The American public is becoming increasingly wise to the ways of Wall Street and Washington.
Many Americans were duped by financial practices and products emanating from Wall Street. Where was Washington? I would assess Washington’s involvement and responses in the following fashion:
1. At worst, Washington was complicit given a wide array of failed public policy programs, especially in housing. These public policies were largely ’greased’ by lobbying dollars and campaign contributions.
2. To a large extent, Washington was negligent in terms of oversight, especially on the financial regulatory front.
3. At best, Washington was naive given a general lack of understanding of markets and finance.
The American public is now responding in appropriate fashion. How so? In increasing numbers, they are choosing not to play the Wall Street game. What game is that? Active trading and investing. While the numbers of pure day traders may have increased, the American population at large is focused elsewhere. Where is that focus? On the economy at large and on their individual pocket books.
Washington’s focus on Wall Street and its selling of the market rebound as reflective of a return towards prosperity is a product that will not fly . . . try as they might. Why?
It’s the economy, stupid! Reports this morning indicate that wages will likely show the greatest decline since 1991. Even in the face of declining wages, consumers’ purchasing power is being further eroded by the continuing decline in the value of the dollar. That decline is inflationary which hurts consumers but it continues to present a very cheap funding vehicle for those who want to use the greenback to employ leverage in the markets. Who has the advantage in that process? The large banks. Do they spread that wealth in terms of increased credit and higher savings rates? Now why would they do that?
The American saver and consumer shouldered the cost of the bank bailouts in 2008. They are now shouldering the cost of the wealth transfer to the banks in 2009. While Washington would like to sell this dynamic differently, the American public gets it.
Washington will continue to sell this dynamic at its peril.