main street vs. wall street

What Do People on Main Street Think About Wall Street?

Photo: Kevin Roose

For New Yorkers who work on (or, in my case, write about) Wall Street and the economy every day, it’s often easy to forget how much ideological distance separates your average American from the people who work inside the financial sector, or are intimately familiar with its machinations.

I’m originally from the Midwest, and it’s always bracing to return home and find out how separate the insular worlds of Wall Street and Main Street can be, and how little the outlooks and temperaments of the regular people back home have in common with the cosmopolitan financiers I chronicle every day.

So on a recent cross-country road trip, I came up with a rather crude — but, it turned out, oddly effective — method of finding out how the rest of Americans see the world. I went to Main Streets in six towns in six different states along my route with one question for the people I found: What do you think about Wall Street?

Here’s, in condensed and slightly edited form, what they said in reply.

The View From Main Street