While Wall Street was yo-yoing through a week from hell, the madness wasn’t just confined to trading desks and exchange floors.
Look Up, Washington & Wall Street, There’s a Message for You
“Thanks for the downgrade, you should all be fired.” Lucy Nobbe, a single mom from Kirkwood, Mo. and a broker with Wedbush Morgan Securities, paid (reportedly $895) to have that banner ad pulled through the skies over lower Manhattan for two hours on Tuesday. Nobbe said her anger wasn’t meant for Standard & Poor’s, which downgraded U.S. debt last Friday, or for the rest of Wall Street. Mostly it was aimed at Washington lawmakers who turned the debt-ceiling debate into a globally embarrassing debacle. But since D.C. has a no-fly zone, she settled for New York instead. "I thought that is something that I could do that wouldn't cost a million dollars and maybe someone would listen to me," said Nobbe.
Nobbe’s sign inspired another one, two days later, with the more cryptic—and blatantly commercial—message: "Downgrade hurts but USD no ruble. Always be frugal." That one was bought by Boston-based businessman Jon Lal who was looking to promote a website he owns, BeFrugal.com. On the site’s blog Lal expounded on his intended message:
“Also, in the current panicky reaction to the downgrade, we must not forget that the USA’s worldwide credibility, and the US Dollar’s value as the worldwide reserve currency, remains strong. In short, the USD is no Russian Ruble.
The American consumer has been forced to be frugal, watch their income vs expenses, and manage their debt very carefully for some time. Now it is time for Washington to do the same.”
The New York Post’s Genteel Guide to Market Upheaval
Tuesday’s stomach-churning market ride made for plenty of blaring newspaper headlines, but none got quite as much attention as the New York Post’s even-more-risqué-than-usual front-page take: "Crazy Stox like a hooker's drawers... UP, DOWN, UP," accompanied by a smoking—literally—brunette. Drawers—how quaint! The cover raised plenty of hackles and drew mocking praise from Stephen Colbert. "This, folks, this is analysis that everyone can understand,” said Colbert on his show (watch video below). “I personally look forward to more of this kind of analysis.” Colbert then offered up some other prospective Post cover lines, such as “London just like a hooker’s genitals…BURNING!” and “New York Post front page like hooker…WILL SAY ANYTHING TO GET YOUR MONEY!” Stay classy, New York Post.
Capitalizing on the Seat of Bernie Madoff’s Pants
What do you get the tech-savvy financier who, before this week at least, seemed to already have everything? Frederick James, a company started by New York entrepreneur John Vacarro, has the answer: iPad cases made of Bernie Madoff’s old wardrobe. Since the convicted Ponzi schemer will be spending his remaining years wearing prison garb, New York entrepreneur John Vacarro bought much of Madoff’s old clothing when it was sold at auctions held by the U.S. Marshals Service. Vacarro turned the sweaters and khakis from brands like J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Ralph Lauren Polo into the Bernie Madoff collection, a line of iPad covers that have been selling for between $250 and $500 each. (The Frederick James website says certificates of authenticity are available upon request.) One Wall Street lawyer reportedly bought five at $500 each for Christmas gifts. After all, a little retail therapy might help soothe Wall Streeters’ frayed nerves.