Below is the beginning of a manifesto written by LV at InvestmentWatchBlog:
Wall Street Manifesto
by LV - InvestmentWatch
December 3rd, 2010
We, the bankers of these United States , want to assure all Americans that we are devoted, heart and soul, to the interests of this great nation. Contrary to countless disparaging remarks by so-called pundits, there is absolutely no daylight between the interests of Wall Street and Main Street . One of our leaders eloquently expressed this view when he said that we do God’s work. We labor night and day to furnish the financial resources that are needed to build this great country. We proudly carry on the great banking tradition of our forebears such as John Pierpont Morgan and Andrew Mellon. Without our munificence over the years, many great projects would never have been funded and, therefore, would have never been built. As President Calvin Coolidge succinctly put it, “the business of America is business”. It is Wall Street and the big banks that provide the lubricant in the form of capital that makes business work.
The past few years have been difficult for all of us. It is unfortunate that some misguided individuals have sought to fix the blame on us for all the troubles that currently beset our economy. Our intentions have always been honorable. Is it a crime for us to wet our beaks a little when we provide such a valuable service? Are we not entitled to our modest salaries and bonuses? Should not the taxpayers foot the bill when circumstances conspire against us through no fault of our own? Your elected representatives thought we should receive federal assistance and guarantees to get through a rough patch of road. We had the foresight to ensure that our emissaries were appointed to key posts in the government. Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner and Summers are excellent examples of our wisdom in this regard. We convinced the current president as we have convinced every president before him that it is best to leave the financial affairs of our country to professionals like ourselves. They, in turn, saw fit to appoint our recommended candidates to key positions such as Chairman of the Federal Reserve and Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. A banker is nothing if not prudent in such matters. We leave nothing to chance. We are sure you would agree that our country has been well served under the auspices of our handpicked stewards.
We value our relationship with government officials as much as we value our relationship with Main Street America. We understand that some uninformed individuals feel compelled to criticize us for all kinds of economic ills that have absolutely nothing to do with us. We are inured to such criticism. We also understand the proclivity of politicians to use us as convenient scapegoats. This is simply populist rhetoric as far as we are concerned. It is all right to let off steam as long as it does not interfere with our ability to make massive profits. We are big boys and can take the verbal abuse. What matters to us is the bottom line.
Our handling of a record number of delinquencies and foreclosures in the housing sector is a model of cooperation and forbearance. We have reached out to the community in its time of need. We have adjusted the terms of mortgages in record numbers. Yet, some ungrateful individuals vilify us for being heartless and not doing enough. To add insult to injury, the courts are taking us to task over minor glitches in mortgage documentation. These technicalities are preventing us from foreclosing and taking possession of property that rightfully belongs to us. People in default of their mortgage obligations are permitted to live their homes for a year and a half on average. In effect, deadbeats have become squatters with the assistance of the justice system. When we finally gain access to foreclosed homes, we find many of them stripped down to the floorboards. Not only is this outrageous, it is counterproductive because an economic recovery is not sustainable, or possible for that matter, until the backlog in housing inventory has cleared.
For the record, we thought that the housing market was dangerously overheated a few years ago. Nonetheless, we were encouraged or pressured, if you will, by the government to approve as many mortgages as possible. We dutifully complied. In order to meet strong demand, we bundled the mortgages into packages, which we sold to investors who could not get enough of them. We made sure those securities were rated triple A by our partners. We cannot help it if the housing market turned sour. It was a good run while it lasted. At least we had the good sense to protect ourselves by shorting the investments we sold to our customers. There are always two sides to a trade. We were just a little smarter as things turned out. We agreed that the optics were bad so we paid a fine out of petty cash to settle with the government when they filed frivolous charges against us. That is simply the cost of doing business. It was all for show. Even though we were faultless, we decided to settle the civil lawsuit because it was best for us to move on. We let the government look tough, but we do not want it to become a habit. Next time, we will not be so charitable.
Then there is financial regulation. This legislation almost spun out of control, but our lobbyists convinced elected officials to back off and water down the bill. We believe that less government regulation is best because regulation strangles innovation. The banking industry is quite capable of policing itself, contrary to what others may believe and contrary to the recent meltdown of our economy. We know we can reach out to various regulatory agencies to convince them that we are able to conduct business without the need for oppressive oversight. One only has to look at the copious benefits that accrued to the banking industry after the onerous Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999 to know that less regulation always trumps more regulation. Unfortunately, there are certain individuals who are demanding the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall because of the current economic downturn. Rest assured that this is never going to happen, if Wall Street has anything to say about it.
Read the rest of the manifesto here