About Me

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New York City, New York, United States
41 year old African-American Male. I like to think of myself as a jack of all trades and a master of none...I rely on reasoned common sense, rationality and what my gut tells me is right/wrong (combined with the well reasoned opinions of others!). I don't consider myself an expert on anything in particular, but I have lots of opinions.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wall Street Views OWS with Disdain

According to this story in the New York Times, most bankers privately view the OWS crowd with disdain...That's not really surprising considering that a prime (although not the sole) target of the protesters appear to be excessive corporate greed (as I understand the OWS movement).  There is no place that I can think of where corporate greed is more pervasive than on Wall Street.  I mean, honestly...one banker quoted in the article stated that financial services is one area left in this country where "we" (meaning, presumably, Americans) perform well.  Really?  The economic downturn of the last several years was caused by whom?  The sole proprietor of the bodega around the corner from my house?  Or, maybe it was my local dry cleaner? Perhaps it was the sales clerk who helped me at a local department store this afternoon...

I don't personally know any of the organizers or the protesters (so, I can't profess to speak for them), but I certainly understand their pain and fristration...The rate of income inequality in this country is a sad state of affairs (and, contrary to the popular narrative, is not a correlative to effort and/or competence---either for those on the top or the bottom of the inequality pyramid).  I was a proponent of the TARP program because I was under the belief that it was necessary to stave off wide spread economic disaster....But, I wasn't a fan of providing bailouts to the largest financial institutions without conditions (which is exactly what the politicians did).  To express their grattitude for saving their behinds, what did the bankers do?  Instead of using the money to ease the credit crunch (which presumably was  factor in causing the downturn to reverberate throughout the economy), they instead awarded themselves out sized bonuses that in no way were tide to performance (or, they wouldn't have needed the bailouts in the first place!).  I still have a hard time understanding how/why AIG was allowed conscious to pay their counter parties 100% on the dollar for claims (what ever happened to negotiating!) or how AIG was able in good conscious to award retention bonuses to their employees (again, whatever happened to negotiation?!  As a condition of receiving federal bailout fund, AIG should have been required to go back to all necessary parties and re-negotiate those agreements!!!!!!)...I also don't understand how a hudgefund manager is able to pay a federal tax rate of 15% on his/her income (which is often many multiples of millions of dollars) under the auspices that the income is a "return on investment" or the equivalent of a dividend.  The reality is that most hedge fund managers are not really earning a return on their own actual investment (of either their sweat or financial equity).  The money used to make their risky investments is often borrowed.  Contrast that 15% tax rate with the rate federal tax rate of 25% - 35% for folks earning a standard salary (and who lack the funds to lobby politicans for favorable tax treatment).

Here is but another example of questionable business practices by one of the country's "esteemed bankers"....Goldman Sachs makes a foray into the shady area of for-profit educational institutions...The institution at issue experiences phenomenal growth (and, therefore, an substantial increase in federally guaranteed student aid)...Except that the enrolled students have questionable credentials, are often manipulated and/or coerced into enrolling and when they default on their government back loans, the average American (that's you and I) are left holding the bag while Godman makes out like a bandit (literally).

So, when a banker says that s/he doesn't understand why Americans are so upset about the current economic climate or that they don't "get" the ire of the OWS crowd, I respond that s/he (the banker) just doesn't get it....and, I suggest a look period of introspection...

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