Paulson: Thumbs Up or Down ? (Forbes Intelligent Investing Panel)

July 27, 2009

Henry Paulson admitted that he pressured Bank of America to acquire Merrill Lynch, but more forced mergers are unlikely.

  • Greg Ghodsi, Senior Vice President at Raymond James & Associates' 360 Wealth Management Group;

  • Sacha Millstone,  Senior Vice President with Raymond James & Associates' Millstone Evans Group; and

  • Bill Singer, Shareholder in the Securities Practice Group of the law firm Stark & Stark and Publisher of and

    Singer: Frankly, we are a long, long, long, way from "more government oversight of firms." Seems to me that there is lots of talking going on and lots of proposals but very little in the way of lawmaking or substantive reform. Veteran Wall Streeters know the score: We've been through these so-called reform efforts before--after the 1987 crash, after the 2000 Tech Wreck, and after so many high-profile frauds that we've forgotten most of the names by now. Bottom line: For all the yelling about enhanced oversight, I'll believe it when I see it. So, no, I'm not convinced that all this new-found Wall Street reform religion will translate into anything that will have an effect on retail investors--it should but by the time the politicos and the industry cronies get their way, the reforms may have all the substance of a slice of Swiss cheese.

    Simply passing more laws and hiring more bodies does not further reform nor does it make investments safer for the average retail investor. Enforceable laws and competent regulators do that--and we haven't had an abundance of either. Moreover, the question begs another question: How safe should investors generally feel? My answer is that you shouldn't trust much of what you read about investing, and you shouldn't trust that the so-called regulators will stay awake while some con artist is picking your pocket. Maybe the best thing that comes out of times such as these is a healthy dose of skepticism and the sense that you should stuff your hands in both pockets and grab your money and wallet when walking through Wall Street.

To read the entire Intelligent Investing Panel interview, visit: