Business Profile: New York’s economy was already contracting before the attacks of September 2001, due to the US recession. Although offices were quickly reopened in new buildings and the stock markets were reopened within a week, the confidence and sense of security in the city’s financial district were irreversibly damaged. The benchmark Dow Jones and NASDAQ stock indices both suffered major falls in the weeks after 11 September 2001. Under the presidency of George W. Bush, the nation’s economy has been substantially weakened and New York City companies continue to use downsizing as a way to stay afloat, laying off hundreds of thousands of workers. In December 2002, the city’s unemployment rate stood at 8.4%, a 2% increase from 2001. The decline in jobs – amounting to a loss of 176,000 jobs in two years – has been more than three times as great, percentage-wise, as in the nation as a whole, which averages an unemployment rate of 6%.
Despite the American economy’s recent downturn, New York City remains an international capital of the business world, with nearly 25% of all non-American businesses having headquarters in the city. However, as New York also remains an expensive place in which to do business, this has begun to shift, with businesses moving to the city’s borders and New Jersey. Most major global business players still have a strong presence here – including American Express, Barclays and KPMG – and New York boasts the world’s biggest stock exchange, located on Manhattan’s Wall Street. Nearly half a million people are employed in banking, real estate and insurance, although the city is also a major international player in the fields of fashion, media and advertising. The real growth industry in New York, over the last three decades – since the brilliant and phenomenally successful ‘Big Apple’ marketing campaign of the early 1970s – is tourism. In the wake of the September 2001 attacks, however, visitor levels sunk, although Times Square now teems again with the tourists who collectively spend some 30 million US Dollars every year.
Business Etiquette: While on business in New York, normal business courtesies should be observed, although New Yorkers are less formal than Europeans and usually use first names. Both men and women in finance usually wear suits; in other industries, attire might be much less formal. Appointments and punctuality for business meetings are naturally expected. Business hours are officially weekdays, 0900–1730, although an extended working day is very common in certain sectors and it is not unusual for people to be working well into the night or over the weekend. Business meetings frequently take place over breakfast, brunch and lunch. For lunch meetings, alcohol, in moderation, is acceptable.