EppsNet Archive: John Bogle

The Capitalists Failed Us

31 Jul 2009 /

There are some things that one just didn’t do. That’s the way I was brought up. It’s not gray; it was black and white.

Now the ethical standard seems to be if everybody else is doing it, I can do it too. Carry that over into the banking. Everybody else is doing these funny loans and having earnings grow faster, building up their margins, leveraging those margins.

The more leverage A gets, the more leverage B feels inclined to get. So the system fed on itself and drove bankers to making decisions that they, presumably, should have known better than to make.

I don’t blame government for this. I was at a meeting of CEOs, even though I haven’t been to one for quite a while, and someone asked me to sum up the morning. This was a bunch of bankers and other CEOs. They said, what do you think about all this?

I said, you know, what I’m hearing here is you’re blaming the government for allowing you to do what you should have had enough brains not to do in the first place.