I’ll tell you about Wall Street: There’s too much greed. And the fact is, a free enterprise system is a system that’s produced the greatest wealth for the world. But you know Michael Novak, the great Catholic theologian, says that a free enterprise system that is not underlaid with values — and we should all think about the way we conduct our lives — yes, free enterprise is great, profits are great, but there have to be some values that underlay it, and they need a good ethics lesson on Wall Street on a regular basis to keep them in check so we, the people, do not lose.
The above is something that came out of the mouth of Ohio Governor and presidential hopeful John Kasich during last night's Fox Business/Wall Street Journal Republican debate in Milwaukee.
Soak it in. The tone and structure of that salvo against Wall Street is rather beautiful when viewed through the prism of red meat conservative populism. It is telling voters that Main Street will should not be victimized by Wall Street's seemingly vampiric need for more money. The government should destroy the big banks that prey on Average Joes and Janes by engaging in predatory lending and then turning their debts into toxic assets that are then traded back onto the public.
John Kasich is saying that he and his fellow GOP candidates will not stand for the kind of sh!t that went down during the dark days of 2008. America is great and Wall Street needs a spanking.
But what John Kasich neglects to mention in that lovely piece of anti-Wall Street oratory is that he was a Managing Director at Lehman Brothers when it collapsed and became the ultimate symbol of Wall Street greed.
You know, the opening question Jerry asked, would you bail out the big banks again? Nobody gave you an answer to that. I’ll give you an answer. Absolutely not.
And what we have right now is we have Washington — as government gets bigger and bigger, you know, the biggest lie in all of Washington and in all of politics is that Republicans are the party of the rich. The truth is, the rich do great with big government. They get in bed with big government. The big banks get bigger and bigger and bigger under Dodd-Frank and community banks are going out of business. And, by the way, the consequence of that is small businesses can’t get business loans, and it is that fundamental corruption that is why six of the 10 wealthiest counties in America are in and around Washington, D.C.
Those are the words of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who went on to say that he would not bail out Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) if it was swept up in another crisis.
Again, many everyday Americans who were hurt by the financial crisis love the idea that the next president wouldn't piss on Brian Moynihan even if he was rolling around in flames on the floor of the Oval Office. But those same people are either forgetting or don't know that they would be hurt again by the collapse of an enormous institution like a crumbling BofA.
And what Cruz should have answered is whether or not he'd bail out Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS). Why? Because his wife is on leave from her gig as Managing Director there, and he received his health care through the firm for many years.
But that's just two very specific examples of what could be considered to be a little debate night hypocrisy.
In defense of Kasich and Cruz, some candidates just missed the facts entirely.
Here's Carly Fiorina's hot take on the current regulatory environment.
And now what do we have with Dodd-Frank? The classic of crony capitalism. The big have gotten bigger, 1,590 community banks have gone out of business, and on top of all that, we’ve created something called the Consumer Financial Production Bureau, a vast bureaucracy with no congressional oversight that’s digging through hundreds of millions of your credit records to detect fraud.
The costs related to Dodd-Frank compliance have been objectively hard on community banks, but recent data suggests that low interest rates have been the real killer for net interest margins of smaller lenders. Also, that tragic figure of 1,590 shuttered community banks is less upsetting when one considers the FDIC (an agency that knows a little bit about bank closures) puts the number banks closed since Dodd-Frank was adopted into 2010 at 350.
Fiorina is also parsing the math when she calls the CFPB a "vast bureaucracy." Sure, at 1,443 employees the CFPB is a growing regulatory arm of the federal government, but less than one-and-a-half-thousand people is hardly "vast." Especially when you consider that the entire staff of the CFPB is merely 4.8% of the 30,000 people that Fiorina laid off from Hewlett-Packard before she was fired as CEO.
Here's JEB! on Dodd-Frank:
We’re not — we shouldn’t have another financial crisis. What we ought to do is raise the capital requirements so banks aren’t too big to fail. Dodd-Frank has actually done the opposite, totally the opposite, where banks now have higher concentration of risk in assets and the capital requirements aren’t high enough.
Yeah! Let's get those enormous motherf@cking banks by raising the capital requirements that have actually already been raised and caused massive swelling of Tier 1 capital held by all major banks under... Dodd-Frank.
Here's Marco Rubio kind of maybe addressing the income gap(?):
For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.
Considering that many philosophy majors go on to become lawyers, and that many academics in the field of philosophy can make make well over minimum wage teaching at the university level, it stands to reason that many philosophers to make more than many welders.
But hey, we all max out our credit cards one leg at a time, right Marco?
And here's President Trump talking about The Trans-Pacific Partnership:
The TPP is horrible deal. It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone. It’s 5,600 pages long. So complex that nobodies read it.
Proving his own point, The Donald clearly didn't read the TPP because China is not party to it.
And here's Ben Carson answering a question about how he would handle "Too Big to Fail":
I would have policies that wouldn’t allow that to occur. I don’t want to go in and tear anybody down. I mean, that doesn’t help us. But what does help us is stop tinkering around the edges and fix the actual problems that exist that are creating the problem in the first place.
Well... that's just nonsense.