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January 16, 2014

How Washington beat Wall Street

In 2009, Washington went to war against big Wall Street banks hoping to blow up the kind of high-risk, high-reward strategies that helped spark the financial crisis. Five years later, that war is largely over. And Washington won in a blowout.

You might not know it given continued demands from Democrats — and even some Republicans — to further bust up the nation’s largest banks. And the standard media refrain is that Wall Street titans always win, no big bank bosses went to jail and the industry will just find new ways to keep the casino open.

But the truth on the ground — at least at this moment in time — is very different.

 

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The transformation of Wall Street is so complete that even some of the industry’s loudest critics — rarely willing to give an inch — are prepared to declare at least partial victory, albeit with plenty of “time will tell” caveats and complaints about the industry pushing to underfund its regulators in the latest spending bill working its way through Congress.

“’There is no question that many of the highest-risk activities, which happened to be the most profitable activities for Wall Street, are now at least reduced and often totally gone,’ said Dennis Kelleher, chief executive of Better Markets, one of the most vocal pro-regulatory reform groups. ‘They’ve had to exit hedge funds and private equity funds and they sold off any business with ‘proprietary trading’ on the door.’

 

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Read full Politico Pro article here (subscription required)

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