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Watching Wall Street Watch Obama

PH2009091500243.jpgAndrew Ross Sorkin was in the audience for Obama's speech on financial regulation on Monday. But he wasn't watching the speech. He was watching the audience. They didn't like it, or at least they didn't like the important parts.

As I sat in Federal Hall in downtown Manhattan this afternoon listening to President Obama, I found myself glued less to his words than to the facial expressions and reactions of those in the audience. There was Richard D. Parsons, chairman of Citigroup; Gary D. Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs; Roger C. Altman, chief executive of Evercore Partners; Daniel Loeb, founder of the hedge fund Third Point; Peter G. Peterson, the co-founder of Blackstone Group; and James S. Chanos, the famous short-seller, among others.

These were the people Mr. Obama was really speaking to when he said, “You don’t have to wait to put the 2009 bonuses of your senior executives up for a shareholder vote. You don’t have to wait for a law to overhaul your pay system so that folks are rewarded for long-term performance instead of short-term gains.”

And it was at those words that many in the audience looked down, grimaced for a moment or took a nervous look at their BlackBerries. (I won’t “out” anyone by name, but they know who they are.)

Another line that brought some scowls: “It is neither right nor responsible after you’ve recovered with the help of your government to shirk your obligation to the goal of wider recovery, a more stable system and a more broadly shared prosperity.”[...]

Perhaps tellingly, the only time the audience seemed to unanimously nod in approval was when President Obama placed the blame of the financial crisis not just at Wall Street’s feet but at the entire nation’s.

Photo credit: By Henny Ray Abrams — Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  September 15, 2009; 4:37 PM ET
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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What a bunch of soulless greedheads. These guys think they are so special and superior, and all they are good at is fleecing the rest of the populace because they lack the decency nof ordinary human beings. They have no comprehension of how their recklessness ruined other people's lives and what's more they obviously don't care one iota. May they rot in hell every last one of them, along with the health insurance executives.

Posted by: Mimikatz | September 15, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Ross Sorkin must be kidding. What does he expect a bunch that richly deserves and half expects to be taken to the woodshed do other than grimace?

Posted by: pneogy | September 15, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

If they didn't like what they heard, that's good. Those parasites need to crawl back into their holes.

Posted by: cmpnwtr | September 16, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

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