When New York sneezes…
As the past week has witnessed the spiraling descent of the global financial system (and the potential end of the economic world as we know it), I’ve been wondering about the ways in which the sudden disappearance of Wall Street is going to affect the city of New York, aside from the obvious perk that there will be fewer i-bankers prowling lower Manhattan and infringing on everybody’s sense of good taste. Vanity Fair has already beat me to the punch here, weighing the pros and cons of a city without bankers, and coming to the conclusion that although it would be awesome to be able to actually afford Manhattan, reclaiming the city won’t be so sweet if it comes at the expense of jobs and public hygiene services.
Meanwhile, The New York Times posted an article today about the crisis’ potential impact on Harlem, noting that the recession of Wall Street means the recession of investment, a threat that could send Harlem back to the kind of hardship that left the neighborhood economically paralyzed up until recently. Personal opinions aside, Starbucks and American Apparels on 125th Street do mean jobs, and Wall Street guilt has led to a boom in outreach programs across Harlem (why else would the Frederick Douglass Academy have a lacrosse team?) But now, with the prospect of continued growth looking dimmer and dimmer, it seems as if Harlem, like many neighborhoods across the city, is unlikely to continue on the course that’s been set. As Lloyd Williams, the president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce put it, “When New York City sneezes, Harlem has pneumonia.”
And if New York’s the one with pneumonia?
No guesses on my part, but for now, here’s a postcard from 1970s New York, the most recent of many bleak financial pasts. Reminds me a bit of Berlin.
For more on economic issues none of us truly understand, I refer you to Megan McArdle, Atlantic columnist and self-proclaimed “world’s tallest female econoblogger.” Enjoy.