A Killer Economy

October 24, 2008

This economy is a killer. Just ask New Yorkers on Craigslist. 

You may not have heard of the Killers, a music group from Las Vegas that’s been variously called the next U2 and the best Mormon rock band of all time. They are playing tonight at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.

Tickets, at $45, sold out in a few minutes when they went on sale in late September, and have been reselling for 10 times that amount on the secondary market.  That’s where Craigslist, and a former hedge fund associate, come in.

A Reuters reporter was not willing to pay the $350 asking price per ticket to see the show, and emailed the seller, pointing out a recession is under way.  The former hedge fund associate emailed back: “I’m not a scalper. I’m a ticket arbitrageur.”  So we called him up.

“I really like this band. I can play some of their songs,” he said. “New York is an expensive place and I don’t have a paycheck coming in today.” He did not want to be identified since he is looking for work.

The Ivy League-educated 25-year-old, a Killers fan, bought tickets to Friday’s show a few days before his Park Avenue hedge fund laid him off, along with several others. The fund paid out unused sick days and vacation time, but no severance. He’s received inquiries about tickets from across New York’s financial industry, but mostly from its higher strata.

“Only VPs are still able to still afford luxury,” he said. ”The belt’s already been tightened. It used to be the associates and the analysts were the most visible, making money in this economy, because we walked around with new Hermes ties and bought all the hot clothes. Now that’s clearly over.”

The Killers are not much older than he is, but they also seem to know something about hard times.

“Dreams aren’t what they used to be, some things slide by so carelessly,” Brandon Flowers sings on their single “Smile Like You Mean It.”

Expect to hear that song tonight at Hammerstein — if you can afford a ticket.

(Photo of Brandon Flowers in concert from Reuters)

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