Americas

In Crisis, Wall Street Turns to Prayer

Financial meltdown triggers prayer sessions citywide.

Starting early last Sunday morning, the turmoil in New York's financial markets triggered a spiritual response among Christian leaders reminiscent of the response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Cell phone text messages quickly spread calls to prayer. "Barclay has pulled out of Lehman deal," one announced. Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers was finalizing bankruptcy papers; Merrill Lynch was clinching its deal to sell itself to Bank of America. Monday would be devastating.

Many Wall Streeters realized that the crisis could be earthshaking. A. J. Rice, well-respected CEO of the hedge-fund firm Pomeroy Capital, says, "Most people think this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. In 1987 we had a dramatic shock, but the other shoe didn't drop." This year, a whole lot of shoes have dropped. Wall Streeters have lived with a constant sense of foreboding.

First there was the January sub-prime market crash and its ongoing problems; then the collapses of Bear Stearns and, most recently, Lehman Brothers; and ...

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