On the New York Times site this morning, we are treated to not one, but two brutal op-ed pieces on the men who benefited most from the boom-and-bust.
In the first, Frank Rich writes about a literary parallel between the crumbling of Lehman and the release of a best-selling crime novel in which the bad guys are the bankers who wreck their own countries in pursuit of profits for their clients…
“A bank director who blows millions on foolhardy speculations should not keep his job,” writes Larsson in one typical passage. “A managing director who plays shell company games should do time.”…He pleads for some “tough reporter” to “identify and expose as traitors” the financial players who have “systematically and perhaps deliberately” damaged their country’s economy “to satisfy the profit interests of their clients.”
The article goes on to expose the fairy tale that the top bank execs were themselves ruined by the financial crisis, instead reminding us that they paid themselves around a quarter of a billion each for their leadership of the past decade.
And in case you aren’t disgusted enough, there is the other op-ed by Roger Lowenstein to consider from the other day, the one where that age old question is asked and partially answered: “Who Needs Wall Street?”…
Mike Mayo is a veteran of six Wall Street banks. In the wake of the street’s disaster, he found refuge at a boutique brokerage and has lately taken to startling his peers with the question “What part of Goldman Sachs is good for the country?” Regular people will be tempted to answer, “None of it,” but the question reminds us that, at least in theory, Wall Street serves society (not the other way around).
Lowenstein breaks down the societal importance of trading, capital raising and the CDS freak show in the piece.
Even after a 75% S&P rally, the PR firms of The Street have their work cut out for them.