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Things aren't looking good for the Sun's surviving competitors either. All of them have physically shrunk over the past year: both the Times and the Post are narrower or shorter by about four centimetres and the Times has cut its four daily sections to two.

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As I write, it is shaping up to be the worst week ever in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Rumour has it that both of the city's tabloids have teams of reporters ready to cover suicides of the recently rich, but so far no one is jumping out of windows. "Do you think it actually felt like this in 1929?" I'm asked by a writer-turned-internet-entrepreneur enjoying the October sun on a bench in the park. "Maybe we imagine that it was more dramatic and all-encompassing than it really was." As we talk, he repeatedly checks his BlackBerry for the latest news of the market, marvelling at its vertiginous drops. But for him, like many people not directly involved in finance, the immediate state of the stock market is a relatively abstract concern. The value of his retirement account has dropped but he's fairly sure it will go up again long before he retires - if he retires - in a decade.

One of the things that New York businessmen find strange about London is the absence of shoe-shine shops. There are dozens of them in midtown and downtown Manhattan and these days they are almost entirely staffed by Central American immigrants. For nostalgic reasons, I visited Infinity Shoe Repair, my favourite from my days as a midtown lawyer during the recession of the early '90s. The shop, with its eight high chairs, is down in the subway near the Citicorp skyscraper and close to the HQ of Lehman Brothers. Hector, who runs the place, says that his business is already down by 25 per cent. People like Hector and his staff are among the half-a-million or so working-class and poor New Yorkers whose incomes are directly tied to the fortunes of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who work in finance.

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Steve Beaman
November 20th, 2008
9:11 PM
Mr. Foreman, are you the same Jonathan Foreman that hung out with the scout platoon in Iraq in 2003?

Glenn Horowitz
November 1st, 2008
3:11 PM
The key unasked question in Mr.Foreman's elegant piece is: when the crisis concludes, as all crisis' must, will the traditional high income jobs NYC depends upon return in abundance or will enterprises avail themselves, finally, of new technologies to do what humans once did? The downtown may provide the space and time to implement the promises new technology has long held out for efficiency and speed.

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