The insider trading dragnet has sparked terror among the rank and file of Wall Street.
It's clear from what's been revealed in press reports that federal authorities have been wire-tapping many conversations between employees at big Wall Street firms and outside consultants. They may also have been intercepting emails.
This strikes fear in the hearts of many on Wall Street, who worry that an email may seem incriminating or may be personally embarrassing.
"If I went out late with a client, and we traded emails the next day about our 'crazy night,' it may not be the kind of thing we want splashed across the front page of the Wall Street Journal," one lower-level investment banker said.
It's not so far fetched. The Securities and Exchange Commission made public emails between Fabrice Tourre of Goldman Sachs and a young woman he was apparently trying to seduce, including one in which he referred to himself as "Fabulous Fab." It's very easy for these kind of things to become embarrassing when taken out of context.
The scariest place to work right now may be Goldman Sachs, which was named in reports as a potential hot spot for investigative attention. The Wall Street Journal mentioned that the investigation by federal authorities could include "low level" Goldman employees, which has every analyst and vice-president at Goldman wondering whether their phone has been tapped.
"We have no idea who is listening to what. I'm going to be wondering if Thanksgiving is the last day when I'm not infamous," said one Goldman employee.
What would make him infamous?
"I'm not an insider trader. But I deal with hedge fund investments. And last year my girlfriend dumped me because I work too hard. I don't need those emails coming out," he said.
I told him that they probably wouldn't. And that might be true. As long as he didn't come up with an incriminating nick-name for himself.
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