For many workers financial crisis means lost weekends

Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:00pm EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Busy Wall Street worker Michael Pento used to relax on weekends playing with his 4-year-old son. Now he just laughs wryly at the thought of free time.

The hedge fund market strategist is one of countless people for whom the global financial crisis has brought the demise of the relaxing weekend and the onslaught of anxiety-filled, seemingly endless workweeks.

Many U.S. workers are stuck at the office grappling with the twists and turns of world markets, economies and company performances. Others are working more to make up for dwindling savings, still others are reluctant to spend money on weekend fun and, for many of the growing number of unemployed, work-free weekends aren't fun at all.

Hardest hit directly may be Wall Street and government workers implementing the unprecedented billion-dollar bailouts, followed by state and local officials, executives, business owners and retailers facing lower revenues and absent credit.

"If you're involved in government or in financial services, weekends mean nothing right now. This is a 24-and-7 crisis," said Jared Bernstein, author of "Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?"

"It's not just Henry Paulson, et al, crafting some new plan over the course of a weekend," he said. "It's the rest of us trying to figure out what the heck he's talking about."

Pento, 45, a senior market strategist for Delta Global Advisors, said he works weekends to follow breaking news.

Instead of spending time with his son, the Holmdel, New Jersey, resident said: "Now I'm constantly saying on the weekends, 'Shhhh, I've got to hear this.'"   Continued...