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Response to Demeter (Reply #41)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 07:31 AM

42. COMMENT FROM DELONG'S POST

 

Noah Smith said...

My explanation:

It's all about the bond market.

First of all, the bond market dwarfs the stock market in size. Wall Street firms thus make most of their money from the bond market.

Second of all, Wall Street firms have far more power in the illiquid, opaque, highly complex bond market than they do in the liquid, transparent, simple stock market. Who needs Goldman Sachs to buy equities? All you need is e*Trade.

Third and finally, the bond market depended heavily on fraud/opacity (basically, on tricking people) and on favorable tax treatment during the finance-industry super-boom of the last few decades. New regulation will curb the former and the closing of loopholes may curb the latter. This will leave the U.S. finance industry with very few sources of excess profit indeed.

In other words, simply enforcing reasonable rules will force our finance industry to go back to researching companies and facilitating M&A - pedestrian, low-margin activities that are socially useful but for which they will only be paid as well as software engineers or doctors. What they want is the glory days back - the days when the bond market was a giant cash transfer machine that sucked money out of the rest of the developed world and put it into the pockets of Wall Street employees. But for that to continue, even in some diminished form, would require a government that bent over backward to give the finance industry every regulatory waiver and tax break possible.

In other words, the finance industry hates Obama because he refuses to continue burning America's furniture to keep their bond-market party going.

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