During the past week, I walked around the streets of NYC studying the faces of passersby, trying to survey if the financial crisis could be detected on their countenances. There is no way of telling who lost of their home, retirement savings or job by the way New Yorkers are moving about the City. On Thursday evening, Sephora's in Union Square was packed with female consumers buying cosmetics, with the ease and urgency of finding the right color palette for one's face. Patrons at restaurants where I ate brunch on Saturday and later that evening showed no sign of global economic distress. Perhaps I need to hang out in one of the bars near the Stock Exchange to grasp the pain or to pay attention to foreclosure sign in the Tribeca neighborhood.
Twenty percent of NYC's tax revenues come from people who work in the financial sector. Last I read, unemployment figures during the Bear & Stearns debacle ended employment for 24,000 employees. The number must be closer to 85,000. The impact of disappearing income affects every sector in the City from the person who sells donuts and coffee at a street cart to the agents selling lofts in Tribeca. Are these people mourning silently and putting on a good face for the public? Not all of those knocked from the rosters of investment firms can ride it out with their savings or return home to their parents' home in New Jersey.