I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the current economic tsunami hitting Wall Street. On my shows, I have talked to countless economists, bankers, congressmen, senators and trade representatives in the last few weeks and months. All have different opinions on how we got here, but few have cogent ideas for getting us out of it. Only time will tell us the right way back to growth and prosperity. One thought that is in need of answers in my mind is how the wave ripping through Wall Street and Main Street will change the landscape in its aftermath. With the wave of ridiculous, out of touch, arrogant behavior growing, Wall Street CEOs likely have changed the landscape for years to come. Executives of Detroit's Big Three flying to Washington in three private jets and then shaking their tin cups on Capitol Hill was ridiculous. John Thain of Merrill Lynch spending $1.2 million redecorating his swanky office with commodes, chandeliers and Egyptian fabric-laden lamps (while laying off thousands) was a total disregard for everyone except Thain and proof he really is a greedy S.O.B. Recall, he was "talked out of" taking a $10 million bonus at the end of last year because Merrill and parent Bank of America ( BAC) had been taking billions of dollars of assistance from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Ridiculous! And big-time fund managers giving Ponzi schemer's billions of dollars without ever doing due diligence. Again, ridiculous! So I asked my friend and mentor's son, who will graduate from Wharton Business School next year, what the feeling is there. Remember, some of these guys and gals entered the school before the economic crisis hit. Many mortgaged their future, borrowing big bucks in hope of a lucrative career awaiting them after graduation.
"Absolute fear," he said. "We have worked for years and have taken loans prepping for a Wall Street career. Now we don't even know if we are going to be able to find a job." It is sad that the greed of some has crushed the future of many. Twenty years ago, Wall Street was a bastion of capitalism. Eat or be eaten, survival of the fittest. I was always proud to tell people I came from the bottom of the economic totem pole and succeeded through my ability to see value where others could not, to trade my way to a prosperous life. Frankly, I am a bit embarrassed to say I am from the world that these few greedy morons turned into their own ugly financial orgy. My hope is that one day Wall Street again symbolizes capitalism and all the things that make America the land of opportunity. My hope is that one day, memories of Bernard Madoff, Thain, General Motors' ( GM) Rick Wagoner and Chrysler's Robert Nardelli, and others like them, fade, and investing, trading and earning a living on Wall Street return. As for my friend's son Daniel, unfortunately, timing is everything in life. Can you say law school?