Obama is Killing America by Killing Wall Street

What has become of America?

Today, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein announced record annual profits of $13.4 billion for his bank.

He has repaid the U.S. taxpayer $11.42 billion for taking TARP money he didn’t want.

He will contribute another $6.4 billion in taxes to the general public.

And within weeks, if President Obama gets his way, Blankfein has a good shot at becoming the most hated man in our nation.

Apparently, this is now how we treat success in America. We damn it, and then we punish it by enacting loopy, politically expedient measures such as caps on Wall Street trading and principal investments.

Why is our country so self-destructive?

We need people to come together, but we engage in populist divisiveness. We need millions of jobs, but we kill the incentives and destroy the capital that will create them.

Please don’t accuse me of not ‘getting it.’ I do ‘get it.’ I ‘get’ that Main Street is suffering. I ‘get’ that Wall Street is full of selfish, greedy people. I ‘ get’ that Wall Street engages in reckless trading. I ‘get’ that no bank should be too big to fail.

But does anyone actually believe the new White House war on Wall Street will remedy any of that? I know I don’t.

This war is about politics. It’s about a big election loss in Massachusetts. It’s about pushing the blame for the nation’s misery from Washington onto Wall Street.

Is President Obama talking to Tora Bora terrorists or Park Avenue bankers when he says: ‘So if these folks want a fight, it’s a fight I’m ready to have.’

Unfortunately, it’s a fight – that at least on the PR front – Washington is already winning. Just read today’s subdued Goldman Sachs earnings release.

Total profits were a ‘record’ at the bank, even if earnings per share weren’t. But you wouldn’t know that from the Goldman press release. Instead, the big PR highlight is ‘Compensation and Benefits Down By $4 billion or 20% From 2007. Lowest Annual Compensation.’

How perverse. Job creation in our economy comes from profits and growing incomes. But here is America’s best-run company almost ashamed of its profits and bragging about how much less it’s paying its people.

Make no mistake – this war will damage the nation’s psyche. Just look at today’s stock market. In fact, the war’s unforeseen consequences are just now beginning to appear .

It’s bound to get very, very messy because in fact, contrary to the President’s assertion, the 2008 collapse had little to do with the dissolution of Glass-Steagall or proprietary trading by banks.

Sure, Wall Street was way too vulnerable because it was way too leveraged.

But AIG wasn’t a bank. Neither Lehman Brothers nor Bear Stearns took consumer deposits. And the hundreds of billions in losses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – as well as the destruction of Wachovia, Washington Mutual and Countrywide had nothing to do with prop trading.

That was caused by banks lending money to millions of Americans to buy houses they couldn’t afford. You won’t hear much of that coming from Washington. After all, ‘It’s Actually Your Fault, America’ is not a good slogan for a re-election campaign.

奥巴马向华尔街宣战是在摧毁美国精神

美国这是怎么了?

上周四,高盛(Goldman Sachs)首席执行长贝兰克梵(Lloyd Blankfein)宣布该行2009年盈利134亿美元,创历史新高。

他宣布偿还美国纳税人114.2亿美元的问题资产救助计划(TARP)资金,算是还了这笔他当初就不愿拿的钱。

他还将向美国民众再纳税64亿美元。

而且,如果总统奥巴马(Obama)终于得偿所愿,那么不出几周时间,贝兰克梵就有可能成为全美最招人恨的人。

显然,成功者现在在美国就是这个待遇。我们先是开口谴责,然后再通过一些莫名其妙、政治投机的法案来对之加以惩罚,比如限制华尔街的自营交易。

我们的国家怎么会变得这么毁己不倦呢?

我们需要人们齐心协力,但我们沉迷于在民粹主义上的分歧不能自拔;我们需要数以百万的工作岗位,但我们却在扼杀激励机制、瓦解创造就业所需资本。

请不要指责我不明白怎么回事。事实上,我心如明镜。我知道普通民众正在受苦;我知道华尔街满是自私自利、贪得无厌的人;我知道华尔街交易起来不管不顾、我也知道根本不该有哪家银行大到倒不得。

但是,有没有人真的相信眼下这场白宫掀起的新战役能够解决上述任何问题?我反正是不相信。

这场斗争的实质是政治。它事关民主党在麻萨诸塞州选举的惨败;它是华盛顿在将自己应该承担的骂名转嫁给华尔街。

想想奥巴马针对阿富汗托拉博拉山区的恐怖分子说的话吧:如果他们想要打一仗,那么我已经准备好了。他对纽约公园大道(Park Avenue)上的银行家们是不是也是这个意思?

不幸的是,在这场战争(至少是公关层面的战争)中,华盛顿已经赢了。只要看看高盛今天业绩发布时那附低声下气的样子就知道了。

虽然每股收益未创纪录,但高盛全年盈利创下了历史新高。但是你从高盛的新闻稿中都看不到这一点。相反,最大的公关亮点是:该行今年的薪酬和奖金规模将比2007年减少40亿美元,降幅为20%,创年度薪酬纪录新低。

这可真不应该啊。唯有盈利和收入增长才能创造就业。但是就在我们眼前,这家美国经营最好的公司却几乎在为自己的成绩感到羞愧,并忙不迭地宣传自己少给员工发了多少钱。

要清楚知道的是:这样的斗争会毁了美国精神。看看上周四股市的表现就知道了。事实上,这场战争的后果难以预料,现在才只是开始。

最终肯定是非常、非常糟糕的,因为实际情况和奥巴马声称的恰恰相反,2008年的溃败和格拉斯•斯蒂格尔法案(Glass-Steagall)的退场以及银行自营交易毫无关系。

当然,过去的华尔街负债太多,让自己变得太过脆弱。

但是,美国国际集团(AIG)并不是银行。雷曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)和贝尔斯登(Bear Stearns)也从未吸收过储户存款。房利美(Fannie Mae)和房地美(Freddie Mac)的数千亿美元亏损、乃至美联银行(Wachovia Corp.)、华盛顿互惠银行(Washington Mutual)和Countrywide的垮台都和自营交易沾不上边。

真正的原因是银行将钱借给了上百万美国人去买他们无力负担的房产。华盛顿的官员不太会说到这一点。毕竟,“美国,一切都是你自己的错!”这句大实话总不好拿来当竞选连任的口号吧?

Evan Newmark

Advertisements