. Turns out, I missed them being asked about their 2008 pay during the seven hours of questioning. (See video at The Business Insider.) So here’s an update.

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Recession Briefing 2.12

by Sara Clemence on February 12, 2009 in News

What you need to know today to survive and thrive in the recession.Heart of Pennies
The Recession. Isn’t It Romantic? (NY Times)
Online and offline matchmakers are reporting that dating interest is up, way up. Match.com, for instance, had its strongest fourth quarter in the last seven years.

Lawmakers Pull Few Punches With Bank Executives
(WSJ)
Chief executives at eight banks and securities firms that have gotten $165 billion in federal aid were barraged by U.S. lawmakers, who showed little patience for a charm offensive aimed at defusing ire over pay and lending.

The Fools on the Hill (Daily Beast)
The CEOs of the major banks may not have looked like captains of the universe yesterday, but the House committee was a major embarrassment as well. Does anyone actually want to solve this crisis?

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