Friday, July 16, 2010

Wall Street makes a comeback

Some stories makes so much sense when you read them that you wonder why you didn't see them coming. One such story appeared recently in the New York Times—Wall St. Hiring in Anticipation of an Economic Recovery.

While much of the country remains fixated on the bleak employment picture, hiring is beginning to pick up in the place that led the economy into recession — Wall Street.

The shift underscores the remarkable recovery of the biggest banks and brokerage firms since Washington rescued them in the fall of 2008, and follows the huge rebound in profits for members of the New York Stock Exchange, which totaled $61.4 billion in 2009, the most ever. Since employment bottomed out in February, New York securities firms have added nearly 2,000 jobs, a trend that is also playing out nationwide at financial companies, commodity contract traders and investment firms.

Having lived through the debacle of the last 15 years, I am struck (almost) speechless upon reading this text. What further proof do we require that nothing has changed? What further proof do we require that Financial interests run the Empire? What further proof do we require that corruption is rampant, that the fix is in? What further proof do we require that wise & fair governance was thrown out the window a long, long time ago?

No further proof is needed, but the Times gives it to us anyway.

Wall Street makes a comeback

Lehman disappeared, Bear Sterns disappeared, Merrill Lynch was absorbed, etc. but Wall Street Marches On

As hiring has picked up on Wall Street, salary packages recalling the boom years are reappearing at the most senior levels. Richard Stein,president of Global Sage, an executive search firm, said corporate clients had offered compensation packages worth more than $1 million annually to 12 candidates in recent weeks.

“The offers are not near where they were in 2006, but there is still a war for talent,” he said. “Everyone thought the ice age had returned, but the thaw has come and we’re in catch-up mode"...

Goldman Sachs added 600 jobs worldwide in the first quarter, while JPMorgan's investment bank has hired slightly more than 2,000 people globally since the beginning of the year.

Closer to home, Credit Suisse’s investment bank, based in New York, filled 600 positions in the first quarter, with a significant portion in New York. Deutche Bank has hired 414 people in New York, including 98 directors and managing directors since the start of the year.

Hiring is also picking up at boutique firms and at smaller foreign banks seeking a beachhead in New York.

The only good news here is that there is no dearth of places where you can throw up if you're feeling a bit queasy just now. If you thought that Goldman Sachs paying a $550 million fine to SEC was some sort of victory, think again. I will quote one more short passage from the Times—

“I think we’re seeing some hiring in anticipation of better times,” said Rae Rosen, a regional economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “Wall Street typically hires in anticipation of the recovery, and there is a sense that the economy has bottomed out and is slowly improving.”

Wall Steet is not gearing up in anticipation of a recovery. What recovery? This week alone, we learned that the inventories blip in GDP growth is over. (Inventory restocking accounted for 2/3rds of 2.7% growth in GDP during the first quarter.) Retail sales slumped for the second month in a row. Etc. But why would Wall Street give a shit what's happening on Main Street? That's a convenient fiction. Those in The Money World could care less about those of us in the Real World.

No, Wall Street is anticipating that, eventually, they will be able to destroy & profit from any recovery we might have. This is what parasites do. Asset bubbles must be inflated, Ponzi Schemes initiated, suckers ripped off, etc. You know how it works. If you want some righteous indignation about a society by, of, and for the rich, read Bob Herbert's column in the Times.

Times are hard and they're going to get worse. I wrote a post called All We Have Is Each Other. I recommend reading it if you haven't already done so, or re-reading it if you have. Even with the sociopaths in charge, life is worth living, but making life worthwhile in a deteriorating environment requires effort and awareness.

Let the assholes have their money—there's nothing we can do about it anyway. Don't be the one they're stealing it from. Don't be a victim. But money is not the be all and end all of life. Yes, money provides convenience and some of the "finer things" in life, but in the end consumption is a fool's game. Rise above it. When Wall Street is making a comeback, you know that's what life is telling you to do.

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