I got a fresh reminder of the average person’s perception of Wall Street on Monday morning.
While I was sitting on a bench having a coffee in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the owner of one of the neighbourhood’s most successful bar/restaurants sat next to me. He asked me what I do for a living. I replied, “I’m a reporter for Business Insider.”
When he asked me what I write about, I said, “Wall Street.”
“Oh, insider trading,” he responded, explaining that he’s watched episodes of ‘American Greed’ on CNBC — a primetime series that examines crimes in the finance world. He also mentioned a scam overseas that a friend of his had been duped by.
The bar owner went on to explain how he perceives Wall Street as “smoke and mirrors.” He said that his broker invited him into the office and showed him Bloomberg Terminal screens of the market going up. He added that his broker suggested he buy shares in one bank’s stock because it was “a great deal” and “on the up.” The stock, he said, ended up going down day-after-day. In the end, he felt like they were there just to take fees from him.
He added that he could simply use technology like E-Trade or Scottrade and open his own trading account and pick stocks just as well, or even better.
He’s probably not the only one who feels that way.