Jeffrey, 23, had just been promoted to associate at a top investment bank when he volunteered to be laid off in May. “We weren’t doing anything,” he said of his workload. “I decided I’d had enough of New York. I went on a little bit of a bender for three weeks. Then I shipped my stuff home, moved back in with my parents in Albuquerque.”
Originally, young Jeffrey had planned to spend the entire month of July in Costa Rica, but that fell through when he couldn’t find a traveling companion. Instead, he took long trips to L.A. and back to New York again to see Billy Joel’s last concert at Shea Stadium, and is currently packing for a 10-day trip to Israel.
“I’ve been here catching up with old high-school friends, spending a lot of time on the golf course,” Jeff said. “I never really played much golf, but I’m taking lessons. I also grew a mustache, which literally took a month. I don’t grow much facial hair. I didn’t know when in my life I’d have a month to devote to that.
“A lot of my friends are very jealous of the lifestyle I’ve been living lately,” he remarked.
Of course, there are plenty of young analysts and associates still toiling for New York’s faltering banks, some bored to tears by the lack of work. What do they think of their fallen—or is it liberated?—coworkers?
“He’s just looking for a job,” snapped a handsome, dark-suited Brit of a fired friend; he was drinking draft beer at Ulysses, a bar behind Goldman Sachs’ Wall Street headquarters, after work on a recent Friday. “There’s no Dostoyevsky stuff; he’s just looking for another job.”
At an outside picnic table, a tall, deeply tan and boisterous 20-something said he was pretty sure another ex-colleague had bought a lot of cocaine. “He has a drug problem,” he said darkly.
“I know a girl from Bear Stearns … she’s going to fashion school right now. She’s taking classes in fashion,” said a 23-year-old whippersnapper with styled blond hair who felt pretty secure in his own perch. “I’ll put it this way: The book I manage is worth about a trillion dollars.”
“It just depends on the age that you were laid off at,” said a pretty 23-year-old in a chic “business-casual” cardigan and black pants, one of only several women in the place. “If you’re older and you have your family, you’re more likely to try to get a job quickly and faster. And if younger, you could possibly consider changing career paths.”
And what would she herself do if the ax fell? “I guess I’d probably go back to school,” she said.
Other people’s contingency plans were more elaborate. “I would start my own business,” fantasized a 25-year-old Indian guy wearing a blue dress shirt, a table over. “I would start a small restaurant, something like that. A sushi restaurant. That’s what I am going to do anyway, hopefully.”
SPENDING CREDIT SUISSE’S MONEY
The thing about being tossed out the window as a young banker is that you tend to land on a soft cushion, at least temporarily.