Wall Street is a place of legendary stress. And legendary techniques for stress relief. Jim Cramer was once famous for smashing computer key boards. John Mack used to pulverize telephones. We once had an M&A bigshot throw an entire telephone console at us. There are therapists who specialize in dealing with the stresses of life in finance.
And, of course, there are drugs. Lots of drugs. New York City is famously awash in drugs these days. In fact, just the other day a journalist asked us to put her in touch with “Wall Street types who smoke a lot of pot.” We don’t know exactly how to take the assumption that we know about these things but we couldn’t help her anyway. Most of the folks we know prefer their recreation in other forms.
According to an article in the newly businessy BusinessWeek, the use of hard drugs is greatly diminished from the days of yore. And it’s all the fault of Wharton. Or something.
While Wall Street still has its rough edges, the culture is far more straitlaced today than in past eras. "It's more institutionalized," says one hedge fund manager. It's no longer acceptable to deal with your stress by hurling a computer on the floor or by indulging in drink, drugs, or alcohol. As a practical matter, the threat of a lawsuit is much higher than before. And traders are generally a more professional group than in past decades. "There weren't as many Wharton MBAs on the scene during the 80s," says the fund manager, who spoke on condition that he not be identified.
Today, when drugs are employed against stress, they're more likely to be the prescription variety. Another hedge fund manager, speaking on condition of anonymity, says he has been taking antidepressants for years. While his work didn't cause his depression, it can exacerbate it. That can lead to a modification in medication or work habits. He once even closed a particularly troublesome fund at the urging of his wife, who said it was leading to severe stress that was affecting his behavior and disrupting their marriage.
There certainly are a lot more people in finance putting on the Ritz and taking the A-Train—that is, taking Ritalin and Adderall—than there were in the days before the little pills that could were invented. But is usage of the hard stuff really down as far as the article claims? If so, then Wall Street must have been under a permanent blizzard in those days.
Gives new meaning to the idea of not trusting anyone over forty. They’re probably a drug addict.
Stressed Out on Wall Street [Business Week]