Incoming NYSE Chairman Deplores the Materialism of the ‘80s

From Associated Press

The incoming chairman of the New York Stock Exchange took to the pulpit at a Manhattan cathedral Sunday to denounce the materialism of the 1980s and the gap between rich and poor.

During his 25-minute sermon, William H. Donaldson, who will take office in January, called the 1980s a decade in which “it was easy to see how good things were for some people and even easier to not see how bad things had become for others.”

It should not be left to the captains of industry and government to reverse the tide of selfishness and greed, Donaldson said.

“It is a spirit that must spring from the individual, not the employee manual,” he said.


Donaldson urged everyone from the “chairman of the board to the janitor” to share their talents to promote a sense of well-being in New York, the city that spawned Wall Street.

Donaldson, 59, a securities industry veteran, will be the fourth full-time chairman of the New York Stock Exchange since the position was created in 1972.

In 1959, one year out of Harvard Business School, he and two friends founded Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. He left in 1973 after the company became the nation’s 10th-largest brokerage.

Donaldson’s brief transformation into preacher stemmed from a rally last May during which Mayor David Dinkins called on civic leaders to help restore faith and community in the city. The sermon was held at St. John the Divine, the world’s largest cathedral.


Donaldson’s was the first of a series of weekly sermons dedicated to what church officials call “sharing visions.”

Gwendolyn Baker, president of the New York Board of Education; Betty Allen, executive director of the Harlem School for the Arts, and the Rev. Ibrahim Haddad of the Arab Ministry are a few of the scheduled speakers.