In Search of the Bottom Line of the Wall Street Implosion

I have been reading a lot of opinion pages in search of the perfect insight about what’s happening on Wall Street, because it affects the world financial community and the economics of everyone globally.  This being written days after Lehman’s demise, and the morning of the AIG bailout, take-over, whatever.

John McCain and Joe Biden have both denounced Paulson’s decision re AIG. Knee-jerk reactions, and somewhat tone-deaf.

Jim Cramer says he had it right a year ago in his TV meltdown; that the worst is over, and that Paulson did the right thing because he had no choices.

Thomas Friedman calls it a bubble  and makes the case for systemic rewrite of regulations.

The Today Show led with Gordon Gekko clips—it’s all about greed.

Joe Nocera combines the bubble and greed themes and reminds us about denial—Wall Street is just Main Street, where home buyers keep hoping they can sell for more than the outrageous price they could have gotten (or, worse, bought at) two years ago. We are all Lehman.

These are all sensible–all blind men correctly sensing one part of the elephant.  But one person–I think–just flat nails it. No surprise, when you think about it—Tom Peters.

In 450 words, he cuts to all the chases. Peters is at that point in his career where his value to society is enormous. He’s seen this movie before—many times. He’s smart. He’s articulate. He’s still learning. He’s still got every one of his marbles.

And that’s what makes him wise.

His comment on greed? “Duh.”

On capitalism? “Good ideology run amok.”

On AIG? “Thank God for Paulson: it’d be worse without him.”

On hubris–he lists five deeply flawed beliefs that drove this debacle, each of them dead-on.

For a coherent view of things, just go read Tom Peters post of today.