The current economic landscape of America is downright frightening. The credit market is in shambles thanks to the incentive of risky lending and an infusion of bad loans into the balance books of banks.
The loans that Americans depend on to run their businesses, send their children to college and buy their homes are vanishing. If the credit crunch wasn't enough to have Americans fearing an economic meltdown, the thousands of layoffs that followed should be.
As the stock market continues to weaken, and companies find it harder and harder to borrow money, the employees of even the biggest companies are facing cutbacks. Corporations such as Merck, Yahoo, and even the almighty Goldman Sachs have declared that their payrolls will have to shrink, and that means so does the income of many hard working Americans.
The truth is that every industry is feeling the pressure, but it doesn't hurt to ask which is getting hit the hardest. Ironically, the industry that was admired for bringing home the money now has the most employees bringing home their office supplies. The New York Times said, "300,000 jobs will disappear from banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, and other financial service companies before the crisis subsides - 35,000 of them in New York City."
The financial sector is looking at the sort of job loss that the American automotive industry has been dealing with for a few years already. The difference is there are more people aspiring to be financial tycoons than Ford plant workers. Business has become one of the "safe bets" in the world of college majors. The Wall Street baron has become an idol and the American Dream's white picket fence suburban home has been replaced with a loft in SoHo and a lofty portfolio.
Wall Street seemed untouchable for a while, making it a desirable place to be. Now that reality has set in (that is exactly what much of this crisis is, a reality check), brokers are going to be living up to their job title. As for college students who dreamed of indulging in some hedge fund hedonism, the dream just might have to wait unless our next president proves to be a magician with tricks up his sleeve. Pulling our economy out of recession, however, would be more far more surprising than pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Sam Valle is a sophomore economics major whose dreams of fast cars and even faster women have all been dashed.