Wall St. trader with something on his mind
I shouldn’t have eaten that Filet-o-Fish

In a perverse, if not accurate, sign of the times, there is a new trend in New York: bankers, traders, and other Wall St. types are eating at McDonald’s to save money!

Following the shenanigans in the banking and finance sector, we can’t fault these fellas for trying to be savvy with their personal spending, but McDonald’s? Really?

The New York Post has an article which highlights not so much the fact that these guys are at McDonald’s, but rather the great disparity between their current and previous lunching habits. Wall St. traders and bankers had been famous for their lavish lifestyle — including elaborate lunches of fine foods and drink. My, how the mighty have fallen.

This points once again to an interesting phenomenon in the world of brands and consumerism — shopping by price alone. Obviously, times are tough, and we’re all feeling the pain, and subsequently we’re seeing luxury brands like Whole Foods and Bergdorf Goodman suffering massively from their previous positions. Meanwhile, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are seeing their sales rise. People are shopping for budget brands and casting aside their normal criteria for evaluating products and services.

But doesn’t this spit in the face of the whole price vs. quality spectrum? Yes, McDonald’s is cheap, but it’s also the worst possible food to be acquired in our great City. Surely there is some in-between dining option wherein busy executives can find a solid meal at a reasonable price. This is the brand equivalent of getting caught in the back of a limo with a transexual hooker — what ever happened to the dignified mistress?

Even in a down economy, the power of a brand lays in its product. A quality brand that serves the customer will endure. But a bargain basement brand that sucks the life from the economy might make a dollar, but they will never advance in the collective consumer mind. So laugh it up, McDonald’s, ’cause when things turn around you won’t find yourself with a loyal new customer base, but instead with empty chairs.

As for you, big-wig Wall St. guy, you should have better abilities to manage your personal finances! Until I see you wearing the same shirt and tie every day, and walking a hole in your un-shined shoes, I don’t believe you’re totally strapped for cash. Get your damn trophy wife to make you a sandwich. You might even live to see the other side of this recession.