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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]


James Gorman Will Say Something Nice About Wall Street When Wall Street Earns It

If you're looking for a cheerleader, go bark up another tree. “Say you want to be out ahead of it and give a lot of speeches and talk about all the good we’re doing,” Gorman said today at an industry conference in New York. “And then some trader does some stupid thing like this guy at UBS did and he’s in jail and all bets are off,” Gorman said. He was referring to Kweku Adoboli, the UBS AG trader convicted of fraud this month in the largest unauthorized trading loss in British history...Traders at New York-based Morgan Stanley had too much latitude in the past, “what I call having an outsized sandbox,” Gorman, 54, said at the conference, which was sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. “Until we can be really confident we’ve got discipline around the sandboxes, I think you have to be really careful not to be holier than thou,” Gorman said. “We’re going to be in the doghouse for a while.” Incidentally, this would a good time to mention that Gorman's bonus policy instituted last January-- STFU or GTFO-- still stands.

Bonus Watch '12: Half Of Wall Street Feeling Pretty Positive About Pay Day

Now that we're nearly halfway through October, several items on your to-do list will have undoubtedly been upgraded in urgency: scouring Starbucks near and far for for Pumpkin Spice lattes before it's too late, and being dead serious in telling the baristas at the various locations claiming unavailability that they've ruined your life; coming up with a Halloween costume that's at once slutty and topical; and discussing bonus expectations. Despite the fact that bank CEOs and people who speak on their behalf have suggested (by saying outright) that pay will come down this year, and that anyone who still has a job in 3-4 months should consider that their bonus, some on Wall Street are apparently predicting they'll do pretty well for themselves this year and very well circa 2015. There seems to be a disconnect between what Wall Street execs have been reading lately and what they believe. Nearly half (48%) of them surveyed by eFinancialCareers expect their bonus to be higher this year despite recent news reports to the contrary...Of those who believe bonuses will increase in the next three years, over half (53%) are convinced bonuses will return to 2006-2007 levels. For those not as confident their take-home will soon revert back to the glory days and looking to make a change into a more lucrative field Bloomberg today notes that "welders top banking pay."* Despite news reports that Wall Street bonuses will be down, more Wall Streeters are expecting them to be higher [eF] Wall Street to Cut Pay Instead of Jobs, Graseck Says [BW] Caterpillar’s Worker Hunt Means Welders Top Banking Pay [Bloomberg] Related: Layoffs/Bonus Watch '12/'13: Morgan Stanley *...Though not until 15th paragraph is it noted that they're actually talking about 'bank tellers,' which seems less than helpful to the audience.