With markets continuing to swoon, the next shoe to drop is likely to be hedge funds. That means tough times for hedge-fund filled Greenwich, Conn. (As Nick Paumgarten wrote in the New Yorker magazine recently, “If New York City is the heart of the marketplace, Greenwich is the liver, where toxins are processed and rich bits collect.”)
Greenwich collected so many rich bits in recent years that its small population of about 60,000 contributed nearly $600 million in state income taxes in 2006. In other words, Greenwich pays 13% of all state income taxes in Connecticut with only 1.8% of the population.

According to an article by Christopher Keating in the Hartford Courant, the town and state are bracing for lower tax revenue. There are no signs yet that Greenwichers are hurting–Saks, Tiffany and Brooks Brothers are still busy and the local Rolls Royce dealers (there are two) say their clientele is largely immune.   Yet local residents like Lehman Brothers’ Dick Fuld–he of the $700 million stock loss–just won’t be writing the big tax checks that they used to. Charities are expecting a lighter haul this year.
There also is the human cost to the financial floods, the collective psychological breakdown that occurs when Greenwich’s billionaires become mere millionaires.
“It’s the human toll that is frightening,” said State Rep. Livvy Floren, a friend of Mr. Fuld. “Dick Fuld has spent 39 years of his life doing this. It’s more than just money. They’re not going to be in the streets starving….I think the man worked 24/7. His family and Lehman are his life.”
A deeper analysis was offered by local Democrat Ned Lamont, who in one fell swoop compared Greenwich’s money woes to the Japan malaise, Asian tsunami and the New Orleans flood.
“It really is a financial tsunami, and it could go either way,” said the multimillionaire telecommunications mogul who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006. “It took Japan 20 years to recover from their buying binge. How long does it take us to work through excessive leverage? That could take years not months. This is our Katrina.”