No. of Recommendations: 86
As some of you realize by now my thought process can work in mysterious ways. As usual, I see the Goldman Sachs fraud caper in a different light than many other investors and certainly different than the pundits and media will in the days to come.

So what is so unusual that I see? I see hope. I see hope that our justice system may still have a crack of light shining through the seams of heavy curtains made of political shenanigans. Hope that just because the government is chock full of former Goldman Sachs executives at the top echelons of government finance positions doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be no justice, no reparation for all the damage that the super-banks have caused so many individuals, my country and the world we all live in.

I’m not so optimistic that I would bet the people in charge at GS will not simply get their wrists slapped. But I still have hope that somewhere in our modern society is room for a little bit of even-handed justice, not just justice that a person or an institution can afford to buy.

If this continues the markets will dip. Ouch. But that's ok with me and I don't say that lightly. I think we either face up to these problems now, or we let it roll over until the interest on solutions will be so expensive that we collectively sigh and decide to move on, waiting for the next economic tsunami to come over the horizon. But perhaps in the long run getting all the sins that brought us to this point in history can’t be all bad. Maybe it would even promote a healthier atmosphere for investing! Wow, who’d o’ thought?

I see UBS shareholders bit the bullet yesterday, telling their Board of Thieves, oops, I mean Board of Directors to go to hell when they asked shareholders to vote to shield corporate officers and former officers from any claims of malfeasance for their acts leading up to the current worldwide economic turmoil. Massachusetts voters told their shoo-in incumbent adios. Maybe this is the start of a real trend? One can only hope.

Like many of my contemporaries I am fascinated by new information, new technologies and new ideas. But when it comes to banking I must admit I am as old-fashioned as can be. I want my banks to be banks, to protect my money, to lend it to others to a reasonable profit and to make all effort possible beforehand to insure that the risk of being repaid for those loans is minimal. The world sometimes seems to turn on credit cards. Fine, so be it. I want my bank to issue credit cards to good risk candidates only, and for reasonable interest rates. I won’t pretend to have enough insight to choose an interest rate that is reasonable, but I also trust that most of us who are not super-bank executives can agree that 20-30% interest rates on credit cards is usurious to the extreme. I want my bank to make available other conveniences of course and again for reasonable fees. Money orders. Foreign currency exchanges. Home equity loans, short-term notes for emergencies, a credit line for worthy clients. I want these and a few other basic economic conveniences and yes I want them at … you guessed it …. reasonable prices.

Yes, of course I want my bank to be able to do commercial lending, to participate in buying and selling of companies private and public, and generally facilitating commerce for personal and commercial interests. I want them to do so with a good and fair understanding of their risk/reward parameters before committing to any of these transactions. I want them to be profitable, but not 50% of the GDP.

That’s about the end of my wants for “my” bank. I don’t want them buying swaps that they will secretly short as soon as their customer leaves the building. I don’t want them buying and selling CDOs that they don’t believe in enough to buy for themselves. In short, I don’t want them doing much of anything else that isn’t on my wish list.

Is all this too much to ask? It seems simple to me. It seems like this would be a bank that I could have a consumer or business relationship with, maybe even own a couple of shares in. I realize that it wouldn’t be as profitable as the super-banks claim to have been in the last decade but it’s my strong contention that my bank wouldn’t be built on a foundation of C4 waiting for detonation either.

All this hoopla over the banks that add so much to our economy, the same ones that were closing in on becoming half of our GDP. It all makes me laugh because of course I see it differently. I see banking as a very simple service, not much different than a corner barbershop on steroids with a much better security system and frankly, not taking a whole lot more intellectual power than that of a head barber. How can a bank, performing financial transactions for its clients, add much to our GDP, other than the (reasonable—is that the deal killer?) salaries of its employees, some computers, some desks, etc., etc.? It’s so easy to forget that whatever profits they take in, were taken from some working individual or some profitable company that could have spent that money to build something. Something real. Something that will last, that will have value, and that people actually want or need.

I can hear it now. Some will liken the SECs latest actions as a witch hunt (and some much worse.)

But I say, “Bring it on! More!” I wonder if I am a minority of one. Maybe it doesn’t matter. This SEC action isn’t just today’s news to be forgotten, at least to me. I hope I’ve explained to a small extent why it actually gives me a ray of hope in an economy, a government and a society that all need hope desperately.

This could be the start of something huge, a lifetime game changer if you will. At best it’s only a start. But at worst .... well, at worst it's still that—a start.

Dan
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