Emily Wright sees history being made in New York

The bail-out package has been voted down. Shares are plummeting. World history is been made. So, what is the atmosphere like on Wall Street while the US economy goes into meltdown?

Actually, it’s crowded. As the TV crews gather around the stock exchange building waiting for the bell to signal the end of trading, I sneak round the back to see if I can catch an investor having a cheeky cigarette – if I’d just lost millions of dollars, that’s where I’d be.

And there they are in their hordes, pink shirts, slicked-back hair and Marlboro Reds aplenty. I eventually manage to find a couple of traders willing to talk, and their message came as no surprise: “We’ve lost a lot of money today. Millions. You won’t find many people to talk to. Everyone is hiding under their desks right now.”

Back on the main street, tensions are running high. A fight has just broken out between an American journalist and a UK tourist over 9/11. The camera crews are distracted, and the first trader to emerge from the building almost slips away unnoticed. Almost.

The prospects for the industry over the next few years are very precarious. It is critical the government maintains spending plans

Michael Ankers, CPA

When he is spotted, he is suddenly surrounded by journalists. In true, good ol’ US-of-A style, Mr Trader smiles and laughs the crisis off as questions are fired at him: “Who do you work for?” “How much have you lost?” “What happens now?”

I ask if he is worried about the situation and he says: “No. I'll sleep beautifully tonight.” Doubtful, unless he has a sizeable stash of Valium in his bedside drawer.

As the traders and investors start to pour out of the buildings, the press feeding frenzy continues, but after two hours on Wall Street I eventually tear myself away. Once you’ve seen a hundred depressed men in suits you’ve kind of seen them all.