Just as deadline was passing for my story in this week’s paper about the semi secret that nothing has changed on Wall Street since the peak of the financial crisis, I had a conversation with an executive at a major U.S. bank about the story.
I asked him about how seriously Wall Street takes the upcoming financial regulation. “It’s taken seriously only how it could impact profits, not taken seriously in how they could solve problems,” he said, meaning that it may make life on Wall Street slightly harder, but it doesn’t solve too-big-to-fail. “It’s truly stupid. The banks did okay and dodged this whole thing. But having said that, it’s not only incompetent proposals, it’s actually a negative because it’s making people think problems are fixed.”
What’s one way Wall Street has changed? “Much more concerned about public image,” he said, “and compensation is much more equity based.” This means that people on Wall Street get less cash and more stock, but he said that all that stock is now at an all-time low, so in a few years when it goes back up bankers will get yelled at again.
Any other changes? “Ahhh,” he said, and paused. “Lower key. If you raise your head up, you get swatted.”
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