Masters of the Universe Return to Earth

Gabriel Sherman has a long, anecdote-rich piece at New York magazine detailing the “existential crisis” that has hit Wall Street since the financial collapse, the public backlash against banks and investment firms, and the introduction of new rules aimed at preventing anything like another housing bubble. Giant bonuses are rapidly declining, hedge funds are mostly battling over a fixed amount of money, whiz kids are beginning to look to Silicon Valley or elsewhere to make their fortunes, and in general, it looks like the end of an era that increasingly looks insane if not evil.

If Sherman is correct in attributing a lot of the psychological changes on Wall Street to the much-derided Dodd-Frank reforms, it would appear the odds of a return to the good old days on Wall Street would heavily depend on the election of a Republican president and congressional majority this November hell-bent on repealing Dodd-Frank. Even as the former Masters of the Universe tell Sherman they are engaging in “soul-searching” over their role in the credit bubbles of the last few decades, it hasn’t quite sunk in among Republican pols that whatever its complicity in encouraging bad behavior on Wall Street, government was not the problem and liberating the banks and the speculators is not the answer.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.