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A broker faces the credit crunch

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Renita Jablonski: We've been talking to people caught up in various ways in the credit crunch. Today, a former mortgage-backed securities broker. Wall Street may have helped get us into this mess, but many of its employees are paying the price.
In New York City alone, some 20,000 are expected to lose their jobs in the securities industry by the end of the year. Marketplace's Amy Scott brings us this story.


Amy Scott: In the basement of a Manhattan brownstone, Vincent Spoto works the phone.

Vincent Spoto Yeah, hi, Greg. It's Vincent Spoto from New York.

Until last Fall, Spoto worked in the mortgage-backed securities division of Credit Suisse. He lost his job when the subprime mortgage market imploded and the bank laid off hundreds of employees.

A friend is letting Spoto use a cubicle in this office space to look for work. He commutes into to the city nearly every day to network and make calls. With 25 years' experience, he's scored interviews at most of the big banks.

Spoto: You know, and people look at the background, look at your resume and say "Gee, we really like the resume, but you know we're not hiring. But at the end of the day, we'd like you to come in. Would you be willing to come in and talk to us?" And of course I do that, because you never know what's gonna happen.

It's getting tougher to support his wife and two daughters. Spoto's severance pay ran out months ago. His unemployment benefits have expired.

Spoto: You know, you cramp down, and you buckle down, so you don't go out to dinner as often or anything like that. But you make do with what you have.

In the meantime, Spoto is making due with the skills he learned at Credit Suisse to reach out to others hurt by the credit crunch. He's working with some colleagues from the mortgage industry on a new business. The idea is to help investors who lost money on mortgage-backed bonds. If some of the underlying loans didn't meet the terms of the bond, he says investors may be able to recover some money.

Spoto: As the mortgage bubble began to get larger and larger, one could guess that maybe, you know, some eyes were turned the other way. And to the extent we can help them, that is what we're aiming to do.

The business is just one of the options Spoto's exploring. He's doing some work for an appraisal firm. He and his wife have even considered starting some kind of franchise.

Spoto: It's kind of an exciting time, you know, if you think about it. I'm enjoying it, I'm enjoying pursuing different opportunities and talking to people. But you know, the stresses associated with having to make the payments and pay the bills and all, that's real.

So if one of those banks comes back with a job offer, he could well end up right back where he started -- on Wall Street.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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