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11 May, 2010 21:44

Wall Street defends itself

New York bankers and money managers have been made out to be the greatest evil force in the United States, but the believe they are only doing their jobs.

 “I am proud to work on Wall Street,” said a New Yorker who works in finance. “Most of the people who work on Wall Street are perfectly honest and people of integrity.”

Since the financial crisis in America began, however, this is far from what the public has been led to believe about Wall Street.

“There’s just a myriad of problems associated with the roles these investment banking firms took and it almost brought down our economy,” said U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill outside of a Goldman Sachs hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC

“They got away with it and got bonuses to boot!” added a protestor.

But what do the guys who actually work in the financial trenches have to say for themselves?

“People think Wall Street is unfairly being demonized by the politicians and by the people at large because Wall Street is a fall guy,” said a New Yorker who works in financial markets but preferred to remain anonymous. “It’s a topic of water cooler conversation.”

But the financial center of the country rarely takes to the airwaves to defend itself.  Outside the Stock Exchange on Wall Street, where, ironically, most of the investment banks aren’t based there, people from financial firms are a little camera shy.

When asked if they think Wall Street’s being unfairly blamed for the financial crisis, or if Wall Street is concerned about bank reform, or why people on Wall Street won’t defend themselves, the answer is a resounding: “No comment.”

Around Madison Avenue, however, where commercial real estate is so exclusive it buys the sidewalk, our cameras were quickly escorted away by security guards. But on the the way from unmarked buildings, to the luxury cars parked outside, people were willing to talk about the Goldman Sachs civil charges, even if they didn't want to be identified.

“People in the inside think it is perfectly legitimate and legal what was done [by Goldman],” said an un-named finance guy.

“It’s a business just like any other that can only offer products if there’s a demand there,” said a banker.

“I don’t see any real change coming,” said a man who works in corporate access. “They always find a way around it somehow.”

Will the public ever see things from Wall Street’s point-of-view?

“Was Wall Street given credit when everyone was making a lot of money a few years ago?” asked a man walking out of the New York Stock Exchange.

“There’s a lot of blame to go around – the regulators, the people couldn’t afford their mortgages,” said a man in finance.