Wall Street Market | The New Wall Street

Wall Street Market

The New Wall Street | A Changing Market

Here is a short excerpt from an article by Andy Kessler, one of my favorite hedge fund managers turned authors:

Before the last of Wall Street gets sold off as day-old fish on Fulton Street or washed into the East River altogether it's worth asking, what is Wall Street these days anyway?

Thanks to Dick Grasso and CNBC, most of us think of Wall Street as balding men in ugly solid-colored suits yelling at each other and throwing litter on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Not even close. They might as well be holograms from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, just a hangover of years gone by. Or maybe Wall Street is stockbrokers, calling you at dinnertime, trying to put you into a few shares of some hot IPO. Or sleek bankers, guys (mostly) in gray Armani suits, blue shirts with white collars, and Herm├Ęs ties, jetting off to London to close some important deal. Not anymore.

So what is it? From 40,000 feet, Wall Street is about access to capital. The stock market trades every weekday, and sometimes slowly, sometimes violently, picks the economy's winners and losers. Actually, it's not the market, it's you and me, our mutual funds and pension plans, the collective "we," that do the picking via our buying and selling. It's nice to be needed. You may not even realize it, but magically, the value of companies with great prospects goes up, meaning they can raise capital much more cheaply to hire smart programmers or build another solar-panel factory. The flip side is that the price of companies doing all the wrong things (think General Motors and
now Lehman Brothers) goes down, starving them of capital, a punishment for screwing up, until they disappear or do something to turn themselves around. The stock market, which is really you and me, does the dirty work of hiring and firing managers and green-lighting or killing projects. Pretty cool.

On the street level, of course, Wall Street is a lot nastier. After 20 years in the business, when I think of Wall Street, I think of alpha dogs generating revenue however they can: getting deals done, fighting for market share against all the other firms, and then at the end of the year, on the inside of their firms, unsheathing the political knives to carve up the ever growing bonus pool, and maybe also carve up each other. Wall Street is really just a compensation scheme. Firms generate sales, and employees get half the money. Yes, half. The rest, after expenses goes to shareholders. Sweet deal. Read more...

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