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Laid-off Wall Streeters want regulations

Christopher Miraldi

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: Wall Street's losses aren't just reflected in share values.
The state of New York expects some 40,000 financial sector jobs will be lost because of the crisis. As part of our election series "Interested Parties," Jeremy Hobson caught with some ex-Wall Streeters to find out what they're expecting from the next administration.


Jeremy Hobson:
So this was your building here, One State Street Plaza?

Bryan Tackett: Yup.

Hobson: And you used to come here every day?

Tackett: Every single day. Yup.

Bryan Tackett is 28. Until recently, he worked for a mid-sized insurance broker in New York's financial district.

Tackett: You know we dealt with these private equity and alternative investment folks that were piggy backing off of mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations and whatnot to fund their ventures and now that that's no longer there, there's no need for me to be looking at the deals and evaluating the insurance so yeah, I would say 100 percent I am a direct casualty of what's gone on in the financial markets right now.

We walk a few blocks away to Battery Park--thousands of financial employees come here in the middle of their work day to snack, walk, or just sit facing the nearby Statue of Liberty. Tackett says he places much of the blame on greed in the private sector. But he says...

Tackett:
Government regulation would have been at least a way to take care of the problem. I think that the other thing is that there were no ethics involved from the private sector. I mean, I think these guys saw the dollar signs and they continued to just do what they were gonna do because they knew that they weren't going to lose any money or at least that's what they thought.

Hobson: We're coming up on the Presidential election. Is this going to figure into how you vote?

Tackett: Absolutely. But I think, you know, looking at everybody else who's the better candidate to help take care of everybody and not just me.

Tacket wants the next President to have a better grasp of the financial services industry, so he can do a better job of regulating it. So does 46-year-old Christopher Miraldi. I caught up with him in Central Park.
He spent 20 years in the business. Most recently selling Wachovia's financial products to international clients. He was laid off in February.

Hobson: What did they tell you?

Christopher Miraldi: Basically that, you know the bank, there were losses. And my that job was being eliminated. I asked twice if it was performance related and they said no.

Miraldi will be fine for the moment. He started saving his bonuses a couple years ago, and says he could live for months without working. But he says Washington needs to get its priorities straight.

Miraldi: The government really needs to look at the banking system as a critical industry. What would it be like if we had no regulation in meat and poultry? The market would not regulate itself. You would have garbage on your shelves. Why do they think it's going to be any different with banking?

Hobson: Do you think that Washington can create the kinds of regulations that Wall Street types won't be able to just get around?

Miraldi: You know Wall Street's very clever. I think that they can always get around things but I think someone who understands the industry will create the proper regulations.

Miraldi isn't just thinking about regulation of the industry he once worked in. He's got a new concern. When he lost his job, he lost his health care.

Miraldi: Having health care tied to your job is absolutely ludicrous because at precisely the moment when you do get downsized, all of a sudden your health care costs jump through the roof with COBRA.

Perhaps most of all, though, he says he just wants the next President to be straight with the American people.

Miraldi: We can take bad news. We're not going to fall apart. Telling people, you know, sugar coating things is not really going to help because then they get angry. And when you're angry you can't think logically.

Both of these ex-Wall Streeters are holding out hope for jobs. Bryan Tackett is networking and sending out resumes. Christopher Miraldi is thinking about regulating the industry he once worked for. He's also considering getting out of the business altogether, teaching English abroad. Both Tackett and Miraldi plan to vote next month.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Log in to post3 Comments

I had the privelege of meeting Christopher Maraldi last summer and I agree with his comments. I see this whole process of change as a learning curve in our society. Within this chaos we can grasp the opportunity to create a sustainable survival process that will benefit humanity at home and abroad. America, Canada is with you.

What Hank Tilbury says about my comments that Americans can take bad news is sadly correct. Mr. Tilbury understands the mindless cheerleading that our speakers (I will not call them leaders)use. Reality is harsh. Americans want to be "lied to" and would rather talk about stem cell research or prayer in the schools than economics. At the end of 2007, I was having brunch with a large group of friends. Another person in fiancial services was at the table and we were describing how bad things would get in 2008, 2009 and beyond (half of which has already happened and the other half we are waiting for).
Would you believe the people at the table, many of whom are my friends said, "You are scaring us" so we changed the topic. People would rather talk about TV or a recent movie than talk about reality. I guess this is the new America. Maybe this ugly crisis will force people to look at their lives and government differently. But then again, maybe not...... Only time will tell.

Mr. Miraldi says "we can take bad news". I'd like to think this is true, but does anybody remember Jimmy Carter telling us we would have to turn the thermostat down and wear a sweater indoors? His message was met with scorn and ridicule, and we turned him out in exchange for Ronald Reagan, who is still praised for telling us "everything is OK".

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