Amidst the tumult of nationwide protests, it’s reassuring to know that we haven’t totally forgotten the unsung victims of the stagnant economy:
Bankers aren’t optimistic about [private sector] gains. Options Group’s [Michael] Karp [a headhunter] said he met last month over tea at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York with a trader who made $500,000 last year at one of the six largest U.S. banks.
The trader, a 27-year-old Ivy League graduate, complained that he has worked harder this year and will be paid less. The headhunter told him to stay put and collect his bonus.
“This is very demoralizing to people,” Karp said. “Especially young guys who have gone to college and wanted to come onto the Street, having dreams of becoming millionaires.”
Working hard. Drinking tea. Getting rebuffed by headhunters. And no longer making 500k.
It’s a long, winding road from the crucible of the college frat house to the laurels of Wall Street, isn’t it? (No, not really, but play along for a second.) Wharton Follies, the semi-self aware Penn student theater troupe, has put out a video charting the evolution of an MBA from his primitive state — a bearded, slick-haired, shake-weight-and-Four-Loko-pounding douche bag — to his final incarnation — a clean-shaven, slick-haired, platinum card-wielding douche bag on the cover of Fortune magazine. Time-lapsed video has never felt so fucking rad. (If by “rad” you mean sweat-stained, Jager-bombed, felonious and probably syphilitic.)
You feel left out, Harvard. We get it. While Columbia, Dartmouth and Cornell each snagged the public spotlight with a string of absurd drug busts this winter, Cambridge has been, by comparison, narco-free.
Maybe that would explain the first two episodes of “Longest-Running College Soap Opera” Ivory Tower’s eighth season. The show — hosted by Harvard Undergraduate Television and wholly student-produced (which explains a lot) — launched its new year with what can only be described as the least likeable leading man in the illustrious (read: dubious) and long (read: not long) history of Ivy League comedic Internet soaps.
His name is Mark, and when we’re first introduced he’s a jittery, nervous mess, staring at a half-naked Baby Boomer heaped over a pile of prescription pills. (Holiday party got a little wild this year, am i right?) Then the show flashes back an hour or so to reveal our hero (meh) standing around, decked out in suit and tie and nodding smugly as his internal monologue rages, unfettered.
In two years, Mark will graduate from Harvard. In five years, he will be an investment banker at a top Wall Street firm. (Try not to imagine all the requisite reach-arounds in the intervening time.) In ten years, Mark will be worth millions, and in thirteen, he will be retired. (And sometime thereafter he’ll become an eighth-level Thetan and discover the secrets of L. Ron Hubbard’s underpants. But I digress.) In the mean time, he occupies himself with delusions of grandeur and manages the finances of a drug ring run by his friend, Danny.
If “That Yale Thing” is doing blow and concealing one’s sexuality, could it be that “That Harvard Thing” is being a frumpy jackass with few discernible social skills but plans for world domination? Certainly seems the case!
Mark is the student chaperon for a Wall Street executive visiting Cambridge to deliver a lecture on how the free market rocks his socks. Our protagonist (meh) idolizes Mr. Wall Street with the fervor of a Branch Davidian, though it seems everyone else is content to bring said banker down a notch or two for ruining the economy and doing tons of blow in yesteryear.
Anyway, let’s make this quick. Mark is convinced that the guy will give him a prestigious internship at his firm for, umm, being a swell host or something. Then BFF Danny gets the CEO wasted on Qualudes or whatever, and he passes out mid-lecture. Then Mark and Danny have to hide him from some annoying, squirrely Crimson reporter and Mark’s rival, who may or may not be the little brother from Freaks and Geeks. (Unconfirmed.) In addition, everybody keeps telling Mark that he smells really good. And his girlfriend Fiona is pregnant. This is dumb.
No word on when the third’s coming out (anxiously anticipating!!!) but it should probably be sometime soon. Joy.
Last week, Harvard President Drew Faust sent out a university-wide email detailing to what extent the school of swank would be impacted by the global economic crisis. In short, Harvard “has weathered many storms” (read: “has lined their pockets well”) but will suffer some set-backs in coming months. The fortune few will ride this one out with some paycuts and constraints. According to Dr. Faust:
Harvard is not invulnerable to the seismic financial shocks in the larger world. Our own economic landscape has been significantly altered. We will need to plan and act in ways that reflect that reality, to assure that we continue to advance our priorities for teaching, research, and service.
Thank God: Harvard is going to focus on teaching and research again. For a second, it looked like the nation’s oldest institute of higher learning just enabled psychopaths and racial profilers. The announcement from President Faust, Larry Summer’s replacement in Massachusetts Hall, sounds less like a policy shift than it does a PR stunt. Just 6 weeks ago, the Harvard Management Corporation (HMC), a bunch of suits who control the fate of the universe—err, the endowment—announced 8.6% growth on Harvard’s already gargantuan $36.9 billion portfolio as Standard & Poor’s lost 3.6%. Break out the $100-bill-scented tissues.
While the next Dear “John Harvard” letter from the HMC isn’t due until next summer, Harvard shows no signs of tightening the belt so far. In her letter, President Faust emboldened the college’s commitment to providing full rides to students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year. Meanwhile, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government just shelled out $10 million for a program to train emerging leaders from developing countries. [Insert: "Not so evil after all" comment here.]
Read Faust’s letter in full along with some sob-stories about poor, jobless HBS grads after the break.
I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not wothy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.
Contemplation on the nature of capitalism, advice for government reform, and a paean to marijuana (which explains a lot):
Ah, the female. The evil female plant — marijuana. It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not result in bar fights or wife beating. So why is this innocuous plant illegal? [...] This policy is ludicrous. It has surely contributed to our dependency on foreign energy sources.
Basically, this is the clearest signal possible that everyone with wealth and/or employment in hedge funds should bail immediately. Choice blogsphere commentary and The Complete and Unabridged Andrew Lahde Goodbye Letter, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
Amid all the hoopla about the vice presidential debate, you may have noticed that the Dow tanked again yesterday. Wait, you didn’t notice? You were too busy picturing Sarah Palin running naked through the Alaskan wilderness? Well, the Dow dropped around 350 points–in other words, we’re back to Monday. Things are looking bleak. But believe it or not, not everyone on Wall Street is going to be fired. Ron, a pseudonymous Ivy grad working at Citibank as an analyst explains why he’s confident:
No stop it. I’m not the least bit afraid. They would never replace a citi banker with one from WB (Wachovia Bank). Today, during interviews, when they rejected a kid, they joked that he was “a BofA kind of guy.” And BofA (Bank of America) is better than WB.
Bank of America is for losers? Tell us something we don’t know. But you know who’s really going to be losing out? You, if you’re applying for a banking job this year. According to Nathan, another pseudonymous Ivy banker working for a boutique i-bank:
The class of 09′ is done. They can kiss their banking/trading careers goodbye. Let’s just say [unnamed bulge bracket i-bank] analyst class this yr was around 70 kids. In 07, it was around 130 kids. This yr (09′) I predict around 30-40 kids at most.
IvyGate has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, New York Observer, Newsweek, New Yorker, and other publications, as well as NBC, MSNBC, Fox News, Drudge Report, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Wonkette, Jezebel, The Awl, and many more. Most are horrified.