Look, I've got no problem with Mayor Bloomberg ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, and I realize how integral Wall Street is to the identity of New York City (as well as to Bloomberg's own success). But I think that Bloomberg doing it today -- to the ecstatic cheers of traders on the floor -- shows a kind of tone-deafness to the immediate needs of everyone in the NY area. It feels like one of those "Go Shopping" moments to me.
While countless New Yorkers lack power, heat, and water, and thousands across at least 4 of the 5 NYC boroughs lack homes right now, it seems to me that the mayor of the largest city in the country, by far the highest-profile politician in the storm's destructive path, should be, both in deed and in message, laser-focused on the highest-priority and most immediate needs of his residents.
In other words, the emphasis should be on humans, not markets. The big Wall Street banks will return to business-as-usual without any help from Mayor Bloomberg. But recovery from Hurricane Sandy will not be measured by the operations of the NYSE or the level of the Dow, but rather by the rebuilding of lives and communities that have been affected. Despite Mitt Romney's recent proclamation that "Corporations are people too, my friend," they are, in fact, not. And while reopening Wall Street may have large symbolic and practical value for the city, its immediate, short-term impact on getting lives, roads, power, water, heat, transit, schools, waste collection, and essential social services back to normal is virtually nil.