Going from Riches to Nothing

By: Greg Jackson

The Wall Street Journal has begun divulging how the New York financial sector is in such awful straits right now that some previous stock gurus have gone to the lowly life of working for a source of revenue. For instance, take Carlos Araya. He once used to be the Wall Street executive you would see ordering expensive dinners at the Palm Restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Now, he waits tables at the restaurant. As Wall Street started to hurt, he lost his work as a crude oil trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange in 2007. After horrible luck at finding a new job in the investment business, he applied in August 2008 to be a host at the Palm to make end’s meet. He is making just over 10 percent of his original salary.

Some ex- investment brokers, used to doing high end jobs that they are well trained for and making salaries some people would kill for, are required to accept low-wage work because they just cannot convert their experience and training into a job like the one they lost. Now, Mr. Araya is heading in the direction of bankruptcy and is convinced that he will never go back to the investment game.

Regrettably, there are thousands of stories such as this one. Nearly 25,000 jobs have been misplaced in the financial segment in New York alone since August 2007. Before 2012, that figure is supposed to climb up to 56,800. This figure began building in 2007 during the financial hiccup that was a predecessor to our current downturn, in which Araya lost his occupation.

John Carbonaro lost his profession with Bank of America as a floor clerk in January 2009, and in spite of his skill and attraction, at present takes care of the domestic duties in the family. Joe Morrone, a previous Prudential trading clerk, has been unemployed for two years and struggles to support his daughters and grandson. He has worked in a deli, as a doorman, and a bouncer. He used to own three cars for just his own use. Now he shares one family vehicle they fight to finance.

Araya from time to time sees past colleagues from Wall Street in the Palm at the time his shifts. Some are pleasant meetings, offering support. Other meetings are not so pleasant. “The way they look at you, you know they’re thinking unhelpfully,” he says. Others come in asking if they can get a job at the restaurant too. With 25,000 laid off, it’s certain many of them wish a job there.

Araya’s daughter asked him if they might afford their house or if they would have to move. He told her he was not sure. She asked him if he knew the amount of money the family required. “The way she looked at me,” Araya says, “I could tell she was thinking about getting the money in her piggy bank.” The psychologically unbearable conversation with his daughter caused him to run into the bathroom and sob. “At the end of the week, I get my paycheck and I think, ‘I used to make this much in a day,’” he adds.

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