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The new Wall Street doesn’t include champagne

November 12, 2008

In the 1987 cult classic movie “Wall Street“, Michael Douglas plays a ruthless stockbroker desperate to cash in on a seemingly endless supply of wealth and swanky perks lavished on hot-shot traders.

Ahhh, the 80s…

More than twenty years later, most would agree that corporate greed still exists — but the perks may be dwindling.

Executives speaking at the Reuters Global Finance Summit say their cash-strapped firms are ushering in a new approach to corporate spending.  Gone are the days when flying business class was deemed a necessity, when the soda in the fridge was free and no expenses were spared. Reining in spending is the new trend sweeping Wall Street as firms struggle to stay afloat in tough times.  To hear some experts tell it, there’s no other choice.

“To watch the financial industry change as radically as it’s changed, to see the economy changing as radically as it’s changing, you’d be offensively imprudent if you didn’t change your spending,” says banking analyst Meredith Whitney.

In Germany, finance experts are already doing their part in cutting costs with a plan that limits top executives’ payout and may even curb the salaries of those working at government-owned companies.  In the U.S., the Treasury is reportedly mulling a new requirement that puts firms on the hook to raise private capital if they want to qualify for government money.

Of course, all this belt-tightening is sure to cause some uneasy feelings — so what’s a worried banker to do? Perhaps a little hypnosis will help. The Wall Street Journal reports that bad market karma is driving harried Wall Street-types to seek the help of hypnotists to ease their markets-induced pain.

Do you think Wall Street is doing enough to reign in spending? Share your thoughts below.

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