Wall Street Today

Question: What is the state of Wall Street today?

Thomas Cooley:  Well, Wall Street has already had something like 30 or 40,000 layoffs and there are more coming.  So Wall Street is going to retrench for sure, for a while.  Investment banking has slowed down.  And one of the consequences of the problems in the credit markets has been that a lot of private equity, the big blockbuster private equity deals have dried up.  A lot of them have not been completed and won't be completed.  So there is a problem there, I think.  But at the same time, there are other people on Wall Street who make money from restructuring, from-- they make money from turnarounds, bankruptcy turnarounds.  So people in that business, or that part of Wall Street, are very happy, they're doing well.  We expect to see more bankruptcies in the corporate sector, we expect to see more turnarounds, more workouts.  And so they're always investment bankers happy to work in those kinds of deals.

Question: Where do see it a year from now?

Thomas Cooley:  I think it'll be on its way back, a year from now, but slowly.  I think it will take a while for these credit problems to work themselves out of the system, in part because a lot of people don’t understand all of the issues that are out there.  There are other kinds of loans besides mortgages loans that are potential sources or problems.  Student loans are problem area that is now beginning to make headlines, so.

Thomas Cooley:  Well, the student loan industry grew in much the same way that the mortgage industry grew.  That is, there were lenders willing to make loans.  There are government agencies that would guarantee them, and then these loans would get securitized, packaged, wrapped, as they say.  They would be insured and then sold as investment vehicles for lots of people around the world.  Now, the problem is that one of the most important companies that insured these loans went out of business and the market for selling the securitized loans has just disappeared.  You can't sell them now.  So there is a lot of talk about whether the government is going to step in and buy them because, if–– you know, it's just like a bank, it needs to sell these things in order to have more money to lend.  And so there are lots of concerns now that they can't be sold, that eventually banks are going to want to get out this business.

Recorded: 3/21/08


NYU's Thomas Cooley discusses the state of Wall Street today and where it's going.

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