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Was anyone here actually working in NYC finance when all the crap started going down. Like I can't help but wonder what was going through everyone's mind with the layoffs, downward market, etc.....You see all these pics of people packing up, and stressed out people on the exchange floor. But was anyone here actually apart of it or knew someone that was apart of it (spouse, roommate, etc...) and how were they feeling? I know alot of people here including myself were still listening to professors lecture.

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Comments (39)

  • CaptK's picture

    I was working at an investment bank in Charlotte during the crisis. I'll always remember the day that Wachovia failed and it was announced that Citi would be buying them for $1/share. Wachovia and Bank of America are the two largest employers in Charlotte and employ probably 60%+ of downtown residents, so it rocked a lot of people. I remember walking to work and it was as though a pall had descended on the city. It was eerily foggy, and there were tons of people (presumably Wachovia employees, but the BofA people were pretty shaken as well) just shuffling to work in kind of a daze, just shell shocked.

    During the fall of 2008, not a lot of work got done. There were days when we all just sat there refreshing Google finance watching the Dow crater by 500, 600, 800, 1000 points in a day. Refreshing WSJ.com to see if our bank would be the next one to fail. It was unreal.

    - Capt K -
    "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham

  • monty09's picture

    As I walked on the trading desk at 7.25 am you expect a certain amount of noise or "buzz" that was gone. 12 hours prior every firm pulled out credit and the phones stopped ringing. That has been the most uneasy I have been in my career, seeing traders doing nothing. No trading happening in a trading firm. I didnt know if I was going to lose my job or who would buy us but I know my department was profitable. I was not upset but felt let down by the machine that printed money.

  • HerSerendipity's picture

    It was honest to god depressing. Watching your friends and coworkers get laid off left and right was scary. I was in a product group so we sat on a trading floor and it was deathly quiet for awhile with everyone's eyes glued to CNBC.

  • 1man2nv's picture

    Wow....I can't imagine going through that.

    You give me a gift? *BAM* Thank you note! You invite me somewhere? *POW* RSVP! You do me a favor? *WHAM* Favor returned! Do not test my politeness.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    I was at one of the major banks during the implosion. Still not comfortable talking about which firm I worked for and EXACTLY what it was like, but let's just say that if you worked in fixed income pricing and analytics, the phones were ringing off the hook near the end of the second week of September, everyone was in a mildly panicked state and needed to know their positions and risk, and we were trying to cram 10x the normal traffic through the system and hoping/praying it wouldn't crash that weekend. We were getting all of these emails saying cancel your plans- you need to work this weekend.

    Early the third week- after Lehman- was the complete opposite. It was hard to get folks to come into work and mark stuff afterwards; I'd imagine trading had ground to a halt. A lot of traders wanted to take a couple days off and given all of the volumes and panic and the fact that other people weren't doing their jobs, there was a lot of work for us. In lieu of the traders, we were calling around to our friends at other firms to try and get price info- and some of them were calling us for ours'. So if you have access to OTC numbers and they look a little off... don't blame analytics, blame the traders.

    Those two weeks made it feel like the world was going to hell in a handbasket- and I was honestly shocked we hadn't seen something ala 1987 yet. I was calling up friends, telling them to get out of their riskiest positions. I didn't sit on the trading floor then, but you could feel something was terribly wrong even up in our little quanty analytics & pricing world. A week later, after TARP failed passage the first time, that was sort of the trigger for the beginning of the crash. Even after TARP passed, it was a relentless 700/day drop for about a week- mutual fund sales were causing market imbalances going into the closing auctions and a lot of those losses happened in the last 45 minutes of the day. Finally the DJIA bottomed at 7500 and rallied back up to around 8K.

    Meanwhile, the panic in the fixed income markets subsided a little with TARP, but that wasn't important- everyone up in Analytics land had their eyes fixed on the DJIA rather than focusing on the fact that liquidity was coming back into the fixed income makets.

    Then there were the layoffs. There had already been a lot of layoffs going into September 2008, but they kicked into overdrive over the next six months. A lot of friends got kicked out the door. Some of them had to go home and live with their parents and/or couch surf. I was figuring a 40% chance we were heading into the Great Depression and a 30% chance that I'd be unemployed in a year. My low cost of living and cash cushion helped me sleep a lot better at night than a lot of people, but I was still kinda nervous.

    But stocks were getting so cheap, it wasn't even funny. And I had all of this cash saved up in the bank. In February, with the DJIA starting to dip below 7500 and then 7000, everyone was in a panic. People *knew* that stuff was way underpriced, but they were worried it would get even cheaper and they would get laid off. Finally, I said, "This is crazy. Fundamentally safe, boring stocks with conservative balance sheets that we depend on to meet our basic necessities are trading with P/Es of 7. I don't care if they get cheaper, I'm buying." I gave up eating out for the next three months to buy stocks, and stuck a lot of my cash sitting on the sidelines into the market. That was one of the best financial decisions I've ever made.

    You young little whippersnappers who wonder why I'm so thrifty- why I'm so conservative- why I think any job is a good job- well, I survived a crash. I had to take the PATH train uphill both ways to get to work, through 60 inches of snow...

    Oh dear, I'm turning into grandpa.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    technoviking's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    You young little whippersnappers who wonder why I'm so thrifty- why I'm so conservative- why I think any job is a good job- well, I survived a crash. I had to take the PATH train uphill both ways to get to work, through 60 inches of snow..

    Keeping this quote by my desk next year. Thanks IlliniProgrammer

  • GoodBread's picture

    I was at a custodian bank that got TARPed, covering money market funds owned by AIG. My two main fears were that our funds would break the buck (I had a lot of extra work until the whole mark-to-market regulation issues were resolved) or that AIG would sell their asset management to someone who used a different custodian. Part of me didn't mind getting laid off because I hated my job (still do), but Fall '08 was not a good time to be losing one's job.

    Ultimately, I mainly remember thinking there goes my chance at getting into an FO role for a very, very long time.

    edit: Wildest moment was seeing our bank's stock go down 50% in a couple hours before the CEO released a statement saying we had no material RE exposure and our stock ended up down 10% for the day.

  • derivstrading's picture

    Illini, your post should be a mandatory read for all incoming analysts, especially those planning on living paycheck to paycheck and spending bonuses on watches in their first couple of years.

    Live frugally, build a cash cushion and you will sleep a lot better at night.

  • junky_munky's picture

    I was in London the day Lehman filed for bankruptcy, and it was surreal watching the huge crowd gather in front of the Lehman building in Canary Wharf and have their farewell drinks. (I had drinks with my colleagues as well)

    I worked with a European bank which was bailed out. We had two rounds of layoffs, and it was heart wrenching to see people being called into a room, and not come back to the desk. We had quite a few farewell kind of meals with my friends and colleagues.

    And then just before the third round of layoffs I was called in by my team's MD (who we knew was going to be laid off the next day). I was VERY confident that I would survive, so when he forewarned me that I was in the list of people who were out the next day, I practically could feel the ground give way from under my feet. But at least due to his warning I could gather my stuff and be prepared for the next day.

    The next day, was called into a room with the head of the broader team, and the letter from my company was there on the table and I could just read the word "regret". Long story short, I was in a different country, had to worry about my visa, had to worry about the rent contracts etc. Lost a lot of weight in one month; desperately got in touch with a HUGE number of people for contacts - the fact that I got the news on 17th Dec (2008) did not help. Though I was technically unemployed only for two weeks after my garden leave (new job started on 1st Feb 2009). Luckily, got my present job, which was better paying and way better experience

  • bankbank's picture

    deal activity in the leveraged finance/ mf private equity world pretty much ground to a halt, starting before late 2008.

    i spent the time bored to death until the market volatility got really crazy in late 2008 and then i started day-trading like a mofo with my saved bonus money. it was great...felt like i was in vegas every day. the market would just start moving and then the dow would end up +/- 300 points by close. after a while and a few big loss days, I realized I was on my way to becoming a gambling addict and I finally quit and just dumped my money into some index funds. came back to haunt me when H&R block refused to do my tax return because of all my trading activity...hah

  • In reply to derivstrading
    1man2nv's picture

    derivstrading:
    Illini, your post should be a mandatory read for all incoming analysts, especially those planning on living paycheck to paycheck and spending bonuses on watches in their first couple of years.

    Live frugally, build a cash cushion and you will sleep a lot better at night.


    I start this summer and I plan on trying to build a nice reserve....I can't even imagine what crazy things other new analyst do with all their money at that age lol.

    You give me a gift? *BAM* Thank you note! You invite me somewhere? *POW* RSVP! You do me a favor? *WHAM* Favor returned! Do not test my politeness.

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  • alexpasch's picture

    It wasn't that horrible for me. I wast at a MM PE firm that had some dry powder left in its fund, which we used to fund companies that suffered in the crisis and couldn't get credit. We stopped looking at new deals though, because that money was needed for existing portfolio companies. We were assured early on our jobs were safe so I wasn't worried about that. I guess it helped a lot that I wasn't in NYC (where everyone works in finance) and the city I lived in was conservative and didn't suffer the housing bust either.

    Consultant to a Fortune 50 Company

  • PossumBelly's picture

    I remember texting a buddy at Bear IBD as rumors about the company began to swirl on Monday in March (stock was in the 60's that day). He hadn't heard anything at the time. A day or so later was Schwartz's infamous CNBC interview...and then it was off to the races.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    LTV's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    I was at one of the major banks during the implosion. Still not comfortable talking about which firm I worked for and EXACTLY what it was like, but let's just say that if you worked in fixed income pricing and analytics, the phones were ringing off the hook near the end of the second week of September, everyone was in a mildly panicked state and needed to know their positions and risk, and we were trying to cram 10x the normal traffic through the system and hoping/praying it wouldn't crash that weekend. We were getting all of these emails saying cancel your plans- you need to work this weekend.

    Early the third week- after Lehman- was the complete opposite. It was hard to get folks to come into work and mark stuff afterwards; I'd imagine trading had ground to a halt. A lot of traders wanted to take a couple days off and given all of the volumes and panic and the fact that other people weren't doing their jobs, there was a lot of work for us. In lieu of the traders, we were calling around to our friends at other firms to try and get price info- and some of them were calling us for ours'. So if you have access to OTC numbers and they look a little off... don't blame analytics, blame the traders.

    Those two weeks made it feel like the world was going to hell in a handbasket- and I was honestly shocked we hadn't seen something ala 1987 yet. I was calling up friends, telling them to get out of their riskiest positions. I didn't sit on the trading floor then, but you could feel something was terribly wrong even up in our little quanty analytics & pricing world. A week later, after TARP failed passage the first time, that was sort of the trigger for the beginning of the crash. Even after TARP passed, it was a relentless 700/day drop for about a week- mutual fund sales were causing market imbalances going into the closing auctions and a lot of those losses happened in the last 45 minutes of the day. Finally the DJIA bottomed at 7500 and rallied back up to around 8K.

    Meanwhile, the panic in the fixed income markets subsided a little with TARP, but that wasn't important- everyone up in Analytics land had their eyes fixed on the DJIA rather than focusing on the fact that liquidity was coming back into the fixed income makets.

    Then there were the layoffs. There had already been a lot of layoffs going into September 2008, but they kicked into overdrive over the next six months. A lot of friends got kicked out the door. Some of them had to go home and live with their parents and/or couch surf. I was figuring a 40% chance we were heading into the Great Depression and a 30% chance that I'd be unemployed in a year. My low cost of living and cash cushion helped me sleep a lot better at night than a lot of people, but I was still kinda nervous.

    But stocks were getting so cheap, it wasn't even funny. And I had all of this cash saved up in the bank. In February, with the DJIA starting to dip below 7500 and then 7000, everyone was in a panic. People *knew* that stuff was way underpriced, but they were worried it would get even cheaper and they would get laid off. Finally, I said, "This is crazy. Fundamentally safe, boring stocks with conservative balance sheets that we depend on to meet our basic necessities are trading with P/Es of 7. I don't care if they get cheaper, I'm buying." I gave up eating out for the next three months to buy stocks, and stuck a lot of my cash sitting on the sidelines into the market. That was one of the best financial decisions I've ever made.

    You young little whippersnappers who wonder why I'm so thrifty- why I'm so conservative- why I think any job is a good job- well, I survived a crash. I had to take the PATH train uphill both ways to get to work, through 60 inches of snow...

    Oh dear, I'm turning into grandpa.

    SB for you sir. This is great advise for all future monkeys.

  • HerSerendipity's picture

    haha yes. i remember when i was talking to a few 2nd and 3rd years who assured me that "analysts wouldn't get laid off." Awesome. There's something particularly heartwrenching about watching grown men cry and pack up their desk.

  • cartman's picture

    wow, IP, you shit should be required reading.

  • monty09's picture

    however during 2008 is when i made 1) the most money and 2) the most advances in my career... it sucked but end of the day i make it out okay

  • cartman's picture

    So I gotta ask, what would you guys say was the difference between the guys that got fucked up by the crisis and the guys that made it out just fine? Obviously a blanket question, but would love to hear some opinions nevertheless.

  • 1man2nv's picture

    I remember coming home from class and looking at my brokerage account (I had a little money invested just to get my feet wet) and watching the current prices of GS =$49 AAPL =$67 BAC= $4 and some other unbelievable deals. I had about 8 Grand in cash (savings, bday money, and money from parents) but I was young nervous and didn't buy anything......HUGE REGRET!!

    You give me a gift? *BAM* Thank you note! You invite me somewhere? *POW* RSVP! You do me a favor? *WHAM* Favor returned! Do not test my politeness.

  • In reply to HerSerendipity
    1man2nv's picture

    HerSerendipity:
    haha yes. i remember when i was talking to a few 2nd and 3rd years who assured me that "analysts wouldn't get laid off." Awesome. There's something particularly heartwrenching about watching grown men cry and pack up their desk.

    Being laid off as an analyst is like my biggest fear. I would feel like such a failure, and wouldn't know what the f**k to do.

    You give me a gift? *BAM* Thank you note! You invite me somewhere? *POW* RSVP! You do me a favor? *WHAM* Favor returned! Do not test my politeness.

  • In reply to cartman
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    cartman:
    So I gotta ask, what would you guys say was the difference between the guys that got fucked up by the crisis and the guys that made it out just fine? Obviously a blanket question, but would love to hear some opinions nevertheless.

    A lot of people who got laid off were in the wrong place at the wrong time- IE mortgage trading.

    Generally, competence and relative value was key to surviving the more general layoffs.

    It was healthy for me and a lot of other people I know to have a broader perspective on life than just careers and the stock market.

  • In reply to 1man2nv
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    1man2nv:
    I remember coming home from class and looking at my brokerage account (I had a little money invested just to get my feet wet) and watching the current prices of GS =$49 AAPL =$67 BAC= $4 and some other unbelievable deals. I had about 8 Grand in cash (savings, bday money, and money from parents) but I was young nervous and didn't buy anything......HUGE REGRET!!

    I saw that stuff and was too scared too. But I saw railroads trading at 7 P/Es. Natural Gas Pipeline MLPs with 30% debt ratios and booked to capacity yielding 14%. Nursing home REITs with $0 in liabilities yielding 12%. And I looked that that and said that if this goes to 18%, it will be an even better price.
  • kingtut's picture

    I started working in July 2008, not in NYC, and my boss thought it would be a great idea if I wrote brief market memos each day for the partners. I loved spending 30 minutes to an hour each day just totally absorbed in the markets: CNBC, Bloomberg, WSJ, Dealbook, etc... It was fun up until Lehman went under. It was so depressing to write market memos each day after seeing the market crater day after day.

    Bear, WaMu, Fannie, Freddie, Wachovia, Lehman, etc... I remember buying some call options, just a couple of OTM contracts, on Wachovia the weekend before they were sold. And then there were the 3X financial ETFs that became pretty popular as well. 2008 sucked. I learned a lot from it though.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    Beef's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    I was at one of the major banks during the implosion. Still not comfortable talking about which firm I worked for and EXACTLY what it was like, but let's just say that if you worked in fixed income pricing and analytics, the phones were ringing off the hook near the end of the second week of September, everyone was in a mildly panicked state and needed to know their positions and risk, and we were trying to cram 10x the normal traffic through the system and hoping/praying it wouldn't crash that weekend. We were getting all of these emails saying cancel your plans- you need to work this weekend.

    Early the third week- after Lehman- was the complete opposite. It was hard to get folks to come into work and mark stuff afterwards; I'd imagine trading had ground to a halt. A lot of traders wanted to take a couple days off and given all of the volumes and panic and the fact that other people weren't doing their jobs, there was a lot of work for us. In lieu of the traders, we were calling around to our friends at other firms to try and get price info- and some of them were calling us for ours'. So if you have access to OTC numbers and they look a little off... don't blame analytics, blame the traders.

    Those two weeks made it feel like the world was going to hell in a handbasket- and I was honestly shocked we hadn't seen something ala 1987 yet. I was calling up friends, telling them to get out of their riskiest positions. I didn't sit on the trading floor then, but you could feel something was terribly wrong even up in our little quanty analytics & pricing world. A week later, after TARP failed passage the first time, that was sort of the trigger for the beginning of the crash. Even after TARP passed, it was a relentless 700/day drop for about a week- mutual fund sales were causing market imbalances going into the closing auctions and a lot of those losses happened in the last 45 minutes of the day. Finally the DJIA bottomed at 7500 and rallied back up to around 8K.

    Meanwhile, the panic in the fixed income markets subsided a little with TARP, but that wasn't important- everyone up in Analytics land had their eyes fixed on the DJIA rather than focusing on the fact that liquidity was coming back into the fixed income makets.

    Then there were the layoffs. There had already been a lot of layoffs going into September 2008, but they kicked into overdrive over the next six months. A lot of friends got kicked out the door. Some of them had to go home and live with their parents and/or couch surf. I was figuring a 40% chance we were heading into the Great Depression and a 30% chance that I'd be unemployed in a year. My low cost of living and cash cushion helped me sleep a lot better at night than a lot of people, but I was still kinda nervous.

    But stocks were getting so cheap, it wasn't even funny. And I had all of this cash saved up in the bank. In February, with the DJIA starting to dip below 7500 and then 7000, everyone was in a panic. People *knew* that stuff was way underpriced, but they were worried it would get even cheaper and they would get laid off. Finally, I said, "This is crazy. Fundamentally safe, boring stocks with conservative balance sheets that we depend on to meet our basic necessities are trading with P/Es of 7. I don't care if they get cheaper, I'm buying." I gave up eating out for the next three months to buy stocks, and stuck a lot of my cash sitting on the sidelines into the market. That was one of the best financial decisions I've ever made.

    You young little whippersnappers who wonder why I'm so thrifty- why I'm so conservative- why I think any job is a good job- well, I survived a crash. I had to take the PATH train uphill both ways to get to work, through 60 inches of snow...

    Oh dear, I'm turning into grandpa.

    Just gave you my last SB. Cheers mate.

    Wall Street leaders now understand that they made a mistake, one born of their innocent and trusting nature. They trusted ordinary Americans to behave more responsibly than they themselves ever would, and these ordinary Americans betrayed their trust.

  • In reply to kingtut
    Beef's picture

    kingtut:
    I started working in July 2008, not in NYC, and my boss thought it would be a great idea if I wrote brief market memos each day for the partners. I loved spending 30 minutes to an hour each day just totally absorbed in the markets: CNBC, Bloomberg, WSJ, Dealbook, etc... It was fun up until Lehman went under. It was so depressing to write market memos each day after seeing the market crater day after day.

    Bear, WaMu, Fannie, Freddie, Wachovia, Lehman, etc... I remember buying some call options, just a couple of OTM contracts, on Wachovia the weekend before they were sold. And then there were the 3X financial ETFs that became pretty popular as well. 2008 sucked. I learned a lot from it though.

    I made a lot of money playing with 3x financial ETFs (FAS and FAZ). I also lost a lot of money speculating on companies that defaulted and went belly-up. At the end of the day I came out about even, but learned a TON about the market.

    Wall Street leaders now understand that they made a mistake, one born of their innocent and trusting nature. They trusted ordinary Americans to behave more responsibly than they themselves ever would, and these ordinary Americans betrayed their trust.

  • APAE's picture

    Great post IP, too many kids my age don't value a lifestyle within appropriate means. Maybe it's the ones who go through school paying their own way who have a more frugal mindset, but the fact that I stand to make six figures all-in doesn't mean I spend all of it.

    Also: listened to that audio, craziest thing I've ever heard.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

  • In reply to 1man2nv
    derivstrading's picture

    1man2nv:

    I start this summer and I plan on trying to build a nice reserve....I can't even imagine what crazy things other new analyst do with all their money at that age lol.

    One of the huge mistakes I made, but one of the better ones to make, is that I spent horrendously as a summer intern. Going out and spending silly money, buying new shirts if i couldnt be bothered to wash them. However, lookling back at that made me realize that I got no enjoyment out of spending money, and I would get much more benefit with a peace of mind.

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  • In reply to derivstrading
    1man2nv's picture

    You give me a gift? *BAM* Thank you note! You invite me somewhere? *POW* RSVP! You do me a favor? *WHAM* Favor returned! Do not test my politeness.

  • In reply to MrLove
    1man2nv's picture

    You give me a gift? *BAM* Thank you note! You invite me somewhere? *POW* RSVP! You do me a favor? *WHAM* Favor returned! Do not test my politeness.