The Pope Just Called Out Wall Street

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Pope

The Vatican warns Wall Street

When you read the words, you just assume they belong to Senator Elizabeth Warren, a well-known Wall Street detractor. But no, the latest critic of the global banking system is none other than Pope Francis. In a 187-page papal letter that centers on the environment, Pope Francis saved a few lines for banks and the governments that allow the system to exist in the first place.

“The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated,” he wrote. Interestingly, Pope Francis appears to put more blame on regulators and politicians than the banks or bankers themselves, noting that the response – including bailing out banks in the first place – leaves the system at risk for a future collapse.

“Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery,” Pope Francis wrote in a fairly grim diagnosis.

So what’s the prescription for the fix? Maybe more regulation. “To ensure economic freedom from which all can effectively benefit, restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power,” he wrote.

Elsewhere, anecdotes about Jimmy Lee, the J.P. Morgan investment banker who died unexpectedly on Wednesday, continue to pour in. Known as one of the most decent men on Wall Street, Lee was equally as loyal.

He essentially had one employer his whole career, though the name on building changed a few times as companies were acquired. He only thought about quitting once. Lee was asked by one of his best friends, Blackstone’s Steven Schwarzman, to join the private equity firm as his number two, a move that would have made him a billionaire. Blackstone even had the press release ready, but after talking to then Chief Executive Bill Harrison, Lee couldn’t go through with it

“He had so much loyalty to the bank and the people there,” Schwarzman said of Lee. He apparently kept the offer letter in his top desk drawer as a reminder.

In another interesting story, Lee began his career with a bit of luck. His girlfriend, who later became his wife, was actually the one who got the interview at Chemical Bank, which eventually became part of J.P. Morgan. She couldn’t make it so she sent Lee instead. The rest was history.

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Quote of the Day

“You've got to be comfortable in your own skin. I think there's a lot to be said for being yourself.  It relaxes you. It calms you down and gives you the ability to deal with the unexpected." – Jimmy Lee’s best career advice

 

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