QE3: Wall Street Loves The Welfare State

Bread line, NYC

Photo: Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

As the Wall Street Journal reports in “Treasurys Rally May Hit Wall At Jackson Hole If Fed Disappoints,” the markets rallied – if only temporarily – Monday, on assumptions that Ben Bernanke is, in yet another attempt to bail out the American economy, contemplating launching QE3.Strategist Andrew Wilkinson of Interactive Brokers points out (rather obviously), “‘Dealers have already determined that the world economy is so bad and the U.S. economy is so dire that nothing less than a third round of quantitative easing is in the air.'”

In short, there exists on Wall Street very real “concerns that the U.S. economy is still too fragile to stand on its own,” which in turn has “led some market participants to spend the past week generating optimism for some form of monetary support.”

Wall Street, then, it seems (via market and press reaction), is strongly advocating – for the THIRD time, mind you– that Washington play financial sugar-daddy and bail out the struggling financial sector.  After all, Wall Street whines, “It’s not our fault we’re bad with money!”

Um…isn’t it?

So…let’s make sure I understand this from Wall Street’s point of view (let it not be said I’m not empathetic to those poor victims in Manhattan): The markets (and American economy, more broadly), as we understand them, are “free.”  Purely capitalistic enterprises. Those who participate know it’s a kill-or-be-killed financial world out there. 

And, also from what I understand, Wall Street abhors government intervention in all things financial and personal. Wall Street’s motto: “Hey federal government: hands off the economy and my pocketbook!”

Recent news, however, suggests that Wall Street cannot and will not tolerate government intervention in the American economy…unless, of course, it’s being done in the name of saving banks’ sorry as$es.   Banks.  Think about that.  The very institutions that should have known better than to have to rely on the [email protected] excuse “too big to fail!” now play the “Please, Papa Bernanke, save us!” victim card. 

The very group of people (a right-leaning, “government shouldn’t exist!” crowd, if there ever was one) now demands the very federal government they wish to see destroyed bail them out from a rash of economically ignorant and financially irresponsible decisions. 

Wow.  That’s…just…wow.

You know what, as distressed investing and consulting professional, I find most interesting about all this? In 2008, the financial industry screamed bloody murder(!)  when, at the nadir of its performance and existence, America’s auto industry – that saviour and employer of the Midwest – received approximately $85B in government rescue financing.  This was an amount that when compared with the financial industry’s crutch (totaling in the trillions of dollars), is all but a rounding error.  That’s right: Wall Street was more than happy to see America’s heartland fall because “Government has no right saving the private sector!” but no amount – even $trillions – of government spending is enough to make sure those on Wall Street keep their jobs and extra homes.   

Look Wall Street, I get it: you’re secretly socialists.  You’re just SELFISH socialists who believe every part of the American economy – except yours – should be free, and ergo free to fail.  In short, you can’t manage your own industry, so you need the American (corporate) welfare state to keep you alive.

How’s this, Wall Street, from Main Street to your ears: Screw you.  You should have known better.  Your ignorance should no longer be America’s financial and federal tax problem. The next time you b*tch about government intervention, make sure you, you know, have stopped suckling the governmental teat. 

Because from where I – and most Americans – sit, you’re standing on stage made of rotting intellectual wood.

After all, don’t forget: Wall Street welfare is still just that: welfare.

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