I got a call from my friend Didi the other day. She was on her cell driving her kids to a concert and wanted to know whether the real estate kingpin she is acquainted with is going to “lose it all — it’s been all over the papers.” Didi was “scared.”  She said she had just talked to her friend whose husband has made a fortune at one of the big surviving investment banks, but isn’t expecting much of a bonus this year. Her friend told her “everyone is real down in New York” and “no one knows what’s going to happen.” Didi’s hubby, meanwhile, is making ends meet consulting since being squeezed out of his big ticket job in a financial merger — but job hunting has proved daunting and their laissez-faire lifestyle may need to go on hold. She says she wants to sell her posh house to raise cash, but “whose going to buy right now. It’s really scary.”

I tried to get a word in edgewise. The real estate kingpin was going to get taken down a few notches, I said, but would probably end up much better off financially than most everyone else despite screwing up and  probably getting bounced. In the end that’s the benefit of being a kingpin… As far as New York is concerned, I dittoed her friend’s comments and suggested she should ease up on her spouse. With the financial industry in severe contraction, finding high pay work is a steep climb these days unless you’re a workout specialist or a bankruptcy attorney… Selling a property in the midst of the tailspin doesn’t make a lot of sense, I reminded her, unless you’re willing to meet buyers’ low ball expectations. “Look,” I told her. “It’s time to put away the credit card” and spend only on essentials. “Put the kids first, ” I advised.  She liked the sentiment “ putting the kids first.”

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