Tag Archive for 'Wall Street'



It’s 1958 and America needs workers.

The New York City high school school system offers vocational training for those students who plan to skip college and go right into the work force. Girls can learn secretarial and bookkeeping skills at Washington Irving and Eastern District High Schools. Grady and Chelsea Vocational will teach you how to be a carpenter; Newtown High to be a farmer. There’s Manhattan Aviation and Brooklyn Automotive; Food Trades High for those who want to be butchers or bakers. Maritime High will prepare you for the Merchant Marine. High School of Performing Arts to be a star.

Along with 6,000 other boys I go to Brooklyn Tech, one of the three elite high schools (Bronx Science and Peter Stuyvesant are the other two) which grant admission based on exam scores. My scores say I am suited for a career in engineering. My scores are dead wrong. I am clinging by my fingertips to the bottom of the curve in math and science. Mechanical Drawing is a cabalistic mystery to me. My classmates take one look at a cam shaft and produce a detailed rendering of the top, side and front views. I stare at it like an ape contemplating a can opener.

The curricular plan is to blueprint a cam, make a pattern of it and cast it. The pedagogy doesn’t work for me, but it does sharpen my bargaining skills. I get a copy of the mechanical drawing from a fat kid named Iskowitz in exchange for a good mark on the high bar in gym class where I am a squad leader. An amazingly skillful kid named Duncan trades an extra pattern for a book report on Silas Marner. A kid named Shlosser promises to make a cast for me if I do his Civics homework for a month. But he reneges, alarmed by our prowling teacher. With the devil-may-care fatalism of a WWI pilot taking the sky against Baron Richtoven I make a mold out of my lunch, a cream cheese and jelly sandwich and a banana, and quickly pour molten metal into it. My teacher, Mr. Ryan, calls his colleague Mr. Nepo over to look at the finished product.

“You could put this in the Modern Museum of Art, but not in an automobile,” he says. And gives me a 55.

After school I take the subway to a dingy office building on Nassau Street in the financial district. I’m working as a runner for American Clerical, a company that appears in court for busy lawyers and gets adjournments on their cases. There are thousands of law firms in this congested area. Tens of thousands of lawyers who take on as much as work as they can and then juggle court dates like mad. Firms like American Clerical allow them to be in three places at once and the clients are never the wiser.

There are about twenty of us, mostly high school kids, working for minimum wage, a dollar an hour. Our job is to deliver slips with the new court dates to law offices in the area and collect a two dollar fee for the day’s work and a new order for the next day. We get in at about 3:30. Marvin, the dispatcher, a dour, sallow kid in his ’20′s with a new black booger–or the same one– hanging out of his comically large nose, silently hands each of us a worn leather portfolio and a typed itinerary with about fifty firms. We have to be back at the office by 5:30 so the partners can make up their schedules for the next day.

We go on a mad dash through the dense downtown streets, running from one building to the next. There are four or five firms in each building, sometimes more in the skyscrapers. We take the elevator to the highest floor, run into the law office where the switchboard operators hand us the money and the new orders like batons in a relay race and run out to the next office. Sometimes the slips aren’t ready so we run down the stairs, jumping four or five steps at a time to the other offices, then run back up the stairs. We have to clip the cash to the slips and make sure they don’t get muddled. Then we weave through the rush hour multitudes on the narrow streets back to the office. We’re each carrying at least a hundred dollars. Marvin waits under the clock and takes our portfolios. Kids who come in only a few minutes after 5:30 are fired on the spot. One kid falls down the back stairs of an old building and breaks his ankle. He crawls down to the first floor and is discovered by the cleaning ladies, whimpering in the darkness. He is fired, too.

American Clerical is run by five lawyers, ex Communists who have been barred from more lucrative legal work. Five little men–we call them the midget All-Stars–their white shirts soiled with carbon soot. In the morning they scurry from court to court adjourning other lawyers’ cases for a two dollar fee. In the afternoon they sit in a row banging away at their typewriters, squinting through cigarette smoke, coffee containers littering the floor around their chairs. Ben, my father’s friend from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer army that fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, is a senior partner, and has gotten me the job. A trim little bald guy with coke bottle glasses he gets vicious after a few shots of my father’s Haig and Haig Dimple Scotch. At the mention of a name he’ll sneer:

“Oh yeah, Morris Mermelstein, shot in the back while charging.” Or:

“Sid Tassler, that informer… He was so terrorized by the FBI he converted to Catholicism…”

A few more drinks and he starts cutting up his partners.

“Leo doesn’t know from dialectics. He joined the Party for the girls…”

“There’s plenty of Reds in Legal Aid. They fired Sid because he’s a lousy lawyer.”

Ben warns me not to tell the other boys that I know him. “They’ll think you’re a spy and gang up on you on the back stairs,” he says, blinking urgently behind his thick glasses.

He’s wrong. It’s a very diverse group– unusual for the time–white, black, Hispanic, foreign, even Chinese, but we have great solidarity. Like coal miners or infantrymen we respect each other for excelling at a very hard job. After work we go to a lunch counter for knishes and thick shakes.

But then the firings begin.

Cash is missing from the portfolios and the partners blame the boys. I come in one day and Iggie, a big, blotch-faced kid whose hands and feet have outgrown the rest of him, is crying. “George fired me,” he sobs. “I didn’t do nothin’.”

George has slick backed gray hair. He walks on the balls of feet and hitches up his pants like a boxer. When I come back from my route the next day he has Sal, a chunky kid who reads weightlifter magazines, backed against the wall. “You fuckin’ thief,” he shouts.

“I didn’t steal nothin’,” Sal says.

George shoves him. “Get outta here.”

Every day I notice some kids are missing. New kids come and are canned after a few days. “Get outta here,” George shouts as they run, heads down, out of the office. “Rotten thieves!”

One day he fires Jenkins, a black kid from Tech, who I take the subway with every day. “You Jew motherfucker,” Jenkins shouts.

“Get out,” George yells back. “You’re lucky I don’t call the cops.”

I am a careful thief, restricting my pillage to legal pads and boxes of pencils. I’m amazed that all these kids would think they could get away with stealing money when every penny is accounted for. It never occurs to me that they might be innocent.

One afternoon I walk in to find George and Ben in the alcove. I’m fifteen and already I tower over them.

George jumps at me. “You rotten little thief!”

Ben holds him back. “How could you do this to your parents?”

“What did I do?” I ask.

“Don’t get cute with me,” George says.

“You have shortages for the last two weeks.,” Ben says. “We gave you the benefit of the doubt because of our regard for your father…”

I’m too stunned to protest my innocence. On the way out I see Marvin the dispatcher looking at me. He drops his head quickly and I realize:

It’s him!

I point a j’accuse finger. “It’s him, he’s doin’ it.”

Ben shakes his head. “Take it like a man. Don’t accuse your fellow worker.”

On my way out I shout at Marvin. “You did it, you prick,”

He looks up at me blandly.

Now I have a failing report card and I just got fired for stealing. I walk down to the Hudson River and look longingly at the freighters putting out to sea.

Ben has already called by the time I get home.

“Did you take the money?” my father asks.

“No,” I say. “It was Marvin the dispatcher. He got all these kids fired and he doesn’t care.”

“If they’re so worried they should take checks only,” my mother says.

“They want the cash so they don’t have to pay taxes,” my father says.

“So they’re stealing, too. Anyway, it’s all for the best,” she says, looking at my report card. “Now you’ll have more time to study.”

Six months later Ben calls. They finally caught the thief. It was Marvin all along. After five years of scrupulous employment he had become a degenerate horse bettor and whoremonger and was stealing to support his vices. The partners had him arrested so they could file an insurance claim for the missing money.

“My son the detective,” my mother says proudly.

Ben offers me my job back, but I have basketball practice three days a week and my mother is slipping me a few bucks as a bribe so I’ll stay home and study.

In the intervening years I’ve been accused of racism, fascism, plagiarism and philistinism, but my real crimes have gone undetected.


WALL STREET, N.Y., May 1…Declaring that “only collective action can restore our faith in ourselves and each other,” writer Igor Yopsvoyomatsky yesterday urged every American to “stop spending” for one day next week.

Speaking to a boisterous crowd in New York’s financial district, Yopsvoyomatsky said: “The neuro-economic manipulators have addicted us to consumption in order to enrich themselves. And like drug addicts we must steal and lie to indulge our habit.”

He called on all Americans to ” break the daisy chain of deceit that has strangled our lives. Stop lying and cheating and bribing each other.”

He called for a “no sale Sunday” to protest the exploitation of the “consuming classes.”

“Can you go cold turkey on frivolous expense?” he challenged. “Can you show the manipulators that you can bring their system to a crashing halt?”

Yopsvoyomatsky, a recent immigrant from Pinsk, was on the first stop of a publicity tour to promote his new book “The Sociopathology of the Financial System ” He led a contingent of “Desktop Desperadoes,” writers who claim their books are so subversive they cannot even pay to have them published to Border’s Books, hoping to have what he called a “guerilla signing.” When turned away by store security he set up a table outside the store, grabbed a cordless mic and harangued the lunchtime crowd.

“Do you know what happens to sheep? They are slaughtered. Lemmings follow each other to mutual destruction. Rats under stress consume themselves. This is what they are doing to you.”

“Who?” someone asked.

“Them…” Yopsvoyomatsky pointed to a skyscraper across the street. “The sleek, well-tailored men in the corner offices with the gleaming limousines waiting to whisk them to gourmet restaurants for caviar and champagne and later”–he sighed with a wistful look–”into the arms of their beautiful mistresses…”

A broker, unshaven, tie askew, shirt flopping untucked out of his trousers, stopped in disbelief. “Who?” he demanded.

Grunting with the strain,Yopsvoyomatsky hoisted his eleven hundred page book. “It is all here in painstaking analytic detail. They have created a polity of thieves…”

“A what?” the harried broker demanded.

Yopsvoyomatsky riffled the pages. “Under socialism people cheated and stole because they had nothing. Under capitalism they cheat and steal because they don’t have enough. Under socialism the nomenklatura had it all…”

The broker shook his head with an angry squint.

“The what?”

“The privileged classes,” Yopsvoyomatsky said. “The ones with the powerful jobs, who shopped in special stores, had Black Sea dachas. Even a special lane to drive their cars. They had everything. The rest of us had to cheat, steal and bribe to survive…”

“That was Russia,” the broker said.

“What is the difference?” Yopsvoyomatsky said. “You have here capitalist nomenklatura. Bankers, hedge fund, private equity. They are allowed to create and circulate wealth among themselves. When they are ensnared by their own greed their cronies in government free them. Then they return the favor by hiring cronies to eight figure jobs…But they have done something much worse…”

“Tell them, Igor,” a Desktop Desperado shouted and confided to a friend: “this is cool…”

“They have turned all of us into thieves, cheaters and liars so that we can continue buying pointless electronic toys they foist on us,” Yopsvoyomatsky shouted. “You sir…” He approached the broker. “You give buy recommendation on bad stock to increase the value of your holdings…”

“That’s a lie!” the broker shouted.

“Your client who you lied to owns restaurant that charges you thirty dollars for a piece of farm-raised fish that they say is wild caught. A taxi driver who buys gasoline for price inflated by your speculation fixes the meter to raise the fare. At home, the plumber who lost mortgage on sub-prime insured by your CDO charges you thousands when all he had to do was replace a washer. And to add insult to injury he is having an affair with your wife, who is angry because she saw passionate e mail from your receptionist…”

The broker gulped and reddened. “So that’s why he’s been coming every day…And billing me for his time…”

“You open your mail, sir. The phone company has billed you two dollars for fictitious calls, calculating that you won’t spend an hour on the phone to get the money back. Your credit card interest has been arbitrarily doubled and you have penalty for not paying. The hideously expensive private school wants a contribution or it won’t even consider your superbly gifted children. The nanny has given your credit card and account numbers to identity thieves in Slovakia. Meanwhile, her twenty dollar prepaid phone only has seventeen dollars in calls…”

” My God, you’re right,” the broker said with a stricken look. “We’re all stealing from each other.”

A contingent of motorcycle cops from the security checkpoint up the block arrived. “You are creating a traffic hazard, sir. You’ll have to disperse…”

Yopsvoyomatsky climbed on his rickety table. “And look. They send the Cossacks to attack us …” The legs buckled and the table collapsed. Yopsvoyomatsky tumbled and was stunned by one of his falling books. “Police brutality,” he shouted.

He marched down Broadway, shouting:

“What do we want?”

The crowd shouted, “No sale Sunday!”

“When do we want it?”

The crowd was puzzled.


He arrived at the bronze statue of a bull, the symbol of BoA Merrill Lynch at Bowling Green.

“This bull my friends is perfect symbol of capitalism…”He paused for effect…” A bull screws passive cows. It takes huge shits wherever and whenever it wants and it gores anybody who comes into its pasture…” As the crowd roared he jumped on the bull’s back. “We will show this bull what we think of it…”

Police moved in quickly and took Yopsvoyomatsky into custody. He was charged with obstructing commerce, orating without a permit and attempted sodomy of a financial icon.



PHOENIX, Ariz, Sept. 26…Dr. Irwin Zahnsaggler says he’s “sick and tired” of John McCain’s excuses.

The Phoenix endodontist began doing root canal on the Republican candidate three months ago.

“I told John there would be discomfort at first, but it had to be done,” Zahnsaggler says. “He laughed and said after what he had been through a little toothache would be nothing.”

But, after the first session, McCain jumped up, holding a tissue to his swollen jaw.

“I feel like Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man,” he told Zahnsaggler. “We should have used this technique in Guantanamo…”

From then on McCain began canceling appointments.

“When the Russians invaded Georgia he said he had to be at his post because we are all Georgians,” Zahnsaggler says. “Then when the Large Hadron Collider was activated he said he was going to Geneva because we are all protons. Last week he canceled to go to Washington because he said we are all homeowners, especially Cindy. He just called and said he can’t make it today because he has to debate Obama…I realized then that he would do anything to avoid going to the dentist.”

Zahnsaggler says he’s going to start charging McCain for canceled visits ” because we are all Americans.”


WASHINGTON, D.C…Tempers flared yesterday when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made an unscheduled visit to the Democratic caucus.

The party leadership was debating a response to the Republicans newest bailout plan when Paulson walked in.

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi greeted him with a smile. “Mr. Secretary, is that a bazooka in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”

At which point, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank jumped up, snarling: “Back off, bitch, I saw him first!”

Later in the day when Paulson’s plan was rejected by both parties, a “blogwag” opined that, “Paulson’s bazooka has turned into a derringer.”

And the Treasury Secretary couldn’t get anyone to return his calls.


WASHINGTON, D.C… During a tense emergency meeting on the bailout yesterday, staff members noticed President George W. Bush (B.A. Yale, MBA, Harvard) twitching impatiently. Then, while Secretary Paulson was explaining how CDO swaps had caused billions in losses, he erupted:

“You can’t run a company by swapping CEO’s,” he said. “Let one man stay on the job. Be accountable like me.”

“That’s CDO’s, George,” Dick Cheney said soothingly. “Collateralized Debt Obligations.”

“Too many damn initials,” Bush grumbled. “That’s why nobody knows what’s goin’ on.” Then, he challenged the crowd. “I’ll bet none of you smartasses knows what pdf stands for…” There was an awkward silence…”How about url?” Bush said. “A lifetime supply of high test to anybody who can tell me what that means…”

Later in the day when caffeine and fatigue were beginning to wear and Fed Chairman Bernanke was droning on in his patented monotone, Bush whispered irritably to Paulson:

“Does he know what he’s talking about?”

“Yes, Mr. President,” Paulson whispered back. “He’s an expert on the Depression.”

“Hell, we all know about depression,” Bush said. “I have days when Laura has to bring me a Twinkie and a double Carnation Instant Breakfast just so I can get out of bed.”

Paulson turned to hide his pained look. “No sir, I meant the Great Depression of the ’30′s.”

“Well, if he’s been depressed that long, he should get help,” Bush said. “I’ve got a good man in Dallas, Doctor Kopfshtumpfer…Cured my daddy of the yips.”


Editor of paranoiaisfact.com
Igor Yopsvoyomatsky,
answers readers’ questions

Dear Igor,

I’m supporting Obama, but my husband says I’m unrealistic: Wall Street will never let him win. Is this paranoia or fact?


Chimera, Pa.

Dear Hopeful,

This is paranoia. The fact is that Obama is the fair-haired boy of the super-rich. They are audaciously plotting to change the regime and install him as their standard bearer.

Why, you might ask?

Because the Bush administration has abjectly failed to protect their wealth and privilege.

Newton’s Third Law states: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

The theory of Reaganomics was that the wealth accumulated in the cisterns of the very rich would “trickle down” into the tin cups of working classes. Now this has been reversed: the poverty of working classes is “trickling up” to infect the very rich.

Corporate profits are decreasing. “This will be the first year since 2001 that domestic profits are down,” says Robert Barbera, chief economist for ITG (Investment Technology Group.

Wall Street shed 7600 high paying jobs in the first quarter of 2008. More “pain” is forecast as banks retrench, hedge funds shut down and private equity reneges on deals because of inability to raise capital.

Populist anger has forced regulators to suspend, price-fixing, “naked” short sales and insider trading schemes, which had made billions of dollars for “barely legal” investors and were immediately sheltered in off shore tax havens.

Corporate executives are being publicly humiliated by dismissals, law suits and indictments

The rich just aren’t having as much fun as they used to and they blame Bush.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association announced that yacht sales in 2007 suffered their largest decline in more than a decade.

Luxury jeweler Tiffany reported a 19% drop in profits for the last quarter of ’07.

Minks and sables are being offered at 40% discount by desperate retailers.

High end real estate values are plunging. “Upscale foreclosures are a growing trend,” says Florida real estate consultant Jack McCabe . In bubble markets like Las Vegas, Miami and Orange County California, mansions are being abandoned…”This is just the tip of the iceberg,” McCabe says.

Domestic discord is suddenly roiling the lives of the rich.

A survey reported in the Economist predicted an “upsurge” in divorces among “high-earners” in the major financial centers. Wives are hurrying to dissolve marriages to lock in big settlements before their husbands’ fortunes are wiped out. Both parties will want to sell community property–houses, cars, boats–before they lose value.

Out of a job, facing indictment, their houses gone, their wives frolicking with the pool man, these angry plutocrats know who to blame—George W. Bush.

All of the Bush schemes have backfired.

The price of oil has increased 1000% since his 2001 inauguration and oil companies have consistently declared higher profits every quarter of his presidency. But the trillions spent in Iraq and the fallout from the credit crisis have devalued the US dollar, diluting their profits. In addition the price of gasoline has risen so high that the American consumer, known as “John Q. Sucker” in certain quarters, has stopped driving and is demanding alternate sources of energy. Big oil is stuck with a sudden surplus that nobody wants. Speculators are pricing oil at $70 a barrel oil by 2011.

The Bush Fed under Ayn Rand acolyte Alan Greenspan had a clever plan: lend money to “ninjas” (no income, no job all stars.) Then, when they defaulted in the booming real estate market, the banks would repossess a property worth more than its mortgage. But the market plunged, leading to foreclosures on worthless property, causing big losses to banks.

Hell hath no fury like a banker who can’t pay his greens fees or get his boat in the water for the club regatta.

Obama has sent discreet signals that he feels Corporate America’s pain. He has voted for tort reform and to protect telecoms against lawsuits by private citizens. He even floated a plan to give tax incentives to companies that kept jobs in the US.

The formerly fat cats have reciprocated with discreet contributions and clever sabotage . Their most brilliant move has been to invite Vice-president Cheney to address the GOP convention. The site of thousands of protesters being clubbed, maced and run down by mounted policemen will be broadcast instantaneously around the world and will doom McCain’s already faltering candidacy.

So don’t worry, Hopeful. Obama will win. He will help the merchant princes regain their regal status. And if you stay in your place and hold out your hand, you might catch a few crumbs as well.