New York, N.Y.—every day except Sunday, A Gray Line sightseeing bus leaves Rockefeller Center on the hour and waddles south through traffic in search of Manhattan’s principal points of interest. After lingering briefly at Times Square, the Empire State Building and Greenwich Village, the bus arrives at the farthest and most congested outpost of its journey: Wall Street. Perhaps significantly, no one is allowed to leave the bus at this stop.
“Extending for a distance of seven blocks from Trinity Church to the East River, Wall Street received its name from the wall that used to run the length of the street. Erected by Governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1652 as protection against invasion by the British, the wall was torn down in 1699. On your left is the New York Stock Exchange, where more than $1 billion in securities changes hands every working day. On your right is the U.S. Subtreasury Building, where the first U.S. Congress met and where George Washington was inaugurated as President in 1789. Wall Street is the world’s most important financial center.”
And it is no place for a Texan.
The stock market has been wobbling downward since the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its all-time peak of 1051 in January, 1973; there is some doubt that it will ever make a come-back. Brokerage firms have been disappearing as fast as independent gasoline stations, especially since the advent of negotiated (and thus usually lower) commission rates on large stock trades in 1971. Last year alone, member firms of the New York Stock Exchange collectively lost about $80 million. Employment on Wall Street has not risen appreciably in years. Salaries have, if anything, failed to keep pace with the cost of living in New York, which rose about half-again as fast as the national average last year. And there is general agreement that senior partners of leading brokerage and investment banking firms are no longer making the leisurely fortunes they used to.
For those reasons, Wall Street