Monday, September 5, 2022

The Great Reckoning

First, there was work/life balance. Then, we had the Great Resignation. After that, there was quiet quitting. 

The underlying theme is simple and easy to understand. The young employees of great American corporations have a highly defective work ethic. They were brought up to think that life was therapy, and therefore, they are committed only to doing the minimum work required.

Managers have been complaining about Gen Z for quite some time now. And yet, they have felt obligated to play along, because that was the talent pool they had to fish in. As long as the economy was booming and the markets were churning out profits, they were willing to put up with the antics of today’s younger generation.

To which, Charles Gasparino reports, (via Maggie's Farm) top Wall Street honchos are responding: No more. It’s the Great Reckoning.

Boom times are over, and coddling Gen Zers has come to an end:

The stock market and deal-making boom extended incredible leverage to a class of Wall Street employees brainwashed by woke college professors and administrators into believing any and all of their feelings are important and existential, including not wanting to work so hard.

Note that this generation sees life as therapy. They are in touch with their feelings; they feel their feelings; and they have no real work ethic and no real loyalty to their company or even to their nation. It’s a trainwreck generation.

Up until now Wall Street has gone along. It felt that it had little choice. It was competing against the tech behemoths for a shrinking talent pool. That seems to have ended:

Wall Street, despite its Darwinian rep, succumbed to the pressure, transforming itself into something like a college safe space because it needed entry- and associate-level bodies to process deals and trades, and faced competition for talent from Big Tech. That meant more perks for the grunts of the business (think stuff like free Pelotons on top of higher pay), flexible work hours and demands to work from home well after the worst of the COVID pandemic subsided.

The anti-work ethic reduced productivity.

It also meant accepting the ­mores of the new generation even if it meant lower productivity. Wall Street execs used to brag that they slept in the office under their desk when big deals were on the line. Now the up-and-comers embrace something known as “quiet quitting” where doing the bare minimum is the norm.

So, the heads of the Big Banks have had enough. Gasparino suggests that the slowdown in dealmaking will allow them to rid their ranks of the slugs and laggards-- and to send them back to their parents’ basements:

The boomers who run the Big Banks — Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan, James Gorman at Morgan Stanley and David Solomon at Goldman — are said to have had enough, I am told, and will use the looming deal-making slowdown and recession to show the young’uns who’s boss.

The first volley has been simple. It’s time to get back to the office:

With power shifting to management, last week Solomon began forcing all employees back to the office five days a week after Labor Day, the Post’s Lydia Moynihan was first to report. A companywide memo cited “significantly less risk of severe illness” while a spokeswoman cited the need to preserve the firm’s “client-centric business,” which is corporatese for “get your rear ends to work because you’re less productive on Zoom.”

Actually, the heads of the big tech firms were there first. Their stocks have been mauled by the bear market, so they have chosen to be less accommodating toward their Gen Z staff:

Ironically, it’s been the woke tech CEOs like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai who first began clamping down on the youthful angst. They were forced to demand better productivity measures because the economic slowdown hit their wallets first.

So, what Gasparino calls the “pampered masses” are about to discover the value of work. It’s a good lesson for labor day:

Now that Wall Street is bracing for declining deal flow and probably layoffs later in the year, Solomon, Dimon and Gorman are flexing their management muscles and will likely continue to do so in ways that will annoy their pampered masses who will have increasingly less bargaining power to complain and force management to cave.

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