A few weeks ago, we set out to determine who deserved the most blame for this financial mess we're in ... March Madness style. Sixteen contenders competed in our blame bracket. Now, only one remains to claim the agony of victory.
Based on your voting, you blame the repealers of the Glass-Steagall act (skillfully advocated by Foolish colleague Christopher Barker) more than any other culprit.
The Glass-Steagall Act required the separation of commercial and investment banks. After it was repealed, one-stop-shops such as Citigroup
There could only be one winner, but the close voting indicates that you spread the guilt among at least 14 of our 16 candidates. Basically, everyone in our bracket got some blame love except Adam Smith and Kate Hudson, who share honors as the biggest blowouts of the first round. You refused to blame Adam Smith for the perversions of his free-market principles, and you refused to blame Kate Hudson's romantic-comedy misses for our financial drama. (We would have been worried if you had.)
It was fun to narrow the field down to one culprit, but let's see how all 14 intertwine via one too-big-to-fail sentence:
Lax regulation by Congress (e.g., repealing Glass-Steagall), the SEC (e.g., allowing investment bank leverage as high as 40-to-1, and failing to catch Bernie Madoff sooner), and the Greenspan/Bernanke dynamic duo (e.g., excessively low interest rates), assisted by subprime guarantees by Fannie Mae
Whew! I count 125 words -- and that's without bringing Kate Hudson into it. Let's hope that next year, I can write an equally long sentence assessing who deserves the credit for a great financial recovery plan. Fingers crossed.