Americans have long had an antipathy toward “government” . . . except, of course, when we need it for things like growing old, regulating child labor, rescuing the economy from plundering plutocrats, protecting clean air and water, enforcing civil rights . . . things like that. Otherwise we like to picture America being built by rugged individualists clearing the frontier and small businessmen creating jobs, while the scalawags in Washington plot to tax away their life savings.
This election is giving us that image in spades. We have a socialist president pursuing big-government policies that will enshrine inefficiency, class warfare and the herd mentality, opposed by a businessman fighting to unleash the power of the private sector and the creativity of visionary individuals.
So, I was surprised by the bank employee who told the Fed official that Barclay’s reported false interest rates because it wanted to “fit in with the rest of the crowd.”
You might think that, after wrecking the world’s economy four years ago, the big banks might at least pretend to care about the public’s trust or their clients’ welfare. But it’s hard to see a scintilla of shame, as reports in the last three days show:
- Analysts giving advance information on corporate earnings to large hedge funds.
- JP Morgan losing $2 billion in rogue trades. Oh, sorry, $3.5 billion. Well, actually, it’s closer to $6 billion. Um, would you believe $7.5?
- HSBC apologizing for money-laundering.
- Peregrine Financial unable to account for $215 million in customers’ money, going bankrupt and being charged with fraud
The brazenness of the crimes, the baldness of the lies and the pettiness of the excuses reveal a financial system out of control.
Mitt Romney, we are told, should be president because he knows how to run a business. Suddenly, that’s not particularly reassuring.