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Friday, November 17, 2017

Obama Standing Up to Wall St.: Fact or Fiction?

From the time of the Obama Administration, a major newspaper concluded: “What haunts the Obama administration is what still haunts the country: the stunning lack of accountability for the greed and misdeeds that brought America to its gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression. There has been no legal, moral, or financial reckoning for the most powerful wrongdoers. Nor have there been meaningful reforms that might prevent a repeat catastrophe. Time may heal most wounds, but not these.”

For analysis, see "Obama Standing Up to Wall Street: Fact or Fiction?"

The Tail Wagging the Dog: Congress under the Influence

Congress may be like a drunk, unaware that it is being handed one drink after another by vested interests oriented to legislation with specific financial objectives. On February 28, 2010 on CNN’s State of the Union, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker at the time of the U.S. House of Representatives, said that the health insurance companies didn’t want a government-financed and operated "public option" for American citizens, so it was off the table. Her statement resonates with the earlier one by U.S. Senator Richard Durbin just after his forclosure-assistance amendment failed: "The banking lobby owns Congress." That the health insurance companies and Wall Street banks were generally viewed as at least partially culpable even as they still had Congress in their pockets points to a serious corruption in American government.

The full essay is at "Congress Under the Influence." 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Occupying Wall Street: A Self-Regulated Protest?

The right to protest as a manifestation of freedom of speech is held societally as sacred the United States, but the question of how far protest goes before it becomes simply living in a park is one of those gray areas that tend to be decided by the judiciary far from the tarps and sleeping bags. The protesters’ premise that living in a public space eventuates in the achievement of their goals is tenuous where the goals are broad. Undergoing a hunger strike to get a certain anti-corruption bill voted on by India’s parliament is far different than camping out in Zuccotti Park in New York City until corporate capitalism is ended in the U.S. In short, the tactics used should be oriented to the sort of objective being sought. Moreover, the tactics and indeed the objectives themselves require a protest group to self-police such that it does not wander too far off course or spread itself too thin. Protest movements may be too prone to die a slow death from self-inflicted wounds without even the slightest recognition of the cause of death. The Occupy Wall Street protest movement had the capacity to self-regulate, but fell well short of that which was necessary for the group to achieve its anti-corporate goals.

The full essay is at "Occupy Wall Street Protests." 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Client-Centered Ethical Leadership: A Recipe for Trust at Goldman Sachs

With its incentive-structure that rewards a quick profit on the next trade even at the expense of advising clients in line with their long-term interests, Wall Street has its work cut out for itself even in maintaining trust, which, after all, is the basis of a market. On March 15, 2012, the New York Times reported that over all, “the percentage of people who have little or no faith in the fairness of investment companies rose to 41 percent in 2011 from 26 percent in 2008, according to Yankelovich Monitor 2011.” Even banks and insurance companies fared better, and household income played no role in the findings. At the time, Goldman Sachs was doing its industry no favors in terms of reputation. Indeed, the “best and the brightest” on Wall Street had created or enabled a rather narrow and self-serving corporate culture and a lack of ethical leadership that could otherwise turn around the bank by transforming its dysfunctional culture.

The full essay is at "Client-Centered Ethical Leadership."

Getting the Seasons Officially Wrong: A Case of a Category-Mistake

Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post has not quite turned the corner with respect to spring, and the seasons in general. You see, “season” is used in two distinct though related ways in English. It can refer to four distinct weather/plant-life conditions or to the four parts of the earth’s orbit around the sun. Given the tilt of the Earth, the two are related but they do not occur together. While Achenbach acknowledges that the vernal equinox typically on March 21st “is a moment of time specified by the motion of the Earth around the sun,” he refers to this as the official start of the meteorological spring. In actuality it is not. In the Northern Hemisphere, meteorologists record data from December, January and February as winter and March, April and May as spring. So in March 2012, meteorologists could already conclude that the preceding winter had been the fourth warmest since the record-keeping began.

The full essay is at "Confusing the Seasons."