Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Late Stage MBA - AIG: The Pall that Is Settling Over Westport, CT

There is a pall settling over Westport, CT, a well off town on the Long Island Sound.

For perspective, pall is a relative thing. Westport will never be Detroit or Cleveland where the housing stock has gone bad, or home to unionized labor (well maybe there are a few) that have to make concessions to make sure GM will survive. Nor does Westport have to worry about the Headstart program will be eliminated (there is none), or that our community pool will close this summer because we can't afford lifeguards. No, none of that.

But there is a pervasive feeling that economically the town is off kilter. Well educated people from well heeled schools with MBA's, PHD's, MA's and law degress are feeling a wee bit of concern that a certain lifestyle guaranteed by money and education is not quite what it used to be. Give back the Bentleys and hold onto that BMW.

Those people - as our proudly over-educated, bi-racial (her description), perpetual student, piano playing, book-keeper would say-- are employees and refugees from places like UBS, Citibank, WPP, AIG, Goldman Sach's, and a variety of law firms, unique hedge funds and smaller companies. Many are now self-employed and often self-important.

There are plenty in denial, while others are hunkering down in the way that the well off know how to hunker down: they buy coffee machines for the office instead of going to Starbucks, they bring in cases of Snapple (50 cents each when purchased by the case from Costco), they cancel Aspen and go to Vermont. Florida on miles. They begin to tend to their own lawns, but when you own a 15,000 square foot house on two acres, you buy a garden tracker.

As if they could not get away from doing a bit of M&A work, some people are seriously thinking about combining several kid's Bar Mitzvah parties into one to acknowledge these trying economic times.

People are beginning to wonder: what do you do when there is no bonus?

Maybe I should have gone to MSW school to become a therapist. MBA is beginning to seem so last year.

No comments: