"Speculation is only a word covering the making of money out of the manipulation of prices, instead of supplying goods and services." -- Henry Ford
While I do not agree with Henry Ford, his statement is a fair approximation of the feelings of many who do not work on Wall Street. Even some on Wall Street believe that deregulation went too far.The principal component of successful markets is "trust" -- trust in one's counterparties, trust in one's trading and settlement mechanism, and most of all, trust in market pricing. Participants need to have confidence that the playing field is level. Over the past 10 months, anyone who has read a newspaper or turned on the television has witnessed multiple stories that have eroded that trust. It is imperative to the continued success of the U.S. financial markets that trust be restored, because if investors do not trust a market, they will not invest in it. Without participation, investment wanes and growth stagnates. The first phase of the move to re-establish trust will likely be led by the CFTC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The rise in crude above $140 a barrel a year ago prompted Congress to examine the structure of those markets. In many respects, Congress and the CFTC are already on the same page, despite the fact that the new chairman of the CFTC was sworn in just over a month ago. The combination of CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler's announcement of summer hearings regarding new regulations and a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy has hurled speculation into the spotlight. As usual, Wall Street and its colleagues in the trading pits in Chicago have put up their guard, fearing that someone is taking aim at them. Free-market ideologues quickly ramp up the rhetoric. These individuals conveniently forget that their primary standard bearer over the past quarter of century, Alan Greenspan, recanted part of his deregulatory orthodoxy in front of Congress last year.