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From long hours on Wall Street to lots of free time

A mergers and acquisitions associate laid off in 2008 lives with his parents and day trades from his home computer. He earns much less than before, but says he doesn’t miss the grueling schedule.<br><br><runtime:include slug="la-fi-ryan-580image"/><br>

When he lost his finance job more than two years ago, Ryan Payne was seized with self-doubt. How, he asked himself, could a guy with an MBA, a law degree and bright prospects end up moving back in with his parents?

The short answer is the U.S. financial crisis of 2008. The Southern California native was working as a mergers and acquisitions associate at a New York investment bank. when he got the ax.

Payne submitted dozens of resumes and applications to other companies. But with thousands of professionals with blue-chip credentials competing for a shrunken pool of financial services positions, he got little response.

Saddled with $100,000 in student loans and consumer debt, he moved back in with his mother and father, whom he jokingly refers to as his "two older roommates." He now trades commodities online from his laptop at home. He hasn't sent out a resume in two months.

"I'm out of the job hunt orbit now, just floating out there," Payne said.

To lift his spirits and get himself out of the house, Payne, a former high-school wrestling team captain, formed a club of jobless young professionals, the Westside Unemployment Appreciation Team.

The group, which now boasts more than 70 members, gathers occasionally for cheap outings such as bike rides, because, as Payne explains on the organization's website: "Managing underperformance and diminished expectations should not be your new full-time gig!"

Payne said learning to laugh at himself and find some joy in his situation has been key to maintaining perspective. Although he longs for his old salary and the prestige of working on Wall Street, he said he doesn't miss the cutthroat atmosphere and grueling hours.

"I slept under my desk on my birthday in 2007 and I would often shower at the gym in lieu of going home," he said.

He now uses his ample free time to surf, stay in shape and take comedy classes. He's also looking inward, with " yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and coping mechanisms that I didn't have before."

Payne rises early to day trade. It's a solitary vocation that requires a mix of discipline and risk-taking. He has yet to strike it rich. But he said any day he turns a profit, even a small one, is a good day.

"I'm no longer looking for a job to save me," he said. "I'm not in that 'Oh my God, oh my God, what do I do' position anymore…. Maybe I am really thankful for this time off."

ron.white@latimes.com


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