Stanley Bing

Still Dancin' in the Street

By Stanley Bing

(Fortune) -- As the clouds of incipient reform coalesce around us, today we line up behind Team Lloyd and strap on our best pinstripe and chrome dome. The future of unseemly wealth is at stake. We have partied hard and awakened to some bad mornings after. But no ugly mother in a cheap Washington suit is going to crimp our style without a fight.

The nation stands as one behind us. Sure, we're kinda unpopular now, but America's not going to like it if the party really stops. Because in the end? Everybody wants to be rich. You want to give that up? We don't think so. That's why we're gonna fight for our right, and yours, to party.

Regulate us, sure. Regulate away. Nobody's against regulation. But let's be reasonable.

For instance, nothing will be gained by limiting our ability to bet against our own products. That's the way things work, you know. There are two schools of thought on any investment. We want to represent both. We're aware there are ethical issues. You will note that on page 187 of our offering release on the Beluga Fund, for instance, there is a disclaimer in Footnote viii informing careful readers of the various interlocking derivative nucleotides we have in motion on this. Perhaps it could have been larger. We'll do that next time. But don't mess with our right to hedge. If we can't hedge, an enormous leg of our industry will be ripped from its socket and the giant will topple over. You want to see the market at 3000 again? We know you don't.

We also have to be free to take huge risks with other people's money. Many of those dollars reside in the cash the little people of the world save up as an umbrella for a rainy day. But if we can't use those piles of money, what would we do? Use our own? Be serious. Our own money we have stashed in insured triple-tax-free municipal bonds. It's your money that needs to be at a very high level of risk if we're going to return the profits that you demand. And we're all about you. You're the customer. You rule.

That's why we must, absolutely, retain our right to build new, inventive houses of cards that tower above the puny little instruments built by prior generations. To do so, our financial institutions have to be free. As free as the wind blows. As free as the grass grows. Born free to follow the opportunities that can be realized only when banks are also brokerages, brokerages are also lenders, lenders are also capable of doing everything but your windows. That gives us the ability to see the cards about to fall before other people do and to profit from it. Personally. Even if you don't.

Which, by the way, is why we're not going to let Washington get in the way of our compensation. We need the best and the brightest onboard to make sure all goes well, and if it doesn't, well, then we need them even more. I guess if you bail us out, we'd be willing to take a small haircut that year. Who said we weren't flexible? Speaking of bailouts, we don't want any limit on those either. It's nice to know the government is there when we need it, but not when we don't. Try eliminating bailouts and see what happens to your portfolio the day that bill passes.

Also, in the future we want to get back to lending money to people who don't deserve it. Not right now. We want everybody to forget what happened the past couple of years. But soon. You want that too, don't you? Sure you do. Admit it. You certainly don't want any Beltway bureaucrat stopping you from buying that million-dollar home if you can swing it someday.

And finally, we want to charge people to borrow money while paying nothing to borrow it ourselves. That is the foundation of our recovery. Don't mess with that.

Oh, and leave our credit card operations alone.

Beyond that, we're open to any good financial reform you have in mind. Go ahead. We're listening. But speak up. The music is getting kind of loud again, and sometimes you just got to dance.  To top of page

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