Asher Edelman just penned a powerful endorsement of Bernie Sanders in the The Guardian titled, I’m the real-life Gordon Gekko and I support Bernie Sanders.
So who is Asher Edelman? According to the paper:
Asher Edelman is an art collector and financier. He worked on Wall Street from 1962 to 1988 and taught a course at Columbia University School of Business titled Corporate Raiding: The Art of War. He is one of the inspirations for the Gordon Gekko character in the film Wall Street.
Now here’s some of what he wrote regarding the state of the U.S. economy and the 2016 presidential election:
Banking is the least understood, and possibly most lethal, of all the myriad issues at stake in this election. No candidate other than Bernie Sanders is capable of taking the steps necessary to protect the American people from a repeat of the recent debacle that plunged the nation into a recession from which we have not recovered.
The potential for a depression looms heavily on the horizon. As a trained economist who has spent more than 20 years on Wall Street – and one of the models for Gordon Gekko’s character – I know the financial system is in urgent need of regulation and responsibility. Yet Hillary Clinton is beholden to the banks for their largesse in funding her campaign and lining her pockets. The likelihood of any Republican candidate taking on this key issue is not even worthy of discussion.
The recession of 2007-2016, and the persistent transfer of wealth from the 80% to the 1% is, mostly the result of banking irresponsibility precipitated by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. The law separated commercial banking (responsible for gathering and conservatively lending out funds) from investment banking (more speculative activities).
Remarkably, today the derivatives positions held by the large banks approach 10 times those of 2007-2008. In four banks alone, they exceed the GDP of the entire world. This is the interesting consequence when unchecked risk management rests in bankers’ hands.
Wait, there’s more. After the collapse of 2008, the Federal Reserve invested more than $15tn to save the banks under the guise of monetary stimulation. At the same time, little or no funds were channeled to the needs of the American people. Yet today we face another crisis of liquidity. This time Europe will break first, followed by their highly leveraged US colleagues. Meanwhile, the bottom 80% of Americans remain mired in a recession, having seen no increase in their incomes during the last 20 years.
Poverty is at its highest level since the 1930s (in some areas of the country, higher). More than 30% of all children live with families subsisting below the poverty level. Employment is at a new all-time low (the percentage of employed persons is at about 49%, having been at more than 52% prior to 2008).
Dodd-Frank provides the necessary structure with which to begin. Enforce it. Put teeth into bank regulation. Determine the acceptable level of risk at which banks can operate. Make management, not underlings or stockholders, responsible for violating the law. Encourage the Justice Department to be clear in seeking appropriate penalties for financial crimes in large institutions, not by fines alone but by the prosecution of those executives responsible.
Split up the banks that are speculating with depositor and government funds. Investment banks are supposed to risk investors’ money but commercial banks should return to lending fairly and carefully to help create a foundation for future growth. Bernie Sanders is the only independent candidate who escapes the malaise of being bought. He is paid for by the people and represents their interests. And you can take that to the bank.
Despite my reservations regarding Senator Sanders on certain issues, one thing is perfectly clear. He’s the only one running who genuinely wants to reign in the out of control financial services sector, and the only one who will aggressively prosecute bank executives. To me, this isn’t a side issue, and I agree with Mr. Edelson when he says:
Banking is the least understood, and possibly most lethal, of all the myriad issues at stake in this election.