Goldman Sachs reported record profits for the quarter, and for some strange reason, a lot of people seem to be grumpy about that. Some on the right are annoyed that the government bailout appears to be working. Some on the left are annoyed that Wall Street fat cats are getting rich again, instead of being punished. (I'm referring in particular to a piece by Arianna Huffington in which she talks about her partners in misery at this news, namely the Wall Street Journal editorial page.)
I think we should all be dancing in the streets and patting ourselves on the back, that capitalism has once again been saved by timely government intervention. What was the alternative? Would it have been better if Goldman Sachs and other banks were losing money? Would we really rather go back to the situation we were in at the end of last year when credit markets were frozen, and we thought all of our financial institutions might go down the tubes? Isn't it a good thing that the Dow is headed up instead of down, and our retirement accounts are starting to replenish their losses? Shouldn't we be relieved that taxpayers are being repaid with interest for our investment?
It seems that people of all ideological predelictions are so preoccupied with wanting to punish the wrongdoers, or prove their political points, that they almost would have preferred failure to success. I thought the whole point of the actions of the Fed and the Treasury and the Congress since last September, was to avert a financial meltdown. When your ship is sinking, you first have to bail it out, get it sailing again, and then worry about repairs to prevent a similar accident in the future. In other words, we had to save Wall Street before we can reform it. We should be very pleased with our success so far.
(illustration of the Monopoly man from Hasbro Inc.)