A Defense of Wall Street

What is Wall Street, anyway? I would be willing to bet that 90% of the protesters from Occupy Wall Street and of self-styled liberals have absolutely no idea what Wall Street is, what it does, and how important it is.

If not for Wall Street, there wouldn’t be any Main Street, certainly not as we know it today.

In order for any business to be successful, it must run on capital. Capital can be funded by an owner’s personal investment or through funds from outside investors. The ability to grow from the Mom and Pop store to the bigger corporation model is dependent upon the business owner’s ability to get risk capital.

This risk capital is necessary to rent the space, hire the employees, grow the inventory,and buy the equipment to get the business going. There is no guarantee that this money could ever be paid back. But the investors are willing to risk their hard-earned money in the hope that the venture is successful enough to 1) repay the money borrowed and 2) to give back a reasonable profit for the risk taken.

So where does that money typically come, that risk capital? Wall Street. Look around the house at what you have. Your lights? From the utility company. Where did that capital come from to build the utility plants, to lay the distribution networks, to expand them? Risk capital. Wall Street. Where did Macy’s get its start? Or Google, or IBM? Or any of the energy, pharmaceutical, or chemical companies? Or virtually any large corporation you can think of today — where did it get its funds to really get going and continue to grow? Wall Street.

And the people on Wall Street, people sometimes described (invariably by clueless politicians and populists who know nothing about what it takes to run a business or create jobs) as paper-pushers who make unconscionable amounts of money, what do they do?

They must be able to analyze how businesses (Main Street) work, and which ones (out of the many thousands out there all claiming to be worthy) are likely to be successful. They must develop the confidence of potential investors, and convince them to invest in these projects. They must bring the companies and investors together to agree on how much of the company the investors would get for the amount of capital that is being invested. Should the money invested be equity (ownership in the company) or bonds (loans to the company), and if bonds, what interest rate? Most importantly, more than in any other business, pay day never comes to Wall Street unless the capital is successfully raised. And if Main Street is not successful with its new capital, good luck for that Wall Street company in trying to raise money for its next project.

There have been abuses on Wall street, certainly. But there is absolutely no reason to believe that there are any more abuses than in any other business. And those abuses almost always are paid for with serious financial pain to those companies.

But none of these abuses can compare with the financial abuses and mismanagement that we endure daily from our government. Our government has us at the brink of bankruptcy, with a $17 trillion dollar debt (more than 100% of our GDP) which balloons to more than $100 trillion if our entitlement obligations are included.

We have President Obama and the Democratic leaders of the Senate (Harry Reid) and the House (Nancy Pelosi) saying that this is not a current problem (obviously not the truth) and spending money they don’t have to get votes for the next election. A short trip through YouTube (circa 2004-2005) clearly show that Barney Frank (Democratic House…), Chris Dodd (Democratic Senate ….) and Maxine Waters (Democratic House ….), among other Democrats, were principally responsible for the recent economic meltdown. The videos of Congressional Hearings demonstrate unquestionably that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were cooking their own books and lending to dangerously unqualified borrowers, but the Democrats prevented any remedial action to be taken.

And taxpayers and Main Street have borne the heavy burden of their negligence during this sluggish, anemic economic recovery.

Wall Street is an invisible backbone of our economy — providing the money and investments that are necessary to continue America’s upward mobility in all facets of our lives. Focusing only on trumped up Wall Street problems or buying into the class warfare hatred of the rich is misguided — especially while giving our government a free pass to use and abuse our taxpayer money each day.