DiNapoli, Thompson Share News Of Economy
"Regular American taxpayers are hurting and angry," said UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo. "Thousands have lost jobs, homes and dreams."
Hard-working Americans were left "unstimulated and uninspired" by decisions of "soulless and shameful" bankers and CEO's, Poveromo said.
"Times are tough, budgets are bad," said Assemblymember Michael Gianaris.
Thomas P. DiNapoli, comptroller of the state of New York, and William C. Thompson Jr., comptroller of the city of New York, the guest speakers, did not disagree.
"Certainly, we are in the grip of a very daunting recession," said DiNapoli. "I don't know if I would call it a depression yet."
DiNapoli and Thompson said reliance on Wall Street revenues by both the state and city had a great impact. "We're very proud to be the global capital for finance," DiNapoli said. "But the reality is, Wall Street accounts for 20 percent of revenues."
Thompson said the financial sector was the "backbone" of New York's economy, accounting for 20 to 25 percent of revenues. "When Wall Street slid, we lost thousands of jobs," he said.
DiNapoli said revenue losses from Wall Street amounted to $1 billion for the state and $275 million for the city.
Thompson said over-reliance on Wall Street should change. "Just as markets go up, they always come down." Thompson projects 250,000 lost jobs for the city, but is hopeful that figure won't be reached.
Of the $700 billion federal bailout package for financial institutions, Thompson said, "You can disagree, but so many [financial] institutions couldn't be let to go under."
Letting Lehman Brothers fail was a mistake, said Thompson. "It sped [recession] up," he said. "The recession that engulfed the rest of the U.S. caught up with New York City and went global," he said of events in September that left Lehman Brothers closed, Merrill Lynch merged and A.I.G. bailed out.
"In early 2008, New York City was not doing badly," Thompson said. "We were still growing." The city actually gained jobs (32,000) from August 2007 to August 2008, he said. Then in October, November and December of 2008, 65,000 jobs were lost.
"I don't think anybody could have predicted [the change]," Thompson said. "But New York City will come back stronger and better than ever."
"New York [state] was hit a little later than other states," said DiNapoli. "The federal government is putting enough money into the system, but unemployment will still go up," he said, predicting that 2009 is going to be "as bad or worse" as the end of 2008.
"We have to align our revenues and our spending," said DiNapoli. "I'm an optimist. We still have the opportunity to get on the right track."