Wall Street Spending Habits Flirting With Dangerously Déclassé Territory

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Gang, something serious has come up and we need to nip it in the bud before it goes any further. As you may have heard, bonuses at hedge funds, private equity firms, and so forth are expected to be up this year, which is wonderful news. As you may have also heard, bonuses at big banks are expected to fall anywhere from ten to forty percent, which is less great news. Especially when it means witnessing scenes like the following.

This holiday season, many Wall Streeters are flying commercial, according to jet brokers. Those who are still flying private are jet-pooling with strangers to cut costs. Some are even skipping the catered in-flight meals, which can cost $1,000 or more for four people. "They're telling me, 'We'll just bring our own lunch,' " said Ricky Sitomer, chief executive of Blue Star Jets, a private-jet charter company. "They still want to travel in luxury, but they want the best value they can get."

And it gets worse. Brown-bagging is just the beginning

According to Jeff Drajin, who presides over the showroom at Manhattan Motorcars, no one has come in yet this year, despite December historically being prime time for his customers to at least come take a look if not a touch. Jewelry and watchmaker Wempe says "business is booming" but it's all coming from "rich Chinese and Brazilians, not Wall Streeters," the latter having "other issues to contend with, like a roof over their head." And while we're on the topic of roofs, 12,000 square feet summer homes are being swapped for 6,000 to 8,000 square feet- let's just call them what they are- shacks. But the most disturbing trend of all?

Jonathan Beckett, CEO of yacht brokerage firm Burgess, said demand for weekly yacht rentals in the Caribbean this winter is "quite poor," in part because of Wall Street. In previous years, yachts in the Caribbean were booked months in advance for the prime week after Christmas. This year, there are dozens of boats up to 250 feet long still available. The boats usually charter for between $250,000 to $1 million a week—food, beverages and fuel not included.

Bankers booking boats are discount shopping, with some charters seeing price cuts of 20% or more, Mr. Beckett says. Many are also booking cheaper, shorter trips. "They used to call up and say, 'I want this boat on this date, just send me the contract,' " Mr. Beckett says. "Now they're saying, 'Who's giving the best deals?' "

Deals? This is how it starts. First it's "who's giving the best deals?" then it's "let's wait 'til it goes on sale." Before you know it you're sticking to a budget and next year? You're taking the day after Thanksgiving to line up at have your weave knocked off in a stampede for flat screens.

Wall Street Bonuses Mean Restrained Indulgences [WSJ]

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