Taibbi: 'Why Wall Street Should Stop Whining'

Over at RollingStone.com, Matt Taibbi offers a response to the much-discussed Gabriel Sherman New York magazine article, "The End of Wall Street as They Knew It," which postulates that the Obama Administration and the Dodd-Frank bill are suffocating Wall Street.

Taibbi isn't buying it.

When I read things like this I’m simultaneously amazed by two things. The first is the unbelievable tone-deafness of people who would complain out loud, during a time when millions of people around the country are literally losing their homes, that their bonuses – not their total compensation, mind you, but just their cash bonuses, paid in addition to their salaries and their stock packages – are barely enough to cover the mortgage payments for their new condos, the taxis they take when walking is too burdensome, and their girlfriends with expensive tastes.

The second thing that amazes me is that Sherman is buying all this. I don’t know this reporter at all, and I’m happy to concede that he probably hangs out with more Wall Street people than I do. But I’m still in touch with plenty of people in the business, and I have yet to have any investment bankers crying on my shoulder about how the Dodd-Frank bill is forcing them into generic breakfast cereals.

Taibbi points out that Dodd-Frank doesn't even have much to do with bankers' bonuses, and notes that the Wall Street folks he's talked to recently are all far more pre-occupied with financial problems in Europe than their bonuses dipping (which they are only doing somewhat).

Furthermore, Taibbi writes, so what if bonuses drop. Wouldn't that be a good thing?

Since 2008, the rest of America has suffered a severe economic correction. Ordinary people everywhere long ago had to learn to cope with the equivalent of a lower bonus season. When the crash hit, regular people could not make up the difference through bailouts or zero-interest loans from the Fed or leveraged-up synthetic derivative schemes. They just had to deal with the fact that the economy sucked – and they adjusted.

This ought to have been true also on Wall Street, but in a curious development that is somehow not addressed in Sherman's piece, the denizens of the financial services industry managed to maintain their extravagant lifestyle standards in the middle of a historic global economic crash that, incidentally, they themselves caused.

Read Taibbi's full article here.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at February 9, 2012, 4:23am

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