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Wall Street More Loathed Than Congress! Here's the Fix

It's official: Wall Street is now less popular than road kill, or chicken pox, or even, pardon the expression, Congress. That ugly fact emerged from the exit polling during the recent elections. Seems that 47% of Republicans and moderates -- not fiery Democrats, but calm-tempered business-loving types -- blame Wall Street, not Congress, for our current economic malaise.

This monstrous fact was the subject of a panel discussion at a recent meeting of the Securities and Financial Markets Association last week, and the trade press reported the angst this caused. Wall Street less popular than Congress! How low can you go?

I wasn't surprised to hear this. During the recent elections, both Democrats and Republicans ran against "New York" -- Wall Street, that is -- or, as Sharron Angle did, simply avoided the subject of the financial services industry completely. Seems the financial markets are just too much of a hot potato even for the supposed guardians of the free markets.

So what's Wall Street to do about all of this? I'm not sure that any of the bigger firms actually care about any of this, as long as the money is pouring in, as it surely has been doing recently. However, in a purely selfless, giving spirit, I hereby offer some practical ideas that can be immediately deployed to improve Wall Street's public image.

In no particular order:

Move

One of the worst problems Wall Street faces, from a branding standpoint, is that name, "Wall Street." It hasn't been literally accurate for many years, since the larger firms moved from Wall Street proper years ago, leaving only JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) and a handful of other banks on the actual Wall Street. (There also used to be a host of boiler rooms at 100 Wall, but that's another story.) The name conjures up images of greasy men in top hats counting large volumes of greenbacks. Well, it does to me, at least.

Simple problem, simple solution: Get out of town. Learn from the example of the Reader's Digest and move to a bucolic or bucolic-sounding area, like Pleasantville, NY. Or change the name of Wall Street to "Fruit of Human Kindness Street" or "Jobs Creation Boulevard." Change all the surrounding streets to similarly positive, forward-looking names. Or the banks and the New York Stock Exchange (NYX) can move to a street with a better reputation, like the Bowery. Think of that! (Newscaster: "On the Bowery, the Dow was up seven points."). I can see the poll numbers rising.

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