“Even Some Senior Wall Street Executives Acknowledge the Lack of [Regulatory] Change Surprises Them, Given How Poorly the Industry Performed”

In an article showing that the Obama administration hasn’t brought any real change to the financial industry, the New York Times quotes insiders who themselves are surprised by the lack of change:

But even some senior Wall Street executives acknowledge the lack of change surprises them, given how poorly the industry performed last fall and the degree of government support necessary to keep it from collapsing.

“There was a general feeling that an enormous amount of additional regulation should be put in place to prevent what happened that weekend from happening again,” said Byron Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Services and the former chief investment strategist for Morgan Stanley and Pequot Capital. “So far, we haven’t seen a lot of action.”

Robert J. Shiller, the Yale University economics professor who predicted the dot-com crash and the housing bust, said the window for change may be closing. “People will accept change at a time of crisis, but we haven’t managed to do much, and maybe complacency is coming back,” Professor Shiller said. “We seem to be losing momentum.”

Kenneth C. Griffin, founder and chief executive of the Citadel Investment Group, a Chicago-based hedge fund that manages $13 billion, said that regulators and lawmakers needed to impose rules so failing banks could be shut, rather than allowed to operate indefinitely with taxpayer support.

“We’ve taken a lot of steps for the worse, and not for the better, in terms of the structural underpinnings of our capital markets,” Mr. Griffin said. “We have to change the rules and correct the fundamental flaws in the financial system.”

When the companies themselves are surprised that the regulators aren’t getting tougher, there is something seriously wrong with the picture.


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