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Marketplace Tech
The Real Economy

Today’s Wall Street: Bigger, stronger — and in Midtown

Kai Ryssdal Apr 23, 2012
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Kai Ryssdal: It’s about four and a half miles from Zuccotti Park, and all the symbolism of what happened down at the south end of Manhattan, to the reality of where Wall Street actually is today. It’s actually Midtown, and the big banks, where we arrive at act three of our story. The final stop.


Ryssdal: This is Broadway and 48th Street. Morgan Stanley’s right there, but why are we here?

Heidi Moore: We’re here because Morgan Stanley is a survivor of the financial crisis. And we like to see survivors, but also it’s an indication of how far we’ve come and how far we haven’t. Morgan Stanley is bigger; a lot of banks are bigger, in fact, they’re 25 percent bigger. And there’s a lot more concentration of the financial system in a fewer number of hands. Which is the opposite of what we wanted.

Ryssdal: But I thought we had all that fixed, right? Dodd-Frank and financial reform, and the things that Washington has been talking about four years now.

Moore: Well if Washington delivered the way that it talked, maybe we’d be in a better situation right now. But you know, this is not just a giant skyscraper — it is a political football. And it’s a way to run a campaign, to talk about the economy and the financial markets, and what we’ve learned is that the financial markets — banks like Morgan Stanley, banks like Barclays, Goldman Sachs — have a lot more control over the economy, that the rest of us live through, than ever before.

Ryssdal: New York’s a big place. So there are plenty of buildings or street corners we could have used to tell the economic story of the last four years. Thing is, though, what regular people talk about when they talk about the economy isn’t usually Wall Street. It’s getting a job or saving money. Paying for basics like gas and food or dealing with student loan debt.

That’s the economy this election’s gonna be about.

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