Wall Street’s shenanigans have convinced a large portion of America that the economic game is rigged.Wall Street has shown clearly that they cannot be trusted, but when someone tries to enforce regulations on them what do they do? They whine about how misunderstood they are. They are not misunderstood. They are the organized center of financial greed and immorality in the world.
Yet capitalism depends on trust. Without trust, people avoid even sensible economic risks. They also begin trading in gray markets and black markets. They think that if the big guys cheat in big ways, they might as well begin cheating in small ways. And when they think the game is rigged, they’re easy prey for political demagogues with fast tongues and dumb ideas.
Tally up these costs and it’s a whopper.
Wall Street has blanketed America in a miasma of cynicism. Most Americans assume the reason the Street got its taxpayer-funded bailout without strings in the first place was because of its political clout. That must be why the banks didn’t have to renegotiate the mortgages of Americans – many of whom, because of the economic collapse brought on by the Street’s excesses, are still under water. Some are drowning.
That must be why taxpayers didn’t get equity stakes in the banks we bailed out – as Warren Buffet got when he bailed out Goldman Sachs. That means when the banks became profitable gain we didn’t get any of the upside gains; we just padded the Street’s downside risks.
The Street’s political clout must be why most top Wall Street executives who were bailed out by taxpayers still have their jobs, have still avoided prosecution, are still making vast fortunes – while tens of millions of average Americans continue to lose their jobs, their wages, their medical coverage, or their homes.
And why the Dodd-Frank bill was filled with loopholes big enough for Wall Street executives and traders to drive their ferrari’s through.
The cost of such cynicism has leeched deep into America, causing so much suspicion and anger that our politics has become a cauldron of rage. It’s found expression in Tea Partiers and Occupiers, and millions of others who think the people at the top have sold us out.
Wall Street Bankers are responsible for the current economic problems because they created and sold “financial weapons of mass destruction.” They bought off the regulators with their K-Street lobbyists, and they have supported the libertarian conservative Republicans who have thwarted and stopped government regulation of bank trading and mergers.
Since the (bank-created) collapse of the Savings and Loan institutions in the 1980's commercial banks have been merging until there are now only about five really massive banks. These banks do not do much business with small businesses because such loans do not provide large profits. They instead compete with the financial trading banks like Goldman Sachs for trading profits, using the savings from commercial customers as the basis for their trades. Why not? It's a lot cheaper than borrowing money in the market, isn't it?
But along the way the banks have forgotten that people have to trust them to do business with them. If we express our lack of trust in the massive banks who don't give a shit what happens to us, then we become their enemy. Their enemies are people that the government they buy (see K-Street Lobbyists) is supposed to suppress. The bankers prefer to wield power rather than work to develop trust.
Bob Reich has the banker's number. The bankers have forgotten that they are not in the power business, they are in the trust business. And a lot of us have been burned and no longer trust them.
Smart bankers will push for stronger and more visible regulation. I doubt that there are very many smart bankers on Wall Street in positions of power within the banking structures.