By Ben Cohen
While I have bashed Obama for his acquiescence to the banking industry, his recent interview for the NY Times Magazine provides hope that he does understand why we can never go back to the system we had before. While I still don't believe the Obama Administration is doing the right thing - it would appear that it is looking in the right direction in terms of building a new, sustainable economy. Here he is on how we will make adjustments to the new reality:
We will miss it in the sense that as a consequence of 25-year-olds
getting million-dollar bonuses, they were willing to pay $100 for a
steak dinner and that waiter was getting the kinds of tips that would
make a college professor envious. And so some of the dynamic of the
financial sector will have some trickle-down effects, particularly in a
place like Manhattan.
But I actually think that there was
always an unsustainable feel about what had happened on Wall Street
over the last 10, 15 years, and it’s not that different from the
unsustainable nature of what was happening during the dot-com boom,
where people in Silicon Valley could make enormous sums of money, even
though what they were peddling never really had any signs it would ever
make a profit.
That doesn’t mean, though, that Silicon Valley is
still not a huge, critical, important part of our economy, and Wall
Street will remain a big, important part of our economy, just as it was
in the ’70s and the ’80s. It just won’t be half of our economy. And
that means that more talent, more resources will be going to other
sectors of the economy. And I actually think that’s healthy. We don’t
want every single college grad with mathematical aptitude to become a
trader. We want some of them to go into engineering, and we want some of them to be going into computer design.
As always with Obama, when you see his words on paper (or screen), it is easier to understand how bright this guy is. While I don't whole heartedly agree with his world view, his demonstrable understanding of very complex issues gives me great confidence that he has at least considered many different poins of view and bears them in mind when making decisions. His vision of a diversified economy is clearly the way forward, and he is right to de-emphasize the importance of the banking industry. It's just a shame he's given so much to them and asked for so little in return.