Pain Management

Last Monday marked the de-OliverStone- ing of Wall Street. The Gordon Gekkos came back as a band of brothers andsisters -- heroes out to keep the economy afloat. "The trading floor the first day had asense of camaraderie," says Sue Herera, who co-hosts CNBC's Business Center fromthe exchange floor. "It was a feeling of, We're back, we can beat this, it's going tobe okay."

Only later in the week did the energy falter. "The adrenaline fades alittle," says Jill Considine, who heads the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation. Fortwo days after the attack, she stayed at her office at 55 Water Street, clearing theprevious week's trades and subsisting largely on microwave popcorn. "When people have somedowntime, it'll hit them."

Earlier this year, when managing directors at CSFB took theMyers-Briggs personality test, one group was cheering because they had noFs -- "Feeling" people. Now the company's conference rooms have been turned intomakeshift therapists' offices, with heavy drapes covering the glass walls and guys goingin alone or in groups of two or three.

"It's depressing," says one assistant to thepresident of a Wall Street specialist firm. The phones are down in her 400-person office,and though the CEO has been especially generous these past few days, there's a tangiblefear in the air -- which has nothing to do with physical safety. "A lot of people can't helpbut worry about layoffs."

For some people, working is the only form of relief. "Youcould sit around and think about people you've lost," says Rodgin Cohen, whose law firm,Sullivan & Cromwell, is busy trying to keep its clients Cantor Fitzgerald and SandlerO'Neill in business. "But what you're trying to do is to make the tragedy a smaller partof your life -- or at least not the dominant part." Jerry Webman, director of fixed-incomeinvestments for Oppenheimer Funds, feels an obligation to keep going. "Excuse me if thissounds like a platitude, but we're not just managing money," he says. "We're managingpeople's futures."

As for the future: "It's painful," says Webman, "but disasters tendto be economically stimulative. The bond market is reacting exactly the way you'd expectit to be if you were anticipating short-term drops but long-term growth." He pauses. "ButI'm not going to try to tell you there isn't a pall that hangs over the industry. I askeda portfolio manager how she was, and the first sentence was, 'I'm sad.' The second was,'I've got a mortgage position here.' "

Reported by Robert Kolker, David Amsden, andLaurie Sandell

Archive: Cover Story
From the October 01, 2001 issue of New York Magazine.