29.9.08

Wall Street meltdown?

Many people attribute the United States' current financial troubles to Wall Street. True or not, it would be wise perhaps to find out more about Wall Street. I started to feed my curiosity by asking certain questions:

1. Is Wall Street really a street?

From Wikipedia: Wall Street is a street in lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It runs east from Broadway downhill to South Street on the East River, through the historical center of the Financial District. Wall Street was the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange; over time Wall Street became the name of the surrounding geographic neighborhood. Wall Street is also shorthand (or a metonym) for "influential financial interests" in the U.S. as well as for the financial industry in the New York City area.

Wall Street, more than anything, represents financial and economic power. To Americans, Wall Street can sometimes represent elitism and power politics and cut-throat capitalism, but it also stirs feelings of pride about the market economy. Wall Street became the symbol of a country and economic system that many Americans see as having developed not through colonialism and plunder, but through trade, capitalism, and innovation.

2. Who are the people behind Wall Street?

From Wikipedia: Wall Street is commonly used interchangeably with the phrase "Corporate America", and sometimes used in contrast to distinguish between the interests, culture, and lifestyles of investment banks and those of Fortune 500 industrial or service corporations.

3. Wall Street culture, is there such a thing?

From Wikipedia: Wall Street's culture is often criticized as being rigid. This is a decades-old stereotype stemming from the Wall Street's establishment's protection of their interests, and the link to the WASP establishment. More recent criticism has centered on structural problems and lack of a desire to change well-established habits. Wall Street's establishment resists government oversight and regulation. At the same time, New York City has a reputation as a very bureaucratic city, which makes entry into the neighborhood difficult or even impossible for middle class entrepreneurs.

4. What or who are the WASPs?

From Wikipedia: Stands for White Anglo Saxon Protestant, considered to be a sociological and ethnic grouping that originated from the United States.

The term originated in reference to White Americans of Anglo-Saxon descent, who were Protestant in religious affiliation. However, the term does not have a precise definition, and can be used to describe greatly differing groups. It initially applied to people with histories in the upper class Northeastern establishment, who were alleged to form a powerful elite.

Working class whites in the U.S. are generally not referred to as "WASPs", even if they are Protestants of Anglo-Saxon descent. The word white is redundant, since Anglo-Saxons — whether in the strict or popular sense of the term — are always white.

Strictly speaking, many people now referred to as "WASPs" are not Anglo-Saxon – that is, the descendants of the Germanic peoples, who settled in Britain between the 5th century and the Norman Conquest. However, in modern North American usage, WASP may include Protestants, from Dutch, German, Huguenot (French Protestant), Scandinavian, Scottish, Scots-Irish and Welsh backgrounds. Therefore, the term WASP is sometimes applied to individuals who are technically non-Anglo-Saxons. The more famous WASPs include the Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, Rockefeller, Astor, Du Pont , Carnegie, Mellon families being of Dutch, German, French, Scots and Scots-Irish descent, respectively.

Essentially, I think, WASPs rule the financial landscape of the United States and perhaps provide a large influence on global economy. So, what is the connection of WASPs to Wall Street 'greed'?

My two cents unsolicited answer - when you have the elite running the financial show, whose wealth is preserved first when there's an economic glut?

Your answer is as good as mine :-)

The entire readings in this post are based on Wikipedia Wall Street entries found here and here.

My thanks to Wikipedia.