Dec. 13, 2013: New York is on the road to recovery from the great recession but the Federal Government must step in to protect the social safety net. This was the theme echoed at the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, forum Friday, December 13th. The event focused on "The Impact of Wall Street & Washington Fiscal Crisis on the New York Economy." More than 150 people attended the BALCONY forum held at the Ballroom at 4 West 43rd Street in New York City.

The speakers represented multiple points of view on the topic. New York City Comptroller-Elect Scott Stringer, New York City Comptroller John Liu, and Keynote speaker New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli discussed the government’s position on the Securities Industry and the challenges the New York State government still face following the 2008 Great Recession.


John Liu
Thomas DiNapoli
Scott Stringer


Lou Gordon,
BALCONY Director
Alan Lubin,


Arthur Cheliotes, President of CWA Local 1180 spoke on behalf of unionized labor. Mark Rifkin, Partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, spoke to the recent congressional changes and how they will impact Wall Street and investing. Finally, Mark Jaffe, President of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, summed up the speakers’ remarks by saying “it comes down to trust.”


Arthur Cheliotes
Mark Rifkin
Mark Jaffe




BALCONY Director Lou Gordon began the forum with a series of questions posed to the speakers and audience including: what impact does Wall Street have on New York City’s economy and what are the tax implications of it? What has the impact been of the budget impasse on New York State economics?

Lou Gordon - BALCONY Director


BALCONY Founder and Co-Chair Alan Lubin introduced his friend Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. As the Keynote speaker DiNapoli presented an analysis of the New York State economy since the 2008 collapse and resulting recession. With unemployment at a five-year low of 7.7%, he stated, “We have added back all the jobs lost since the Great Recession.” However, New York State offers an uneven picture, with some regions excelling and some still suffering lingering effects of the 2008 economic collapse. As Comptroller, DiNapoli also works on pushing for regulatory reform, as, he said, many more changes must be enacted to meet the banking reform terms of Dodd-Frank rules.

DiNapoli continued reporting that Wall Street financial services are much stronger now than five years ago, with the past three years being record years and financial sector tax revenues accounting for 16% of the state’s revenue. Job growth in the Securities Industry has been weak and larger firms continue downsizing. Wall Street now accounts for less than 2% of job growth in New York City, though the State still leads the country in financial service jobs. The most recent predictions, published October 13th, revealed that profits will be lower this quarter due to the budget impasse. DiNapoli added that the new Congressional budget deal does not offer a solution to the debt ceiling either, which will further impede progress on Wall Street.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli Presentation
Introduced by Alan Lubin, BALCONY Co-Chair


DiNapoli Q&A Sessions
Moderated by Lou Gordon, BALCONY Director


New York City Comptroller Liu next noted that, as evidenced in the 2013 elections, the people of New York City want change. This desire stems from dissatisfaction with the current economic situation and the fact that the top 1% control 35% of New York City’s wealth. Liu echoed Cheliotes in saying that “huge economic disparities are not good for democracy.”

Liu highlighted two major wage issues that the next Comptroller must confront, including the notion of prevailing wage and an increase in minimum wage. He pointed out that New York City’s minimum wage has not kept up with the pace of inflation, meaning that many New Yorkers are barely making enough to keep above the poverty line. Liu used this disadvantage as an example of the widening wealth gap. Liu finished by proposing setting up a system for the working people of New York to set aside money for their retirement investing in public pension program , which is currently considered open solely to the public employees.

Comptroller John Liu Presentation


New York City Comptroller-Elect Stringer recognized that there are challenges ahead, but the words “progressive” and “governing” need not be mutually exclusive. He assured “As the new government takes over, it will be fiscally responsible.” While the future remains uncertain, with high interest rates and gridlock in Washington, Stringer declared “regulation and integrity are what will carry us through the day.”

Stringer brought up education as another major influence on the economy. He argued that our government has spent the last 10 years ‘teaching to the test’ without thinking how students will be prepared to get a job later in life. He proposed that it is the government’s responsibility that students not only do well on standardized tests, but are also better prepared for future career development. He and DiNapoli mentioned looking forward to working together when Stringer takes office as New York Comptroller in 2014.

Comptroller-Elect Scott Stringer Presentation


CWA local 1180 President Cheliotes, in an impassioned admonishment of the elite 1%, asserted the importance of the middle class for growing and sustaining the economy. He argued that small businesses have closed because of the decline of the middle class, decrying the fact that “the wealth of our nation has gone into the hands of the 1%.” The class division, according to Cheliotes, has corrupted our democracy as the 1% has an invested interest in how their government functions, which then allows them to use their money to dictate government policies to their benefit. Cheliotes declared that we have seen a return to corruption, which divides the middle class, and we must come together to right the 1%’s “apparent lack of respect for law, regulation, and public trust.”

Arthur Cheliotes Presentation


Attorney Mark Rifkin discussed the effect of recent laws on the financial services industry. Speaking specifically of the Volcker Rule, which seeks to end high-risk speculation by investment banks and provide more stability in the financial system, Rifkin pointed out that the Volcker Rule is imprecise and “includes as many exceptions as there are rules.” In discussing the newly passed Federal budget, Rifkin noted that it allows our government to avoid another shut down for two years, creating some semblance of stability. He argued that the biggest loser in the new budget is the Tea Party, showing that Americans want change, a point Stringer made earlier.

Mark Rifkin Presentation


Greater New York City Chamber of Commerce President Mark Jaffe closed the event by summing up the major points made by the speakers. Overall, the biggest issue was to create trust and transparency in our financial institutions and Wall Street in order to prevent another economic collapse. “Let’s not forget the pains of the past and monitor government in the future.”

Mark Jaffe Presentation



Q and A Session





Report written by Elizabeth Eames
Photos by Tom Buckner
Video Production by Jeanne Suggs, Suggs Media Productions

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