Society Before Shareprice
Mistakes often provide the best lessons in life. The human tendency is to blot out bad memories, but we must always try to learn from our errors and make appropriate corrections. The best leaders ensure that such lessons are studied, and that what is learned from them is implemented and kept constantly in the forefront of people's minds.
Clearly, Wall Street has a lesson to learn from its neglect of the big picture. That narrow-minded fixation on the quick profit, along with some shady maneuvering, led to financial disaster. Now it's up to the government to ensure that there is transparency on Wall Street, that the dangerous practices of the past are replaced by more careful methods. A Wall Street Journal article the other day pointed out that short-selling of stocks is nearly as prevalent now as it was a year ago, despite emergency bans that were put in place in the wake of the financial meltdown. This suggests that a true, long-term solution will come only through stronger guidelines.
By setting the proper tone through transparency and careful regulation, we'll encourage the financial industry to develop leaders who care about the nation and society, and not just about share price. At the moment, stock prices are up, which makes all of us happy, but we must not fall into a false sense of complacency, for in so doing we risk losing the incentive to change the corporate mindset that got us into trouble in the first place. If we fail to take advantage of this current opportunity, I doubt we will have the strength or capacity to deal with another meltdown anytime in the near future.
If any further incentive is needed to alter our methods on Wall Street, we should consider our credibility in the overseas markets. The U.S. was regarded as a beacon of the free market around the world, but that reputation has been damaged. By and large, the world believes that the meltdown started with us. It doesn't matter whether that's true or not. That's the perception, and we need to act on it and get our house in order.
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