In the "What the hell were they thinking" department...

In the "What the hell were they thinking" department...

Summary: The New York Stock Exchange, all lit up for the holidays. Nice display, but is this really an appropriate message to send to Wall Street?

wallstjpg.JPG The New York Stock Exchange, all lit up for the holidays. Nice display, but is this really an appropriate message to send to Wall Street? Or an appropriate use of company funds? Click on the photo for a full-size image. In my last post, "Policing Holiday Light Violations" I appear to have hit a raw nerve with a lot of ZDNet's readers when I made my New Jersey-style attempt at "lightening up" an otherwise miserable holiday season. Many of you feel I shouldn't be judging my neighbors tastes or skills at lighting up their homes for Christmas. Okay, I've heard you. My bad. Blame our Editor in Chief, he thought it was hilarious. What is not so hilarious, however, is how companies waste money on frivolous things especially during such a dire economic crisis, when millions of people are out of work and several of the nation's largest companies are on the brink of bankruptcy. Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more. What brought my particular ire this last week was when I was walking down Wall Street in New York City, where I spotted the above over-the-top lighting display, complete with 65-foot Christmas tree, on the New York Stock Exchange. Now, normally I'd think this was really cool, and great for tourism, but really, can we truly say that after 6PM, Wall Street and the Financial district is actually a TOURIST attraction? No, the area pretty much clears out. People work there, and they go home. I'd really be angry if the NYSE was a public institution and was wasting taxpayer money on this. However, a little bit of research shows that the NYSE is operated by NYSE-Euronext (Ticker: NYX) a for-profit corporation. So the company is just spreading a bit of holiday cheer, right? If Wall Street weren't neck deep in economic doggy doo, and that several of our financial institutions hadn't just failed and weren't spending 700 billion dollars of taxpayer bailout funds -- of which nearly 350 billion has already been spent and hasn't been properly accounted for, I'd be willing to leave it at that. However, I think this display sends totally the wrong message, particularly when most people probably don't realize NYSE is a public corporation and not a government-owned entity. Look, I don't know what a 65-foot Norway Spruce decorated with 80,000 lights and 60,000 feet of electrical wire along with a huge lighted facade on the Exchange itself costs. But I'm sure it is a LOT of money. Money that COULD have been donated to feed New York City's homeless and unemployed -- or money that could have been conserved by the company to save a few of their own employees' jobs. I understand that this is a tradition that NYSE has been doing for 85 years. But this isn't just any old year for Wall Street. Perhaps next year they should think twice about doing something so frivolous. Should NYSE and other public corporations be spending money frivolously during the holiday season? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Banking, Government, Government US


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Why Not? How much money did it cost?

    If the lights and eveything are bought and paid for, the workers doing the decorating already on payroll, what's the actuall cost?

    Plus given a time of uncertainty, a little hope in the form of the traditional Christmas display isn't a bad thing, as what would consumer confindence be if people expected to see the display and it wasn't there?

    "Wow I didn't realize things were [i]that[/i] bad to the point that the NYSE can't even afford the electric bill this year..."
    • There is no reason...

      Why this could not have been scaled down to a tree to 1/3 of the size, with 1/3 of the amount of lights and 1/3 of the electric bill, with a public statement by NYSE that they were scaling things back and conserving the money for their employees. This would have been totally understood and applauded by everyone.

      There is a big difference between the NYSE and Rockefeller Center's tree, which is a MAJOR tourist attraction in the middle of Manhattan's most critical shopping district. It brings people into New York City to spend money. In contrast, the NYSE Christmas tree and facade is just a waste of money.
      • The entire concept of

        decorating one's house every year with energy wasting electric bulbs and polution generating manufacturing of plastic holiday contructs for our consumption is a waste of both our money and of our energy.

        Quite irresponsible of us, would you not say?
        • Get real

          This is not about Christmas lights *per se*, as you know perfectly well.

          This is about highly irresponsible businessmen, who, after wrecking the global economy by near-criminal behaviour, feel the need to boast about their presence with a huge light show. Nauseating.
          • " ... boast ... "?

            This is a Christmas decoration. An impressive display in a city which requires an impressive display to be noticed. At a price which disappears into rounding error in the budget.

            People have always complained about the expense, and bad years give them a chance to think they're being reasonable. Actually, they're showing the sensibility of Scrooges.

            The human spirit requires exuberance. A small, restricted display billboarding CHEAP acts directly on the impression created.

            The place where your distaste for damaging executives is appropriate is in annual bonuses. Let every executive whose reign has caused a collapse in employment work for $1 a year until the company recovers. And rescind the golden parachute and forego any reward for selling the company.

            Now that's the Christmas spirit!
            Anton Philidor
          • LOL. I support your proposal!

            Hit them where it hurts: in their purses. Excellent!

            If that should happen, then I'll benignly grant them their arrogant light show. :-)
        • I bit like

          jumping on a plane and traveling thousands of miles for a 7/14 day holiday, when you could just stop at home.
      • But it is the NYSE's money.

        They did not partake in the bail out. They received no funds
        from it (other than funds received 2nd and 3rd hand due to
        trading of company stocks that did receive funds). They
        make money even when companies go under.
  • RE: In the

    You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
    You really are a heel.
    You're as cuddly as a cactus,
    You're as charming as an eel.
    Mr. Grinch.

    You're a bad banana
    With a greasy black peel.

    You're a monster, Mr. Grinch.
    Your heart's an empty hole.
    Your brain is full of spiders,
    You've got garlic in your soul.
    Mr. Grinch.

    I wouldn't touch you, with a
    thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

    You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
    You have termites in your smile.
    You have all the tender sweetness
    Of a seasick crocodile.
    Mr. Grinch.

    Given the choice between the two of you
    I'd take the seasick crockodile.

    You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
    You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
    Your heart is full of unwashed socks
    Your soul is full of gunk.
    Mr. Grinch.

    The three words that best describe you,
    are, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."

    You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
    You're the king of sinful sots.
    Your heart's a dead tomato splot
    With moldy purple spots,
    Mr. Grinch.

    Your soul is an apalling dump heap overflowing
    with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable
    rubbish imaginable,
    Mangled up in tangled up knots.

    You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.
    With a nauseaus super-naus.
    You're a crooked jerky jockey
    And you drive a crooked horse.
    Mr. Grinch.

    You're a three decker saurkraut and toadstool
    With arsenic sauce.
    • Deleted

      I do wish there was a delete button.
    • Looking in the mirror again?

      You are so vain! You are not the center of the world you know.

      Please stoping writing about yourself!!!
      InAction Man
  • RE: In the

    Are you thinking..? NYSE and Christmas both have a common emotion...HOPE. Why would you want to diminish that in these rough times...MONEY..? I would hope in the future you would write about something in which you have some understanding. It's become obvious the Christmas season isn't one of them.

    Enjoy the Coal

    K. Kringle
    • Yes, Hope is the word

      I really hope that someday, maybe someday, they will learn some basic decency rules and start behaving responsibly.
      InAction Man
  • Sure, Go Ahead

    I don't have a problem with displays of this type for companies that choose to pay for them and aren't on the dole. These displays do brighten people's days and they employ large numbers of relatively unskilled workers who really are hurting right now, particularly people who worked in construction. If everyone simply packed up and went home, so to speak, when we hit rough times it would only be that much more depressing.
  • Extremely bad taste

    I agree. Shameless triumphalism, when all they can triumph about, is acquiring an enormous amount of taxpayers' money.
  • RE: In the

    I'm missing one particular decoration. A ball with "$700B" written on it. Or what about.. "Christmas come early"....
  • The contract for all this was probably signed a year ago,

    and the money already long spent. Things like this don't happen on an idle whim--they take months of planning and preparation. Further, even if they'd canceled the contract, there would have been significant expenses--the people who supplied the tree and the people who devised the lighting aren't going to just swallow the loss.
    Henry Miller
  • Not even close.

    Wall Street's display of arrogance does not even hold an candle to the CPU cycles wasted on end user security software.

    If you plan on stepping on this pile you better be wearing hip boots.
  • Frivolous people being bailed out with taxpayer's money

    and then throwing it away on a vain display of arrogance.

    That's really sad! It's the ultimate unchristmas behaviour.
    InAction Man
    • Except NYX taint being bailed out.

      It is really sad when people comment on things they don't
      know about. And then flame them:

      "Frivolous people being bailed out with taxpayer's money"

      Except the New York Stock Exchange is NOT BEING BAILED

      There are companies that are are traded on the exchange
      being bailed out but the exchange is not. They would only
      loose money if all companies went belly up. So long as
      there is volume in trades, they will make money.