Wall Street Jobs Drying Up: American Era Ending

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by ByLoSellHi, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/18/opinion/18cohen.html


    September 17, 2008

    They’re listening to Coldplay down on Wall Street:

    I used to rule the world
    Seas would rise when I gave the word
    Now in the morning I sleep alone
    Sweep the streets I used to own

    The leverage party’s over for the masters of the universe. Shed a tear. When you trade pieces of paper for other pieces of paper instead of trading them for real things, one day someone wakes up and realizes the paper’s worth nothing. And Lehman Brothers, after 158 years, has gone poof in the night.

    We’re witnessing the passing of more than a venerable firm. We’re seeing the death of a culture.

    For years, accountants, rating agencies and Wall Street executives decided to shoot craps and collect fees. Regulators, taking their cue from a distracted President Bush, took a nap. The two M’s — Money and Me — became the lodestones of the zeitgeist, and damn those distant wars.

    The biggest single-day market drop since 9/11 reminded me that when trading reopened on Sept. 17, 2001, and the Dow plunged 684.81 points, some executives backdated their options to reprice them at this postattack low to increase their potential gains.

    So that’s what “financial killing” really means. No better illustration exists of a culture where private gain has eclipsed the public good, public service, even public decency, and where the cult of the individual has caused the commonwealth to wither.

    That’s the culture we’ve lived with. It’s over now. Some new American beginning is needed.

    When I taught a journalism course at Princeton a couple of years ago, I was captivated by the bright, curious minds in my class. But when I asked students what they wanted to do, the overwhelming answer was: “Oh, I guess I’ll end up in i-banking.”

    It was not that they loved investment banking, or thought their purring brains would be best deployed on Wall Street poring over a balance sheet, it was the money and the fact everyone else was doing it.

    I called one of my former students, Bianca Bosker, who graduated this summer and has taken a job with The Monitor Group, a management consultancy firm (she’s also writing a book). I asked her about the mood among her peers.

    “Well, I have several friends who took summer internships at Lehman that they expected to lead to full-time job, so this is a huge issue,” she said. “You can’t believe how intensely companies like Merrill would recruit at Ivy League schools. I mean, when I was a sophomore, if you could spell your name, you were guaranteed a job.”

    But why do freshmen bursting to change the world morph into investment bankers?

    “I guess the bottom line is the money. You could be going to grad school and paying for it, or earning six figures. And knowing nothing about money, you get to move hundreds of millions around! No wonder we’re in this mess: turns out the best and the brightest make the biggest and the worst.”

    According to the Harvard Crimson, 39 percent of work-force-bound Harvard seniors this year are heading for consulting firms and financial sector companies (or were in June). That’s down from 47 percent — almost half the job-bound class — in 2007.

    These numbers mirror a skewed culture. The best and the brightest should think again. Barack Obama put the issue this way at Wesleyan University in May: beware of the “poverty of ambition” in a culture of “the big house and the nice suits.”

    College seniors might start by reading “A New Bank to Save Our Infrastructure” in the current edition of The New York Review of Books, an impassioned plea from Felix Rohatyn (who knows something of financial rescues) and Everett Ehrlich for the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank, or N.I.B.

    Its aim, at a time when the Chinese are investing $200 billion in railways and building 97 new airports, would be to use public and private capital to give coherence to a vast program of public works. “This can improve productivity, fight unemployment and raise our standard of living,” Rohatyn told me.

    It’s absurd that earmarks — the self-interested budgetary foibles of senators and representatives — should dictate the progressive dilapidation of America. How can the commonwealth thrive when its bridges sag, its levees cede, its public transport creaks?

    So, young minds, sign up for the N.I.B.! Before doing so, read Nick Taylor’s stirring “American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the W.P.A.: When F.D.R. Put the Nation to Work.” It shows how the Works Progress Administration, a linchpin of Roosevelt’s New Deal, put millions of unemployed to work on dams, airports and the like. It’s a book about how imaginative political leadership can rally a nation in crisis.

    They’re listening to Coldplay down on Wall Street:

    Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!

    Yes, the death of the old is also the birth of the new. In my end is my beginning. It’s time for the best and the brightest to step forth and rediscover the public sphere.
  2. These scumbags deserve what they get.
  3. Humpy


    Oh really

    Oh yes - change souds good especially if you are in the current mess. Both candidates have latched onto change as a winning formula to get power.

    It was interesting to listen to Clinton's speech in his electioneering days. Really set for change and progress. In fact I don't remember a presidential candidate that didn't play the change card to get power for themselves. If not still wet behind the ears then you are probably old enough to have heard the great words all before. JFK was a master of the rhetoric.

    So what happened ? Er well not a lot. There will be the usual flurry of activity to get out of the current mess and then back to sleep until the next one.

    You US guys gotta "pull finger" this time - your systems need MAJOR overhaul not just fixing
  4. what about the idea that wall street will ultimately become irrelevant,if not already,and silicon valley will take centre stage lets face it at least they are creating something
  5. Oh, I did have more scathing things to say. Coming from a Newspaper that won't be around when I'm 50, I don't really care. He doesn't know what Wall Street is good for, or what they actually do.
  6. vv111y


    London new #1?
  7. Honestly, I don't know enough about Wall St. to judge if this is the end for the Wall St. banker due to the slimming down of investment bankers. I do think the shaking out is a good thing and justified in the overdue overall correction in the market, at least that much is proven. Whether Wall St. itself is in for change is up to debate, but I doubt it. It won't affect my trading either way unless we lose half of our market volume.

    At that time, trading itself will change.
  8. When you have a large chunk of the best and the brightest of our country shuffling paper around instead of creating value, theres a problem. Don't get me wrong, I love trading, but I realize there is next to no NET value creation in it. There will still be bankers, but not as many... this cleansing is needed.
  9. It's like watching the Discovery Channel. There is some ugly beast who dies out, and another beast takes his place. There is a ten year old Gordon Gekko somewhere, sucking the cream out his buddies Twinkie at lunch. He's just waiting to screw you kids out of their retirement savings.