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"Tools" of the Trade Disappear


The Wall Street poseur becomes an endangered species.

At the height of their power, banks and assorted financial companies attracted the country's best and brightest. But the 6-figure entry-level salaries and liquid lunches drew another element as well: A personality type most commonly known as the douchebag. Social-climbing, preening, would-be playboys passing themselves off as big-time financial players generated Main Street backlash long before Bernie Madoff was indicted.

Now, they're a dying breed.

The blowback started in October 2006, a month that saw the issuing of a record $29 billion in bonds in 99 separate high-yield deals. That same month, Yale student Aleksey Vayner circulated a shamelessly self-promoting video to potential employers, including UBS (UBS), where it instantly went viral.

In the video -- entitled "Impossible is Nothing" -- Vayner waxed hyperbolic about his many attributes: He claimed he could bench press 495 pounds, had started a nonprofit called Youth Empowerment Strategies, launched a hedge fund (Vayner Capital Management LLC) while still in high school, beat Pete Sampras at tennis, been a professional model, worked for the CIA, had the Dalai Lama write his college recommendation letter, and was certified to handle nuclear waste.

Most of these claims, shockingly, were false.

Superbad actor Michael Cera made his own version of the video. "I would best describe myself as a model of personal development and success," he satirically boasted. "And I'm a Gemini. My favorite food is pizza."

Vayner threatened to sue UBS, YouTube, and blogs that covered the story, but it was too late. Despite the humiliating overexposure, Vayner's peers found a forum over at LXTV, a lifestyle site that promises to "take you behind the scenes for VIP access to the cutting edge of luxury lifestyle and the people who define it."

While Vayner's insincere overtures made him a punchline, LXTV aired 2 videos featuring Wall Streeters hitting the requisite New York clubs. In the first, 23 year-old analyst AJ takes his friends out, claiming, "We go top-down - models and bottles."'s fascination with AJ eventually prompted angry comments, such as: "He still lives at home in Westchester with his parents. He's not an analyst but a controller at one of [redacted]'s buildings downtown."

The second LXTV video starred Richie "Bottles," a trader at a large Wall Street Bank whose friend makes a toast to "living single, seeing double, threesomes, foreplay, 5 of a kind, 6-packs, 7 days a week."

Footage of the douchebag in his natural habitat inspired widespread horror and disgust - and LXTV never aired another Wall Street-does-nightlife segment.

So where have all the douchebags gone? Vayner apparently took a leave of absence from Yale before self-publishing a book entitled Millionaire's Blueprint to Success. AJ and Richie disappeared entirely.

Wherever they went, they aren't missed. Even Gawker, a site that dedicated an entire Hall of Fame to these Wall Street pretenders, has called for an outright ban on the douchebag label. But it was fun while it lasted, for aspiring mini-Madoffs and comedy writers alike.
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