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They Exist: 'Bankers for Bernie' Fight for Sanders in New York

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

    Bernie Sanders. (Gage Skidmore / (CC BY-SA 2.0))

A group of high-profile Wall Street figures that includes Asher Edelman, one of the real-life templates for Gordon “Greed Is Good” Gekko of the 1987 movie “Wall Street”, “are prepared to abandon pure self-interest and embrace the radical financial reforms espoused by Bernie Sanders,” writes Ed Pilkington at The Guardian.

Behold Paul Ryan, “a managing director at Tripoint Global Equities, an investment bank that works with small businesses,” who “believes that the physical presence of Wall Street and the ostentatious wealth that flows from it through Manhattan provide ample evidence that Sanders’ radical policies are right”:

“New Yorkers are particularly well positioned to see how the rich are screwing over everybody else. You just have to look at real estate prices – people will take a look at what’s happening across the city and a certain number will be disgusted by it: Bernie speaks to them,” he said.

Ryan said his work with smaller companies, who continue to find it much harder to obtain finance than big corporations in the wake of the 2008 crash, has set him apart from most of his peers and made him more amenable to Sanders’ call for a Wall Street shake up. “These past few years haven’t been good for my clients as nobody is talking about meaningful policies to reinvigorate small business and manufacturing,” he said.

Ryan admits there is an element of self-interest in his support for Sanders in that his investment firm depends on the financial health of its clients who are hurting. But he also insists that his unusual position as a financier who wants to see major change on Wall Street comes from something more fundamental in him: “Conscience. I have a conscience. We have gone so far down the road of Reagan economics we’ve ended up in downright cruelty. That’s why Bernie must win.”

For Wade Black, chief operating officer at the boutique investment banking firm Scarsdale Equities, “it was the experience of watching the financial world suffer serial convulsions that turned him into a Banker for Bernie,” Pilkington writes.

“I’m 42. In my relatively short career on Wall Street, I’ve watched us lurch from crisis to crisis – from the Mexican peso crisis of 1994, the dot-com bubble, post-9/11 – without exactly learning our lesson.”

After all that, Black came to the conclusion that “capitalism works better if we don’t have a class of banks who take all the reward and none of the risk.” And like Ryan, he thinks the fallout of that disparity is written all over New York city.

“Just look at the city and you see the problem writ large. Income inequality in New York is huge – you just have to walk around Queens and Brooklyn to see what’s going on. It’s unsustainable.”

These bankers maintain that “Clinton’s talk about toughening up the regulators and empowering prosecutors doesn’t go far enough,” Pilkington writes.

He may be an investment banker himself, but Ryan prefers Sanders’ pledge to begin breaking up the banks in his first 100 days in the White House over Clinton’s more indirect promises.

“She has a thousand talking points, but when the lights are turned off and all the glare of the election fades, politics-as-normal will return, the lobbyists will get to work, and nothing at all will happen,” he said.

Frank, still speaking anonymously, agrees. “Hillary Clinton is paying lip-service to Wall Street changes. Maybe in her heart she means business, but for me income inequality is the civil rights issue of our time, and I feel strongly we need a president who is totally committed to making this happen.”

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—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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