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September 18, 2008

Wall Street Fun-And-Games

Bush Nyse

Bush Nyse 2

Bush Nyse 3

On Wall Street, you know that America’s economic leadership rests on strong and flexible capital markets. Capital markets connect entrepreneurs with the investment they need to turn their ideas into new businesses. America’s capital markets are the deepest, the broadest, and the most efficient in the world. Yet excessive litigation and over-regulation threaten to make our financial markets less attractive to investors, especially in the face of rising competition from capital markets abroad. To keep America’s economic leadership, America must be the best place in the world to invest capital and to do business.

– from George Bush State of the Economy Report, New York Federal Hall, January 31, 2007

The desperately eroding Wall Street situation, with its thorough absence of accountability, reminded me of these photos from this photo-op Presidency.

They were taken on 1/31/07 during a surprise appearance at the NYSE , noted by the White House as just the second time a sitting president had visited the exchange floor during business hours. The guy just to the left in the top shot, by the way, is none other than the (soon-to-be-dumped) head of the bloodied Merrill Lynch, John Thain.

There are so many elements to call out here, most of them sad.  The broadcasting of the flag patch on the trader’s arm speaks to how Bush used 9/11, and “the urgency” of patriotism, not just to suspend norms and protocols but to help justify the “free market” practice of looking the other way.  The baseball shot (which I’ve actually run before) has all kinds of implications, one, for example, modeling business as fun-and-games.  What these pics also document is just how much Bush’s frame of reference involved cheerleading as a substitute for governance.  When, in retrospect, a steward or manager was desperately needed, what Bush offered, instead, was, yes, celebrity.

complete White House NYSE photo gallery

Dow Finishes Day Lower Than When Bush Took Office (Mother Jones)

(images: Paul Morse/

  • kate

    The far-right faction of the Republican party should be proud, he did what they wanted; stand aside and let the invisible managers — I mean “hand” run the market and the economy. And frankly, just like the rest of them, he could care less either way, he’ll never have to worry about getting his basic needs met, unlike the average citizen who gets whipped by the tail of this monster.

  • Clem Guttata

    There’s good reason why sitting President’s do not visit the trading floor during business hours, it is a distraction from getting work done.
    Someone took their eye off the ball… the market makers need to go back to basics if indeed the fundamentals are once again going to be strong.

  • mudkitty

    In the first shot, Bush looks like he’s tossing a coin, which is an apt metaphor.

  • Angellight

    Republican Controlled Government Says:
    “We don’t have ENOUGH MONEY to fix Social Security
    We don’t have ENOUGH MONEY to fix Medicare
    We don’t have ENOUGH MONEY to provide health care to ALL Americans
    We don’t have ENOUGH MONEY to help out Americans losing their homes
    We don’t have ENOUGH MONEY to help all our veterans returning from war
    We DO HAVE ENOUGH MONEY to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
    We DO HAVE ENOUGH MONEY to bail out Bears Stearns
    We DO HAVE ENOUGH MONEY to bail out AIG
    We DO HAVE ENOUGH MONEY to pay for an unnecessary TRILLION DOLLAR war
    When the LITTLE GUY needs help, they scornfully say, “GET A JOB!”
    But when of their BIG GUY CRONIES need a bailout, what do they say?

  • Marc Levack

    Thanks for providing idea about cheerleading sports. – Cheerleading Directory for Cheerleading, Cheer, Dance, Supplier and Associations.

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