A recent article by Lauren LaCompra, writing for Reuters, noted that some of Wall Street and banking’s most talented players are leaving the world of finance and fleeing to Silicon Valley or hedge and private equity funds. The reason given is not solely because of the scandals and bad press, but also because of the “new regulations that have curbed some previously free-wheeling ways.” (“Wall Street executives fret about talent drain,” by Lauren Tara LaCapra, Reuters reprint found on Yahoo news, 1/1213).
Paul Volker, former U. S. Federal Reserve chairman, isn’t shedding a tear over the loss. He argued for years that innovation has little place in the financial sector and having more conservative bankers and fewer heavy risk takers running Wall Street will reduce the chances of another blow-up like the last financial crisis. (Ibid)
LaCapara’s article is timely because there’s a new biography out on Volker, The Triumph of Persistence by William L. Silber. In it the author recounts some of Volker’s most courageous acts during his financial career, citing, for example, his role in taking US currency off the gold standard. Largely, however, he is credited for fighting inflation throughout the 1970 – 1980s, holding to a clear, firm policy of belt tightening. To say that he took his lumps for his policy is an understatement. Certainly, he raised the ire of the banking industry when he argued that because these institutions are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, tax payer money, these institutions should be barred from using that security to raise cheap capital for speculative purposes. Too bad nobody listened.
Volker’s biographer paints the picture of the sort of man who should be on Wall Street and in banking. He’s a man who remembers the day when financial institutions worried more about their reputations than their bonuses.
(Courtesy of Amazon.com)