A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 81: Markets Implode. New Yorkers Shrug.

September 17th · 1 Comment

One day after Lehman Brothers vanished into debt and Merrill Lynch was swallowed whole, I headed out to see whether the sky-is-falling media coverage is translating into a sense of desperation on the streets of New York.

I went for a run on Park Avenue. If anyone is reeling from the $70 billion in lost market value yesterday, it ought to be the bankers and stock traders who live here. But the dads (in ties) walking their children (also in ties) to the local prep schools didn’t look like they’d had a sleepless night. Some looked a little grim. (Of course, the financial types usually look a little grim.)

So I headed down to Wall Street to talk to some traders on lunch break. They didn’t seem all that perturbed either. They sat outside chatting and laughing and chewing on sandwiches, which judging from the traders’ waistlines ought to have been a little smaller. They expressed concern about the macro picture but didn’t fear for their futures.

Then I walked by the Merrill Lynch headquarters to the Motorexpo show, where people gawked in the windows of shiny new Porches and Lincolns. Again, the anguish-meter registered about a 3. “The economy here has a lot of drivers,” a construction executive told me.

Yet, as New York’s Governor David Paterson said Tuesday, the state might lose a billion dollars in tax revenue in the next half-year, and as many as 30,000 Wall Street jobs may disappear. And no one’s hiring. With all the big spenders not spending, who will buy the art, attend the opera, eat at the restaurants and buy the clothes? Who will pay to run the subway and the buses, collect the trash and police the streets?

The last time two huge New York financial institutions collapsed on the same day, it was on 9/11, in a cloud of ash and panic.  From a local’s perspective, no dive in the Dow can match that catastrophe.

Tags: Sights & Scenes · Urban Survival

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 sam iam // Sep 17, 2008 at 5:54 am

    well i’m the representative doomsayer, and i think it’s gonna keep snowballing. It’s all just too perfectly set up, and our present course is unsustainable long term. Therefore, it all has to come crashing down. The question is when. Time is on my side.

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