Call it crony capitalism. The titans of Wall Street and the patricians in Washington help each other achieve their goals. Wall Street firms want to maximize revenue and executive bonuses. Politicians want stay in power for as long as possible. The common denominator is Wall Street money.
What can we say about politicians that you do not already know? They sell their votes for money that keeps them in office. One of their biggest sources of money is Wall Street that spends more than $300 million per year on lobbyists who make sure regulations favor Wall Street and not investors.
The money is well-spent. Wall Street is a hugely profitable industry.
Wall Street money also buys impunity for executives who make decisions to rip-off investors. A Wall Street executive can make decisions that would be criminal acts in other industries knowing they will never be prosecuted for their crimes. This would not be possible without the collusion of politicians who are paid big money to look the other way.
This comprehensive legislation was passed in 2010 to fix a broken financial service industry that almost brought down the U.S. economy in 2008. Many of its provisions are designed to protect investors. Unfortunately, less than half of its regulations have ever been implemented. Wall Street lawyers and lobbyists have used three tactics to:
- Delay regulations as long as possible
- Water-down regulations to minimize their impact
- Create as many loopholes as possible
License to Steal
Politicians created the "Too Big To Fail" designation to protect big Wall Street banks that created the financial crises that peaked in 2008 and benefitted from more than one trillion dollars of bailout money. Banks that were big enough to receive the TBTF label were not held accountable for the damage they did to investors and the global economy.
Fines Without Guilt
The most egregious political practice is allowing Wall Street executives to commit crimes and letting their companies pay fines without admitting guilt or wrongdoing. History shows the fines have not been deterrents. They are nothing more than a cost of doing business for unethical Wall Street firms that are unfortunate enough to get caught cheating investors.
Wall Street thrives on people who leave their assets at firms that have abused investors. Washington thirves on voters who ignore the facts and allow corrupt politicians to stay in office. Wall Street and Washington are the big winners. Investors and voters are the big losers.