Tuesday, September 16, 2008

THE MARKET ON THE STREET

Washington Post - If you're one of those Manhattan-haters who hopes the city has been truly smacked upside the head by all the grim news out of Wall Street, listen to Alan Matarasso, a plastic surgeon with an office on Park Avenue. In recent months, there's been little drop-off in the number of face pulls, breast augmentations and tummy tucks he does. Actually, he says, the turmoil has caused an uptick in a certain type of client: the laid-off, mid-career executive who wants to hit the job market looking as taut as possible. The only hint of bad news is that some clients are suddenly getting cost-conscious -- for instance, the teenager who recently came in for a nose job. "I had worked on three of her siblings," Matarasso said. "Now, normally I charge $9,000 for a nose job, but we knew for a fact that her father had had a change in situation, so we worked with that person. We didn't charge an operating room fee, which is about $2,000.". . .

A few Lehman-ites have put their homes in the Hamptons on the market in the last couple of days. . . and others have pulled out of negotiations on deals that were imminent. A lot of potential buyers and sellers are in holding-pattern mode, waiting for a hint about what's coming next. . .

Here's what else New York has going for it these days: foreigners. Lots and lots of foreigners. They're coming to town and picking up where U.S. buyers are leaving off. Gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch says that in the past six months, his business would have cooled were it not for all the Russians, Middle Easterners and Asian buyers who took up the slack. "One of the biggest problems in the art market now is that when people come from the Middle East, they have such a humiliatingly long time getting through JFK Airport some of them aren't coming anymore," Deitch said. "You write for a Washington audience. Tell them we need visa reform!"

Without foreigners, the high-end hair stylist who calls herself Ouidad -- that's it, just Ouidad -- would be in the red. In her salon near 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, she noticed lately that a lot of American clients who once came every 10 weeks for a cut are now coming every 13.

The caterers. . . are already groaning. Bryan Jacobsen, who runs a company called CEM, now earns a measly 1 percent profit on many of the events he bids to cater. "I used to charge about $14,000 for a 100-person cocktail party," he said. "Now, I'm lucky to charge $9,000." Just as bad, the phones aren't ringing for holiday parties. "I should be getting about five or six calls a day, and I'm getting about three per week. The party is always the first thing to go. They cut what they consider fat."

Times UK
- Shocked Lehman workers packed up and left without knowing whether they would be paid. There were tears, hugs and the solace of alcohol for those who left Canary Wharf yesterday with their possessions in cardboard boxes. But the collapse of Lehman Brothers spread so far and so fast yesterday that across the capital it was felt even by West London poodles.

Lucy Kennedy, who runs a dog-walking business in Kensington, lost business almost immediately. A Lehman employee had phoned that morning to tell her that he no longer needed a professional to look after his poodle. “I’ve also had customers who have decided to get their dogs rehomed, to save the expense,” she said. . .

About 5,000 Lehman staff lost their jobs yesterday with no guarantee that they would be paid up to date, no payoff and no pension. Many had bought homes or borrowed heavily on the back of share options that made them paper millionaires - but which are now worthless.

For 24-year-old Edouard d’Archimbaud, it was supposed to be the beginning of a new career as a trader. But he was intercepted on the way to his desk and told that his first day would also be his last. “Everybody is fired,” he said. “A friend of mine working for a French investment bank told me a joke last week that Lehman Brothers employees were putting only L5 on their canteen cards so they would not lose any money. It was a joke, but now it is a reality.”

Mark Exley, a former Lehman Brothers trader who had 11 years of bonuses locked in as shares until next year, watched helplessly as his dreams of early retirement evaporated. . . “For managing directors, 50 or 60 per cent of their bonuses were paid in stock, so for some people that would mean $2.5 million to $3 million. I know a lot of people at Lehman who have spent the money already - they have bought holiday homes or other things.”. . .

Sphinx Patterson, 35, who until yesterday ran fitness classes for the bank’s employees, described the reaction at Canary Wharf, in East London. “Girls were crying, men were hugging each other,” he said. . .

Nearby pubs were doing good business. Michael Barrington-Hibbert, a director of Odgers Search, a City recruitment agency, headed to the Slug & Lettuce pub yesterday morning with a pack of 200 business cards, certain that he would pick up some business. “I’ve seen senior Lehman managers going round the bars, handing out their CVs. One agency has set up a registration desk at the Reebok gym, all the headhunters are down here.”

Telegraph, UK - Sphinx Patterson, the inscrutably-nicknamed personal trainer employed to keep bodies fit and minds sharp, took the day off. There were no takers for body pump and step. People were too busy looking for jobs. "People are in total disbelief," Mr Patterson said. "People are just hugging each other, having a drink in the bar upstairs, the cleaners are slumped on the floor, everyone is wondering what to do next.". . .

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