Wall Street to Obama: Hands off!

obama_v_wallst.gi.top.jpgPresident Obama, speaking in lower Manhattan, made his case for Wall Street reform. By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Misguided. Unworkable. Hypocritical.

Wall Street was unimpressed by President Obama's argument for financial reform on Thursday. The reaction of nearly a dozen financial industry workers ranged from skepticism to animosity.

"It doesn't seem necessary for him to come down here," said Frank Clemente, a stock broker. "It's all political, not any real reform."

Clemente was particularly annoyed that Obama criticized the financial industry after having accepted political contributions from Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) employees during his presidential campaign.

"He took their money before, so it's kind of hypocritical to attack them now," he said.

Obama spoke at Cooper Union in lower Manhattan, a short distance from the New York Stock Exchange. In his midday speech, the president said the economic downturn that has cost the nation 8 million jobs is a clear sign for the need to reform the finance industry.

Brett Smiley, a client manager at a company called 7city Learning that trains workers in the financial industry, was one of the few Wall Streeters who told CNNMoney.com he was glad Obama was "giving some sort of active interest towards coming up with a solution" to the financial crisis.

But he agreed with his peers that the president should keep his hands off executive bonuses. "The big corporations should be able to rule their companies as they see fit," he said.

Taz Basran, a lawyer in the financial district, said he was getting tired of Obama and other politicians "using Wall Street as a scapegoat."

"I think he needs to focus on more important issues of the U.S. economy, which is to bring employment back, to bring greater stability," he said. "Looking at executive pay on Wall Street is not going to solve his problems."

In his speech, the president called for tighter regulations, stressing that the notion of a free market had been taken too far.

"I believe in the power of the free market, but a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it," said Obama.

But on Wall Street, it was hard to find anyone who agreed with Obama's calling for tighter regulations.

"My big concern is the over-regulation of an already regulated industry," said Bill McCoach, who works for Quaker Funds, a mutual fund company. "Even in an industry that could use a little more scrutiny, it still can be overdone."

Finance workers who spoke to CNNMoney.com agreed that transparency is necessary to avoid another market meltdown, but they didn't see much more that the president could do to improve the current finance industry safeguards.

"On paper, it's a great idea," said McCoach. "Who isn't for more transparency so we can avoid what occurred? But can it be done and how will it be done?" To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,265.99 109.14 0.64%
Nasdaq 4,593.43 31.24 0.68%
S&P 500 2,011.36 9.79 0.49%
Treasuries 2.63 0.03 1.12%
Data as of 10:11pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.04 0.27 1.61%
Yahoo! Inc 42.08 -0.50 -1.19%
Apple Inc 101.79 0.21 0.21%
Microsoft Corp 46.68 0.16 0.34%
General Electric Co 26.21 0.16 0.61%
Data as of 4:04pm ET

Sections

Alibaba officially secured its place in history as the largest U.S.-listed IPO of all time. The company will be worth $168 billion. More

The Federal Reserve is probably not going to raise interest rates until the summer of 2015 at the earliest. More

Immigrant entrepreneurs leverage connections abroad to boost international exports -- and non-immigrants could stand to learn from their tactics. More

A 10,000 square-foot home doesn't take care of itself, and many of the uber wealthy families who own them don't want to tend to them either. So they hire people like Bryan Peele. Here are journal entries from a day in his life. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.