In a CNN/Opinion Research poll, 74% of those surveyed said they think Madoff’s behaviour is common among financial advisors and institutions. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Madoff operated a $50 billion Ponzi scheme – the largest in history – that cost some of the world’s largest financial firms, charitable foundations and individual investors hundreds of millions of dollars each.
Of the more than 1,000 American surveyed from Dec. 19-21, 59% said the government regulates the stock market and financial institutions too loosely. Just 22% said government regulation is too tight, while 18% said the government’s current market oversight is exactly right.
We think these things go in waves and that eventually it will turn around again. Despite the fact that the government has done more and more to regulate finance post-Enron, none of it has helped. Right now the desire is for us to do even more. But the clock will tick in the other direction.
As for shredding any goodwill the financial world may have had with the people, we also think it may have a profound effect on the level of trust among peers. When we worked for a small asset manager, we grew largely via word of mouth on the strength of our reputation… just like Madoff. Now when you hear that everyone in your family, at your country club, at your school relies on a specific individual or firm, what will that mean to you? Every last one of them might be dupes.