Too Big To Fail

by digby

Following up on the news that AIG executives are so arrogant that they are actually going to insist that taxpayers pay their bonuses in spite of their epic failures to fulfill their fiduciary duty, this will really make your day:

Champagne corks are always popping somewhere, of course, and the high life never disappears entirely, especially in New York. But these days, a $750 magnum of Perrier-Jouët stands in striking contrast to the scene outside Bagatelle’s glass-paneled door, where the Dow has lost half its value since the fall of 2007, the recession has claimed a net total of 4.4 million jobs since it began, more than 850,000 families lost their homes to foreclosure last year, and the word “depression” is being heard in the land.


The latest incarnation of Saturday brunch began last April at Bagatelle, a French bistro with decorative moldings, crystal chandeliers and striking white décor; it seats 95 people. Six months later, the high-end brunch arrived at Merkato 55, a space on Gansevoort Street that can accommodate about 300 people and typically attracts a younger and slightly less affluent crowd, though the term affluent in this context may be relative.

The two scenes have recently garnered attention in the news media. Merkato 55 was voted “Best Bacchanal” by New York magazine this month. And the blog Guest of a Guest has weighed in on what the site describes as “the Battle of the Recession-Proof Brunches.”


The concept took off just as most Americans were watching the value of their paychecks, stock portfolios and 401(k)’s take a nosedive. This confluence is extremely perplexing to some and makes perfect sense to others, the argument being that dancing and drinking are age-old antidotes to troubled times.

“It’s been really more crazy since the recession,” said Mr. Clemente, who is 35. “In a time of crises, you have a tendency of wanting to be with people and see if you can feed from their energy. If you feel sad, you want to go to a lively place, to recharge your battery.”

Ok. So it's a bunch of rick people acting like asses. Whatever.

But you have to love this:

A man who works in finance and was standing near the bar of Merkato 55 the following Saturday started to talk about this issue, but then he had second thoughts, saying he could be fired for drawing attention to the subject in the news media. Any overt display of conspicuous spending, he added, even if not a dime was expensed to a corporate account, would not sit well with his employer. “Excess,” he said, “is frowned upon heavily.”

As for how he and his fellow Wall Streeters could still afford such afternoons, he said: “We all made so much money in the past five years, it doesn’t matter.”

A 29-year-old man who works for a large investment management firm and was at Bagatelle’s brunch one recent Saturday and at Merkato 55’s the next, put it another way: “If you’d asked me in October, I’d say it’d be a different situation, and I don’t think I’d be here. Then the government gave us $10 billion.

Fitzgerald was right. They really are different from you and me. I'm not even sure they're human.

h/t to jv