Wall Street wisdom
In the heart of the NY financial district people have their say on how recession is affecting them
MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST: This is Matt Palevsky for The Real News. I’m standing on Wall Street in New York City, right in front of the New York Stock Exchange. It’s been a difficult and volatile month for the stock exchange. Bear Stearns was just bailed out by the US government, the Fed lowered interest rates again last week, and the US dollar’s weaker than it’s been in the last 35 years. The former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, has said this could be the worst financial crisis since World War II. Are people on Wall Street worried? And are everyday Americans already feeling the repercussions of this crisis?
STREETER 1: The subprime mortgage crisis fallout is going to be felt by any of these institutional investing institutions that have exposure. Bear Stearns we see first, and I think it’s going to be down the line, unless they’re able to shore up their liquidity.
PALEVSKY: And can the government stop that?
STREETER 1: If they want to play a role. It seems right now the offer from $2 a share has gone up to $10 a share following all the clamor by the shareholders. But I’ve heard reports that if the government steps in, that could make the whole JPMorgan Chase [inaudible] away. So the government involvement will be on a case-by-case basis, as I understand it.
PALEVSKY: How is it going to affect business in America, that we have a weak dollar?
STREETER 2: I don’t think it’s going to hurt us too much, ’cause I think primarily a lot of the reasons that we have a weak dollar is we’re trying to protect our business, i.e., cutting interest rates is, you know, all to try to avoid a recession.
PALEVSKY: What do everyday Americans, whose gas prices are higher, their bread prices are higher, just everyday items become more expensive because the dollar has become weaker?
STREETER 2: I guess, then, yeah, I mean, gas, definitely, ’cause oil’s measured in dollars, so when the dollar’s [inaudible] price is going to go up, just—.
PALEVSKY: Wheat’s gone up 250 percent *[crosstalk]
STREETER 2: *Yeah, a lot of the commodities, and not just wheat, but a lot of the grains have gone up a lot.
PALEVSKY: So food’s more expensive.
STREETER 2: Yeah. I guess the average American’s going to see that as bad. It’s going to trickle down. But overall I think it’s just something that’s long overdue. I think the dollar’s needed to be weaker for probably a long time *[crosstalk]
PALEVSKY: *Although we see the market doing down and we flip on our TV at home, people on Wall Street aren’t suffering.
STREETER 2: No, I don’t think so at all. The markets’ at high. And this is not that down. I mean, when you go up and up and up and up, and then it, you know, retraces everyone thinks it’s bad; but really, overall, if you look at it, the growth of—you know, if you look at any indexes.
PALEVSKY: But even this downward trend isn’t a bad thing for people *[crosstalk]
STREETER 2: *I think it’s cyclical. I think, you know, if you go up forever, you’ve got a problem.
STREETER 3: My name’s Mike ["sa-VET"], and I’m a market-maker for Capstone Trading.
PALEVSKY: And it’s a tumultuous time right now.
STREETER 3: Yes, especially for market makers.
PALEVSKY: And what’s going on?
STREETER 3: Nobody knows. That’s the problem. Markets are wide, and people are uncertain. There’s just too much uncertainty. The government has to sort out their problems, and big banks have to sort out some issues, find new ways of generating profits. Well, we like volatility, so it’s been good for us.
PALEVSKY: How have people been acting lately? It’s a volatile market. Do people change their habits, their eating habits?
STREETER 4: People, they change. But some people [inaudible]. Like, when they ask me for how much for pretzel, I say $3, and they say, "We could get it for $1.50." How would that sound if we could get it for $1.50, but everybody settles for $3?
PALEVSKY: So people are now complaining about the price?
STREETER 4: Yeah, people complain about the prices.
PALEVSKY: So what’s changed? You know, the market’s not doing well right now.
STREETER 4: The changes? The price has been going up.
PALEVSKY: The prices of hot dogs?
STREETER 4: Hmm. The price of hot dogs, the price of Snapples, the prices of Gatorade, all the prices have been going up.
PALEVSKY: When did they start going up?
STREETER 4: A week ago.
STREETER 5: Yeah, actually, this time, you know, the business is very slow. And, you know, maybe its been lowest at the window. But, actually, it’s a lot like before, you know. Actually, the prices every day is higher. You know. That’s that. You know. To have to keep the prices now, if you look, you know, around, you’re going to see the gas is higher; the subway ticket is higher. Everything become, you know, higher. The food, before we buy the chicken, you know; now it’s almost $5—$2 more in a pound. You know. So everything getting higher.
PALEVSKY: Has it been harder for you personally?
STREETER 5: Absolutely. Absolutely. If it’s hard for the customer, then it’ll be hard for me, you know. Before, you’re going to see, like, a long line here. You know. But now I talk to you.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.