Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The New Wall Street

In lieu of today’s blog post, I’m posting a newspaper clipping that resulted, quite unexpectedly, from yesterday’s post.

Financial Crisis Solution: Move Wall St. to Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS—A solution to the country’s financial crisis has been found in an unlikely place. Hidden in the fine print of a PowerPoint graphic created by the U.S. military to explain Nato strategy in Afghanistan, an economist discovered a strategy for ending the recession, recapitalizing all the banks, and solving the vexing problem of the government deficit.

“It’s time to move Wall Street to Las Vegas,” exclaims economist Rick Aster. “I’m pretty sure Vegas has already built a life-size replica of Wall Street somewhere, so it’s really just a matter of moving the ticker-tape machines.”

An enthusiastic Aster reels off one bullet point after another of the advantages that Las Vegas could offer: Synthetic poker chips. Investment-grade slot machines. Mortgage-backed playing cards. A gambling commission that’s far more airtight than the Securities and Exchange Commission. And it’s in the Pacific time zone, so after the trading floor closes at 1 o’clock, you can go see Barry Manilow or Cirque du Soleil.”

Aster, who worked for two years in New York’s financial district, scoffs at the financial reform drama current playing out in Washington. “It’s not about who works in what office in Washington, it’s about who sweeps the casino, uh, or trading, floor at night,” insists Aster. “The people in Las Vegas know how to get it done.”

Aster is also calling for tougher licensing and education requirements for traders. “We could require derivatives traders to have roulette training,” he suggests. “It would have prevented trillions in losses if we had required this before the financial meltdown.”

Britney Fleur, a prominent Las Vegas investor who also works as a waitress at the 24-hour Bar at Times Square in the New York, New York casino, says investors would profit from the high-rolling atmosphere that Las Vegas has to offer. “The odds are about the same in either place, but in Vegas, you can drink on the trading floor,” said Fleur.