Why Does Reputation Count for So Little on Wall Street?

There is a very peculiar article by Steven Davidoff up at the New York Times: “As Wall St. Firms Grow, Their Reputations Are Dying.” It asks a good question: why does reputation now matter for so little in the big end of the banking game? As we noted on the blog yesterday, a documentary team was struggling to find anyone who would go on camera and say positive things about Goldman, yet widespread public ire does not seem to have hurt its business an iota.

Some of Davidoff’s observation are useful, but his article goes wide of the mark on much of its analysis of why Wall Street has become an open cesspool of looting and chicanery (as opposed to keeping the true nature of the predatory aspects of the business under wraps as much as possible).

The bottom line on this article might be: don’t look to lawyers to do industry analysis.

Davidoff blames the changes on size and technology. That’s inaccurate. Very large companies can still compete based on service quality: think airlines with outstanding service like Emirates or Singapore Air. And as we will discuss shortly, technology was not at the top of the casual chain in the sea changes that took place in the capital markets businesses.

The biggest culprit far and away was the end of private partnerships. The NYSE rule requiring that members be partnerships was revoked in 1970, but the first firms to go public were low life retail brokers known as “wire houses”; the white shoe investment banks stayed private. The first nail in the Wall Street reputational coffin was the explosive growth of the bond trading business, fueled by newly volatile interest rates in the stagflationary 1970s. Traditional investment banks (the sort that did M&A and lead managed underwritings) didn’t need much capital, but bond traders did. And trading has very strong network effects (which means disproportionate returns to scale) and high barriers to entry (you needed to be a major player in Treasuries, major corporate issues, and interest rate swaps in all major time zones, which implied not just tech but other infrastructure: offices, salesmen, communications).

The rapidly escalating infrastructure costs (bond inventories, scale needed to be in all important markets) produced a winner-take-nearly-all market. Bond king Salomon, which had gone public via a merger with Phibro, earned more than the rest of the industry combined. Its shell shocked competitors went public, either by merging into bigger public companies or by offering their own shares. Goldman was the lone holdout, taking instead an offer of capital from Sumitomo Bank.

Partnerships are conservative for two reasons. One is widely discussed: they have unlimited liability. A partner can lose everything. That tends to focus the mind and leads partnerships to be very careful and deliberate as to who they admit into their inner circle and how they monitor non-partner risk-takers. But second is that partnership capital is illiquid. The most likely exit is to extract equity gradually via sale to younger members of the firm. But they aren’t rich; in most cases, they earn their way in via their share of firm profits. Thus the partners are forced to take a very long term view of the value of their franchise. They don’t merely have to get to retirement; they have to do what they can to make sure that the next generation of partnership will be good enough stewards to be able to cash them out.

The end of private partnerships was far and away the most important change. It allowed for the culture to shift to a vastly more short term orientation and also encouraged the firms to use more leverage, which over time shifted the balance of power towards traders (since partnership equity is scarce and costly, pure fee businesses like M&A are prized).

The bond boom and globalization of the US firms set off the first wave of changes. Behavior devolved further with the rise of over the counter derivatives in the 1990s. OTC derivatives benefit from big balance sheets (bank were better positioned to do this business than the investment banks) and are also the perfect venue for chicanery, since only very savvy customers can understand how the trades are priced (the inability to price compare or decompose risks turns customers into sheep to be shorn).

Notice in Frank Partnoy’s FIASCO how he depicts Morgan Stanley’s derivatives operation as savagely predatory. This was a radical change from Morgan’s partnership days, or indeed that of any normal business. Can you think of any enterprise where salesmen are encouraged to “rip customers faces off” or blow them up?

As these businesses made more money, and hardly any bad actors died (Bankers Trust, whose staff was caught on tape discussing with relish the many ways they screwed over customers, did not survive), the traders, who are by nature predatory, began to become more powerfully within their firms, and their mindset began to dominate the firms’ cultures.

But these were hardly the only forces at work. Enforcement in the securities business, ex insider trading cases, was a joke. By contrast, the SEC was feared in the 1970s and early 1980s. Corporate America had started playing investment banks off against one another in the 1980s, going from working closely with one or two firms to using “beauty contests”. Putting Wall Street on a transactional footing gave the investment banks less reason to worry about reputation and more cause to focus on raw placement muscle. And in the 1990s, as big companies became more and more short-term oriented and CEO pay skyrocketed, it provided useful cover for the deterioration in Wall Street behavior.

Davidoff misses a key driver in this section:

In the absence of reputation, the government and regulators act as substitutes to ensure appropriate conduct. The government becomes the enforcer through civil and criminal actions for law-breaking. So what you get is more law to cover for lost reputation.

This is simplistic. Prior to the rise of the less regulated bond markets (the SEC figured bond buyers were big boys and focused more on equities) and largely unregulated derivatives markets, most of what was the securities market took place in the heavily regulated equities markets. My recollection is that over 70% of Wall Street profits circa 1970 was from equity brokerage. Even if you care about reputation, you get credit for it less in an unregulated market than a regulated market. It’s harder for customers to know who the bad guys are when no one is policing. As the example of Bernie Madoff attests, a good bedside manner and hanging out with the right people is too easily mistaken for honor.

Ryan Chittum contends that a recent New York Magazine article by John Gapper shows that financiers secretly want to reined in:

… the quotes he gets from anonymous Wall Street executives…look something like cries for help. Sort of an “Deep down I hate what I do, please tie my hands. ‘Cause if you don’t, then I gotta do what I gotta do.”

I wish that were true, but the evidence suggests otherwise. If financial services incumbents are really suffering from guilty consciences, they could always go into other lines of work. I think they’d simply like to be better thought of but make pretty much the same money as they do now. And the primacy of the money making means there’s no reason to expect a new spirit of self-dicsipline, and every reason to believe they’ll fight outside constraint, just as they do now.

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  1. Expat

    Most of Wall Street has no moral compass. They are guided by what they can get away with, not by what is “right” to society. No one gets bonuses or promotions for being good. Congress gets no slush funds from Goldman if Goldman doesn’t rip a client’s face off.

    Reputation used to matter because of increased pressure from regulators who would apply the cockroach theory (if there’s one,then there are hundreds). Today, there is little to no regulation.

    Clients have little choice since we have consolidated the banking industry. Banks have also discovered that they can make money without or despite clients by trading against the government or in massive derivatives markets where the end clients turn out to be governments anyway (bailouts).

  2. bmeisen

    Thank you Yves for this … ehrm … exective summary. Funny that while Econned, Partnoy, Tett document your points with high-grained detail, the era’s biggest seller, Sorkin, is able to avoid the story almost entirely.

    Better examples of big companies winning with service quality are BMW, Daimler, VW’s Audi. New-car buyers in Germany don’t buy off a lot. They place an order with the manufacturer and wait a few months. And on lower shelves I find that a substantial part of McDonld’s success is their service.

    1. sgt_doom

      Say, is that the same Steven Davidoff who applauded the Blackstone Groups’ purchase of several congressional crooks to get a change in the tax code allowing BG to go public while continuing to pay the lower cap gains tax????

  3. Max424

    “The first nail in the Wall Street reputational coffin was the explosive growth of the bond trading business, fueled by newly volatile interest rates in the stagflationary 1970s.”

    And what fueled the fuel that fueled interest rate volatility? Why it was fuel* that fueled the fuel that fueled volatility.

    Peak Oil; more powerful than all the other narratives combined, times five.

    * aka oil, petroleum, Black Gold, Texas Tea

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The 1970s inflation was the result of both Johnson and Nixon era fiscal deficits, and they both leaned on the Fed to keep money loose. That led to the Nixon Shock, the US going off the gold standard. The dollar fell nearly 50% in trade weighted terms. The Saudis used Israel as an excuse to hike oil prices to recover from the US trashing its currency (which was the result of strains sustained fiscal deficits put on the Bretton Woods system).

      The 1970s inflation had nothing to do with peak oil.

      1. jake chase

        Haven’t you ever wondered why the US military and banks and corporations permitted Saudi Arabia to quadruple the oil price, or do you really believe in this self determination nonsense and think some sheik with a Harvard MBA masterminded the whole thing?

        1. psychohistorian

          It is nice to read someone else that alludes to the existence of global collaboration that seems to be beyond the comprehension of most.

  4. Usha

    Perhaps the lack of any significant punishment for immoral and criminal activity, mainstreams such actions.

    Now, we are no longer “astounded” by new revelations; they are to be expected. The market has already accounted for them and the “share price” has reached equilibrium.

  5. craazyman

    I don’t believe it’s inconceivable that some financiers want Wall Street to be reigned in — although certainly not all, for sure.

    They don’t need the money they make for any useful and healthy life purpose. So they operate in the throes of an addiction. And they know they are controlled by their addiction, and so they hate themselves, like addicts will, for their lack of self-control. They also see what their addiction is doing to the nation and the world, and guilt collides with craving, making the addiction even more disturbing.

    And so they hate their actions, they hate the world that lets them act, and they dehumanize the victims who suffer from it as a third means of rebellion — in that instinctive blood-level way that the strong hate the weak.

    I doubt it is a very happy life they lead, seeking continuous distractions from the baubels of riches and ego, racing headlong at the gigantic void.

    1. drip

      Some want to be reigned in. Some want to keep lying and stealing. Some though, most I’ll bet, want regulations to force the bad actors to comply as they want to, but this majority is not strong enough to walk away. They will take the money and justify their conduct with some version of “I don’t like it, but this is how the industry runs, so I have to do what I can to get my share.”

      Further, in a country where possession of a week’s supply of marijuana can cost you ownership of your car and all your cash as well as incarceration, it is inconceivable to me how these folks are walking free.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Drip;
        The independant and nonconforming elements of society are always disproportionatly sanctioned as an “easy” way of enforcing the primacy of the top tier elites. It is always easier to demonize a group than tolerate it. Tolerance suggests alternate views of social organization, and thus threatens the elites “elite” status. Such narrow minded thinking generally leads to spectacular social meltdowns via systemic collapse. That’s the beauty of it all. Today, socio-economic practicioners do the hard work of searching for models and methods to reduce this wild “boom and bust” cyclic system. All while working for people who don’t want to understand, much less do anything signifigant about it. Oh my, what’s a poor semi sentient bipedal critter to do?

  6. Justicia

    If investors keep throwing their money at them regardless of their lack of ethics or integrity, then the banksters win. The sad truth is most investors don’t care as long as they think they’re getting good returns. Despite getting burned repeatedly, they still invest in the fraud economy. Pension fund fiduciaries — even the ones that are supposedly “responsible investors” (check out the PRI website)– are still clients of Goldman et al.

    1. F. Beard

      The sad truth is most investors don’t care as long as they think they’re getting good returns. Justicia

      Well, what choice do they have? Put their money in a savings account and earn negative real interest on it?

      1. Art Eclectic

        Given the condition of most people’s IRA’s and 401k’s after the past decade, they would have done better with the money in a boring old savings account.

        Frankly, I think the entire idea of “investing” as we know it today is about to crumble. “Investing” is no longer investing in the growth of a well run company, it is handing over you money to a company full of overpaid masters of the universe who are going to make a pile for themselves on it and give you back the crusts.

        Better to invest in yourself and make sure you have a sustainable future by spending that money on getting your energy needs met with renewables and self-generation. Energy and water and the long-term danger to people’s finances, a smart “investor” is preparing for that.

        1. F. Beard

          Nope. We should not concede the field of investing to the crooks. However, even routing the crooks out is not sufficient. The money system itself is fundamentally dishonest. Essentially, we have a government backed and enforced counterfeiting cartel in the US.

  7. LeeAnne

    a documentary team was struggling to find anyone who would go on camera and say positive things about Goldman, yet widespread public ire does not seem to have hurt its business an iota.

    There are no people in the equation, and Wall Street is Santa Claus to the people they actually hang out with. So, what’s to care about? The guy with the most pricey toys wins.

    As for wanting to be reined it, it should be obvious that in a land with no rules, killers, thieves and liars rise to the top.

    Even their minions making millions might wish they could relate to a higher self in their work. But of course, there’s always the charitable event to tell yourself you actually care.

  8. Jim A

    At some level, the root of this is a part of many cons. You DON’T have to convince the mark that that you’re not a con-man. You just have to convince him they you are partners and that somebody else is the mark. So people send money to the biggest crooks on Wall Street convinced that those crooks will leverage that money and savagely Rodger somebody else.

      1. Cedric Regula

        I think Larry Kudlow said essentially the same thing a couple years ago, but he made it sound like a good idea….

        1. Cedric Regula

          Then again, timing is everything. I knew a guy who bought the triple short finance ETF during the meltdown and was crowing about how he was making $40K a DAY. I didn’t follow suite at the time becuase I didn’t know at the time how easily a bank stock can go to zero, even with a great looking quarterly income statement and balance sheet.

  9. Richard

    To the little guy, namely me – the sheeple – there is no such thing as “reputation” on Wall Street except scam, scam, and scam again. Wall streeters are the modern (and past) equivalent of the crooked horse racing parimutual system, or boxing, or any other gambling enterprise in which a small coterie control the odds. When the financial markets acually police themselves (hah!) or there is another game in town, then reputation will come to matter. Until then, they are the epitomy of corrupt monopoly oligarchies everywhere. What Mubarek stole with political power is stolen by Wall Street by the same means without the burdens of governance.

  10. Main Street Muse

    1) The loss of the partnership model is key. Not only are investment bankers no longer accountable for their mistakes, but they focus on short term gain to appease shareholders. This is a very dangerous combination, one that lately has torn down our economy.

    2) In “Liar’s Poker,” Michael Lewis talks about the freakishly voracious and greedy behavior he saw in the investment banking world – back in 1989. Our regulators unfortunately have blatantly ignored that voraciously greedy behavior for decades. Everyone on Wall Street knows they can get away with a lot of unethical behavior. (Except Martha Stewart, apparently.) Even after the collapse of our entire financial sector in 2008, the regulators have done nothing to change the voraciously greedy behaviors of our top bankers.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the only banker other than Madoff who’s been charged with ANYTHING AT ALL following the collapse of our economy is the Fabulous Fabrice Tourre of Goldman Sachs, who was apparently acting as a 20-something lone gunman bent on destroying the financial sector.

    IF true, that is an appalling failure on the part of our justice system. Absolutely appalling because it reveals that our financial/legal/regulatory system is built to uphold shysters and scam artists, not to protect the interests of the nation. This means there is absolutely no incentive for bankers to change their behavior; thus we will reach the brink once again soon enough.

    Are you sure Goldman’s business has not been affected? Or if unaffected, is it because customers have so little choice these days following the crash, which saw major consolidation and reduction in the number of banks who engage in that business?

    It is eminently clear to everyone outside of Wall Street and Washington that the executives in our financial sector are devoted to growing just one thing – their bonus. They are not investing in the country. They absolutely are not “helping us rebuild” – as the new JP Morgan Chase ad campaign would have us believe. [NOTE TO JP MORGAN MARKETING DEPARTMENT – WE’RE NOT AS STUPID AS YOU THINK]

    And FYI – this is a sentiment expressed not only by residents of Main Street, but by various C-level execs I’ve worked with. The business of America simply cannot trust our financial sector. That is a very, very serious issue, one that Alan Greenspan recently overlooked in his article on Activism.

    1. najdorf

      “And correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the only banker other than Madoff who’s been charged with ANYTHING AT ALL following the collapse of our economy is the Fabulous Fabrice Tourre of Goldman Sachs, who was apparently acting as a 20-something lone gunman bent on destroying the financial sector.”

      I’m here to correct you. Lee Farkas of TB&W was convicted just last week.


      You also have the IRS getting aggressive on Swiss banks – the Birkenfeld case and now the CS indictments.

      You also have the SEC getting aggressive on insider trading: Rajaratnam, Kluger, Freeman/Longueil, etc.

      The fact is that we don’t have laws against running a terrible bank that writes terrible mortgages. It is very hard to win those cases. In the areas where the government has good enforcement powers – outright fraud, tax, and insider trading – they have been pushing hard.

      1. Lloyd C. Bankster

        Wow, Lee Farkas of TB&W and now the SEC getting aggressive.

        I’m trembling in my $1,830 Berluti shoes.

        Maybe I’d better give back that $150 million bailout money that I just wired to my personal account in the Cayman’s this morning.

        ha ha ha ha

      2. DownSouth

        najdorf said: “The fact is that we don’t have laws against running a terrible bank that writes terrible mortgages. It is very hard to win those cases. In the areas where the government has good enforcement powers – outright fraud, tax, and insider trading – they have been pushing hard.”

        I believe that to be factually incorrect.

        Read Bill Black. He tells an entirely different story. And because he used to investigate and prosecute this stuff, I believe he might know just a little bit about what he’s talking about.

        1. Mark P.

          ‘Bill Black…might know just a little bit about what he’s talking about.’

          When the entirely mainstream 60 MINUTES can do a television segment covering how banks and bank-affiliated entities have actually created a small industry that routinely creates false documents so that the servicers can then go to court with some semblance of title in order to foreclose on many hundreds of thousands of American homes, what the TV reporters are actually talking about is systemic, nationwide fraud. And so Bill Black is right.

          When the FBI from 2004 onwards was saying that it had evidence that the majority of mortgages being originated were based on faked documentation, it’s fraud. And so, again, Bill Black is right.

          Any reasonably intelligent person can understand the legal difficulties in specific cases, the difficulty of proving negatives, blah, blah, blah. In the end, nevertheless, what we’re looking at is fairly simple.




          From top to bottom, a continent-wide facade edifice of massive fraud, sustained for several years now. So there are multiple points of entry on various levels by which to attack that edifice and bring it down. It’s not that hard.

          Except, of course, if the regulators and the government have absolutely no desire to regulate because they too have been bought by and constitute part of the edifice of fraud.

      3. Main Street Muse

        Najdorf – thanks for proving my point. In 2008, our economy was driven off a cliff by the unethical, immoral and corrupt behavior of our financial sector and there are apparently no laws or regulations that rein in such rapacious behavior.

        In what other sector can a company sell an instrument and simultaneously sell insurance that ensures another party will profit when the company’s own instrument blows up? What’s good for Wall Street is terrible for America.

  11. steelhead23

    The perception that reputation doesn’t matter is among the reasons I am sitting on my cash. I am an ex Stone & Webster employee – a staid old company that was a fee for service engineering firm. Most company stock was held by current and former employees. When the company made some bad business decisions to avoid a hostile takeover, the CEO told us employees “not to worry”, the company had the assets needed to weather the storm. Six months later the company went bankrupt and the ESOP plan went to nearly zero. There is something dreadfully wrong in America. Winning the game by screwing those who have placed trust in you is replacing (or is it – has replaced) hard work. We’re doomed.

    1. monday1929

      The boss probably told everyone to “take a deep breath” and remain calm. Whenever you are advised by someone in authority to take a deep breath, get the hell OUT.
      Another warning sign- when a company informs you that “our people are our main asset”- the layoffs will begin within two months.

    1. DownSouth


      The one place where I disagree with commenter Main Street Muse (see his comment up thread) is when he said: “Our regulators unfortunately have blatantly ignored that voraciously greedy behavior for decades.”

      Our regulators haven’t ignored the “voraciously greedy behavior,” they have celebrated it and rewarded it. “Voraciously greedy behvior” in the new moral order is “doing God’s work.”

  12. jake chase

    All this ‘reputation’ stuff is complete crap. What changed on Wall Street was the game itself. When the Soviets created Eurodollars and the banks and corporations enabled oil looting by the Arabs (because it was so easy to get control of all that money extracted from the workers and non-oil Third World countries), the dollar went from being a store of value to a store no value in which the idea was to grab real assets in a never ending series of transactions open only to those with access to the Fed spigot, which ceased to have any limitations whatsoever once Nixon shut the gold window. Traders naturally dominate this world, and all the bullshit about white shoe reputations was always smoke in any event. The Street was dominated by con men in the Twenties, got in bed with Nazis in the Thirties (and the Forties too, when the game was returning German assets to miraculously denazified German industrialists.) In the Fifties the stock market had about one major transaction, when the Ford heirs turned their back on Henry and went public. The major corporations were internally financed and borrowed from one another in the CP market. Only utilities raised capital in the bond market and only idiot sons of rich WASPS went into the business (where their only job was to romance other idiot sons in the bank trust departments.) In the Sixties, all the action was in mutual funds and the big money was in making markets, which was dominated by two firms of complete arrivistes. So my question is: when did these blue ribbor reputations develop and for exactly what?

  13. Susan Truxes

    Does anyone remember back in the late 80s or 90s when Liam Gleeson (Name?) was caught cleaning out Berings Bank (the bank owned by the Windsors) by playing yen deriviatives? Can’t remember if this was the “Asian Crisis” or the LTC disaster. Seems like it might have been a dry run for the debacle we are now faced with. Nobody has ever explained LTC to me. Nor has there ever been an explanation of the way Berings went down. Just that it was caused by derivatives trading gone bad. No doubt the Windsors were on the other side of that trade. It seems to have been a distinct turning point, the point of which eludes me. But my radar tells me its all related to our situation today and maybe even low level Wall Streeters are confused as rabbits over it all too.

    1. DownSouth

      Susan Truxes said: “Nobody has ever explained LTC to me.”

      I thought Yves did a good job explaining it in Econned.

      1. Susan Truxes

        I’m a newcomer. I haven’t read Econned. I think I know the flavor of it and I go on. My bad. Please give me a few brief lessons of two sentences or less. My intuition, good or bad, says that capitalism has a fatal flaw: it can not continue exponentially.

        1. Susan Truxes

          Down South: can you separate the vertical from the horizontal? That would be the parabolic from the infinitely fractaled?

        2. DownSouth

          Myron Scholes and Robert Merton, both of whom recieved Nobel prizes for their work on the Black-Scholes pricing model, were the most celebrated of the star-studded managment team at hedge-fund Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM), which famously used state-of-the-art quant techniques… It blew up spectacularly in 1998 and nearly brought down the financial system with it.

          The firm made two glaring errors. The first was not paying attention to liquidy risk, that is, the size of its positions relative to the markets it was in…


          LTCM’s second big mistake was making the same bet, in trader-speak “short vol” or volatility, in a whole range of markets that were supposedly uncorrelated.
          ▬Yves Smith, Econned

  14. Cathryn Mataga

    However badly they trash their reputation, whatever stupid or evil thing they do, they are still ‘systemically important financial institutions,’ and must be saved because, you know, they just must. Blah, blah, blah.

  15. Hugh

    “As Wall St. Firms Grow, Their Reputations Are Dying”????

    They loot us, and we are supposed to love them for it? Seriously, on what alternate plane of existence does Davidoff dwell? This is what comes from ignoring the kleptocratic nature of our economy and politics.

    Ryan Chittum’s observation is also bilge. Please rein us in? Who’s he kidding? Wall Street buys the politicians. Its lobbyists write the laws and regulations. It fills the Treasury, Fed, and regulatory agencies with its people, not to mention the Presidential advisors it provides. And it wants to be reined in? Give me a break. This is just a riff on the blame the regulators excuse that has been around for an age. It’s typical class warfare misdirection. It’s not the bank robber’s fault he robbed the bank. It’s that of the police and society for not stopping him. Besides everything he did was perfectly legal since he bought some politicians who passed a law saying it was OK for him to rob banks. So really what is the problem?

    1. DownSouth

      Bragging was the vice that was Eichmann’s undoing. It was sheer rodomontade when he told his men during the last days of the war: “I will jump into my grave laughing, because the fact that I have the death of five million Jews [or “enemies of the Reich,” as he always claimed to have said] on my conscience gives me extraordinary satisfaction.”


      Once Eichmann understood how the whole thing worked, or, rather, did not work, he “took counsel with himself” and “gave birth to the idea which I thought would do justice to both parties.” He imagined “an assembly line, at whose beginnings the first document is put, and then the other papers, and at its end the passport would have to come out as the end product.” This could be realized if all the officers concerned—-the Ministry of Finance, the income tax people, the police, the Jewish community, etc.—-were housed under the same roof and forced to do their work on the spot, in the presence of the applicant, who would no longer have to run from office to office and who, presumably, would also be spared having some humiliating chicaneries practiced on him, and certain expenses for bribes. When everything was ready and the assembly line was doing its work smoothly and quickly, Eichmann “invited” the Jewish functionaries from Berlin to inspect it. They were appalled: “This is like an automatic factory, like a flour mill connected with some bakery. At one end you put in a Jew who still has some property, a factory, or a shop, or a bank account, and he goes through the building from counter to counter, from office to office, and comes out the other end without any rights, with only a passport on which it says: ‘You must leave the country within a fortnight. Otherwise you will go to a concentration camp.’ “
      ▬Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

      1. anon2

        Eichmann: “I will jump into my grave laughing…[over]…the death of five million Jews….”

        A perfect description of the Wall Street mentality.

        As Max Keiser said: “If Goldman Sachs took Auschwitz public, they would sell shares to their friends and family and say this concentration camp is a great business.”

        Wall Street has been looting the American public for years, and for years we’ve been subjected to endless excuses on their behalf. It’s about time people saw them for the criminal scum that they are.

  16. Underpass Mattress

    Some years prior to our current Depression Ralph Nader commented on how “well run” Goldman Squid was.
    So, the lesson here is that it pays to be a little paranoid, and sometimes the ones you trust the most are the most untrustworthy. Take for example the wandering drone who goes into a retail bank (circa 2005) to talk to Joe Mortgage and is drawn around the bend, and realizes a horrible mistake a few years down coupon road. Our drone entered the Bank and had a naive assumption of trust, or responsibility: “Certainly no financial institution commits fraud or takes advantage of people, after all, the Government is supposed to protect me from such irresponsible loan sharking”

    The drone, who now has a much different opinion of Banksters, would have been much safer if he’d taken a plane flight rather then attempt to buy a 60 year old house in the ‘hood.
    Gotta count on him feeling angry. He gets screwed over so bad, 100K or more gone in a poof, just like the house. His credit is destroyed for nearly a decade, his retirement gone, little prospect of employment based on credit checks, and other wonderful never ending nightmares. Even the Justice Department, as William Black writes, can’t quite believe that bankers committed epic fraud.

  17. Miriam

    Sorry to be off-topic, but I’ve been scouring this site and the web for any way to send a direct query (in a professional capacity) to Yves and have failed to come up with anything. Can anyone help me reach her?

  18. Random Blowhard

    The corruption and lawlessness on Wall Street has become so brazen that it simply cannot be covered up anymore. Those who do “Baals work” are so far gone that only their complete and total annihilation will allow the United States to recover it’s past glory.

    Fortunately, as financial crisis occur every 5-7 years (Jamie Dimon CEO JPMorgan Chase) and the TBTF banks are now Too Big Too Save the next financial crisis will hopefully bring about their end. If not hyper inflationary collapse and civil war will.

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