This financial crisis is getting spooky

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    The annual Zombiecon festival in New York City this year adopted a financial crisis theme. Participants dressed as zombie bankers, undead brokers and CEOs and gathered in the Wall Street district. Here they pose for a shot on the steps of bankruptcy court.

    - Jim Glaser

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    An undead banker at Zombiecon in midtown Manhattan on Oct. 18.

    - Jim Glaser

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    A zombie queen at the Zombiecon festival in Manhattan on Oct. 18 begins a blood baptism of the Wall Street bull.

    - Jim Glaser

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    Zombiecon revelers in New York City celebrate the blood baptism of the Wall Street bull on Oct. 18. The annual Halloween event chose the financial crisis as its theme this year.

    - Jim Glaser

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    A Zombiecon participant holds a tombstone for Washington Mutual bank during the annual New York City Halloween event that featured a financial crisis theme on Wall Street on Oct. 18.

    - Jim Glaser

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    A Zombiecon participant expresses his opinion of the federal bailout near the New York Stock Exchange in midtown Manhattan. The annual Halloween event adopted a financial crisis theme this year on Oct. 18.

    - Jim Glaser

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    Tombstones tell the tales at the Zombiecon event on Wall Street on Oct. 18. The annual Halloween event in New York City adopted a financial crisis theme this year.

    - Jim Glaser


Kai Ryssdal:
With economic headlines scary enough to give Edgar Allen Poe something to write home about we got to wondering. Is the sense of dread in the financial world permeating the culture at large? And is that going to infect Halloween?
Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman went looking for people who have been spooked by the financial crisis and are dressing the part.

Mitchell Hartman:
Some people don't want to wait for Halloween. A few weeks ago, 300 zombie bankers, brokers and CEOs spewed out of a subway station near Wall Street. They massed on the steps of the old U.S. Customs House.

Jim Glaser: And then attacked the Wall Street bull, baptizing him in blood and then ritually eating his brain.

Jim Glaser helps organize the group, called Kostume Kult. When he's not dressing up as a zombie, he's an executive recruiter. Kostume Kult will march in tomorrow night's Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. There'll be nearly naked short sellers and a troupe of Wall Street apes -- in suits, ties and monkey masks.

Glaser: This year the Wall Street apes will be apes down on their luck, and instead of rolled-up Wall Street Journals, they are going to be bringing their resumes with them.

These theatrics reflect something going on deep in the American psyche now that the boom has gone bust, says John McGarvey. He's an economics consultant.

John McGarvey: The entire macro-economic scenario has gotten into the hearts and wallets of the average citizen. So, I think that's one reason why there's such an interest in financial costuming, as a way to exorcize those ghosts and fears and take ownership of them.

McGarvey's dressing up as your basic zombie banker this year. But at get-out-the-vote costume parties all over the country, folks are tackling higher concepts. Like John Bacino in Missoula, and Genna Beier and Jefferson Smith in Portland.

John Bacino: I'll be going as my 401k for Halloween this year, and I'll be printing off a copy of the graph to show exactly how poorly my 401k has done.

Genna Beier: I just purchased an '80s power suit, I'm going to tear it up a little bit, and then carry around a big check that says $700 billion with the nametag Mrs. Lehman.

Jefferson Smith: I've been going back and forth between being the bailout or being the invisible hand.

After Halloween, Jefferson Smith will become a very visible hand on the economy. He's running unopposed as a Democrat for a seat in the Oregon Legislature next Tuesday.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.


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