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Wall Street is one of the world's largest financial markets. It is located in New York City. It is also the name of the street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River. It is the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies. Anchored by Wall Street, New York City is one of the principal financial centers of the world.

Several major U.S. stock and other exchanges have headquarters on Wall Street and in the Financial District, including the NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, NYMEX, and NYBOT.

Wall Street is at the heart of public financing and the United States economy.

Wall Street in the New York economy

Wall Street pay, in terms of salaries and bonuses and taxes, is an important part of the economy of New York City, the tri-state metropolitan area, and the United States. In 2008, after a downturn in the stock market, the decline meant $18 billion less in taxable income, with less money available for "apartments, furniture, cars, clothing and services". A falloff in Wall Street's economy could have "wrenching effects on the local and regional economies".

Estimates vary about the number and quality of financial jobs in the city. One estimate was that Wall Street firms employed close to 200,000 persons in 2008.Another estimate was that in 2007, the financial services industry which had a $70 billion profit became 22 percent of the city's revenue. Another estimate (in 2006) was that the financial services industry makes up 9% of the city's work force and 31% of the tax base. An additional estimate (2007) from Steve Malanga of the Manhattan Institute was that the securities industry accounts for 4.7 percent of the jobs in New York City but 20.7 percent of its wages, and he estimated there were 175,000 securities-industries jobs in New York (both Wall Street area and midtown) paying an average of $350,000 annually. Between 1995 and 2005, the sector grew at an annual rate of about 6.6% annually, a respectable rate, but that other financial centers were growing faster. Another estimate (2008) was that Wall Street provided a fourth of all personal income earned in the city, and 10% of New York City's tax revenue.

The seven largest Wall Street firms in the first decade of the 21st century were Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup Incorporated, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. During the recession of 20082010, many of these firms went out of business or were bought up at firesale prices by other financial firms. In 2008, Lehman filed for bankruptcy, Bear Stearns was bought up by JP Morgan Chase with blessing by the U.S. government, and Merrill Lynch was bought up by Bank of America. These failures marked a catastrophic downsizing of Wall Street as the financial industry goes through restructuring and change. Since New York's financial industry provides almost one-fourth of all income produced in the city, and accounts for 10% of the city's tax revenues and 20% of the state's, the downturn has had huge repercussions for government treasuries. New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly over a four year period dangled over $100 million in tax incentives to persuade Goldman Sachs to build a 43-story headquarters in the financial district near the destroyed World Trade Center site. In 2009, things looked somewhat gloomy, with one analysis by the Boston Consulting Group suggesting that 65,000 jobs had been permanently lost because of the downturn. But there were signs that Manhattan property prices were rebounding with price rises of 9% annually in 2010, and bonuses were being paid once more, with average bonuses over $124,000 in 2010.The U.S. banking industry employs 1.86 million people and earned profits of $22 billion in the second quarter of 2010, up substantially from previous quarters.

Wall Street vs. Main Street

The term "Wall Street" can refer to big business interests against those of industrial and small business and the working of middle class. It is sometimes used more specifically to refer to research analysts, shareholders, and financial institutions such as investment banks. Whereas "Main Street" conjures up images of locally owned businesses and banks, the phrase "Wall Street" is commonly used interchangeably with the phrase "Corporate America". It is also sometimes used in contrast to distinguish between the interests, culture, and lifestyles of investment banks and those of Fortune 500 industrial or service corporations.

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