Jeremy Hobson: Emergency responders are focused this morning on the terrible flooding from Hurricane Irene in Vermont and upstate New York. Meanwhile, in New York City the transit system is coming back online for the Monday morning rush hour after an unprecedented shutdown over the weekend.
Marketplace’s New York bureau chief Heidi Moore is live with us for more on the great re-start and what it means for Wall Street. Good morning.
Heidi Moore: Good morning.
Hobson: So first of all — New York City is in startup mode right now. Heidi, what’s it like out there?
Moore: Well, to put it in movie terms — it could have been “Waterworld,” but now it’s sort of like “Mad Max.” There aren’t a lot of people out on the streets, a lot of people clearly stayed home. Subways are working, but the trains that serve the bedroom communities to the north and west of the city — Metro-North and New Jersey transit are out. And people are dealing with flooding, with trees down. Of course, a lot of Wall Street firms started to prepare for that last week. Goldman Sachs, for instance, gave its employees vouchers for a car service. Of course, by last night, that car service was completely booked.
Hobson: So, what is the effect, then, on the financial system this morning — if any?
Moore: It’s been a huge lucky break for everybody. Everything is up and running, and everyone who’s non-essential is staying home. And think of the alternative — it could have been terrible if you had sea water, ocean water, coming into downtown Manhattan, it could have taken out the entire power grid. Now of course, we have data centers, back-up generators in other places — but it could have been ugly.
Hobson: Now Heidi, you mentioned that the trains are not running to what you called the “bedroom communities” outside New York — those are also, some of them, places like Greenwich, Conn. and Stamford, Conn., Jersey City — those are financial hubs themselves, right?
Moore: That’s right, they have a lot of the data centers that keep Wall Street running, and a lot of the employees that keep Wall Street running. And so, a lot of them could find ways to get into the office because they drive. But, that’s not the case for everybody. And what really helped was overpreparation by a lot of the firms. They told them, “Listen, if you can’t come in, you can work from home.” And that of course is completely possible. For firms like JP Morgan or the NYSE or NASDAQ, they all started testing their systems and bringing in generators in the middle of last week. So, they never really got past the monitoring stage, but they were prepared for a 9-11 type disaster.
Hobson: So it’s not too difficult to work from home if you work on Wall Street?
Moore: That’s right. I mean, you have to imagine — it’s a global world, a lot of Wall Street people are set up to work when they’re traveling. So, they have what they need — unless they’re traders. If you’re a trader, you do need to be on the trading floor. But everyone else can work remotely. They have Blackberrys and laptops.
Hobson: Marketplace’s New York bureau chief Heidi Moore. Heidi, thanks.
Moore: Thank you.
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