In this week's National Journal magazine, Michael Hirsh writes about a reemerging Wall Street elite. Their manner has changed from the days of the bailout. Rather than asking for atonement before lawmakers, the financial elite are speaking out against the regulations and forging ahead with business in emerging markets. We take a look at the members of this resilient and unapologetic force filling today's corner offices.
James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley
Gorman was recently labeled a “dark optimist” by The Wall Street Journal. When asked how he responds to politicians who claim that traders make too much money for the social utility they provide, Gorman said, “That I kind of dismiss as political rhetoric. People who say trading activities don't have social utility don't understand the fundamentals. Is it not a good outcome for the airline industry to be able to hedge its fuel costs? The trader can help them.”
Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup
Pandit may be the exception to the rule. Unlike his peers, Pandit is showing humility rather than flexing his muscles. He told National Journal that Citigroup is "back to serving the real economy." His plan is to reach the 2.5 billion "unbanked" customers. Whether or not the financial reform will stand in the way of exploring emerging markets seems not to faze Pandit, who says "We're doing our own thing."
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase
Dimon has been regularly critical of Washington’s efforts to rein in Wall Street. In an interview with CNBC on February 20, he declared: “We have too many regulators in this country.… There are several things in Dodd-Frank we think are very counterproductive.”
Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America
Moynihan told The New York Times on March 8: "There’s a core problem that if you start to help certain people and don’t help other people, it’s going to be very hard to explain the difference," Moynihan said. Moynihan was criticizing state's attorneys who were trying to restructure underwater mortgages and propose a settlement that would cost Bank of America $25 billion.
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs
Blankfein told the Times of London last year that Goldman Sachs was “doing God’s work.” On March 24, during testimony in the insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam, he told a court that Goldman’s market-making business “is a service we do for the world.” He then changed the last two words to “our clients,” according to Bloomberg News.
National Journal's Michael Hirsh investigates the ever-widening gap between policy and banking in his book, Capital Offense: How Washington's Wise Men Turned America's Future Over to Wall Street.