WALL STREET, JEWISH / ISRAELI ETHICS, AND THE WORLD OF FUND RAISING

Wall Street

Wall Street

Among the economic fields in which Jews today are especially visible is investment banking — “Wall Street,” including interconnected networks of lawyers and other legal and economic manipulators stretching deeply into Hollywood and the mass media. Since the 1800s the “Old Crowd” of German-Jewish banking families (the Seligmans, Lehmans, Goldmans, Sachs, Warburgs, Schiffs, Loebs, et al) had predominated the field; a “New Crowd” of Jews has in recent decades taken their place. After World War II, melodramatically note Judith Ehrlich and Barry Rehfeld, “economic power in America and Wall Street was shifting … Fresh faces came forward as if answering a call … They were the children and grandchildren of Italian, Irish, Poles, and other Europeans who were not of Anglo-Saxon ancestry. But most of all they were Jews.” [EHRLICH, p. 12] This is not to suggest of course that the seminal Jewish American investment firms are today inconsequential. Far from it. In 1999, for instance, Goldman, Sachs and Co. stretched across the world to become the “single largest and controlling shareholder of South Korea’s largest bank, Kookmin. [BLOOMBERG NEWS, p. 11]

“In the world of high finance,” observed Gerald Krefetz, “Jewish interest is concerned with investment banking, a broad catchall for activities ranging from tendering advice to underwriting securities. The heart of investment banking is public offerings and private placements, the risking of capital — sometimes ones’ own, but more often other peoples’ — to finance new companies, or expand old ones.” [KREFETZ, p. 54] The nature of Wall Street entrepreneurship might well be presumed in the title of a 1986 volume by Ken Auletta: Greed and Glory on Wall Street: the Fall of the House of Lehman, or Martin Meyer’s Nightmare on Wall Street: Salomon Brothers and the Corruption of the Marketplace (1993). Both Lehman and Solomon are Jewish-founded firms.

A French Jewish commentator, Bernard Lazare, noted Jewish propensities in high finance in the late 1800s:

“The man of the lower middle class, the small tradesman at whom
speculation has probably ruined has much clearer ideas of why he
is an anti-Semite. He knows that reckless speculation [by financiers],
with its attendant panics, has been his bane, and for him, the most
formidable jugglers of capital, the most dangerous speculators, are the
Jews; which, indeed, is very true.” [LAZARE, B., p. 173]

Finance, investment banking, brokerage, and commodities are the speediest ways (short of outright crime) to get rich in America; by 1988 the stock and bond market and linked economic activities totaled 12 trillion dollars a year (six times the value of the assets of Fortune’s top 500 companies). “Where the money went,” note Ehrlich and Rehfeld, “and what happened to it were greatly influenced by Wall Street power brokers.” [EHRLICH, p. 19] Corporate mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers have become an especially lucrative field. “By the 1980s, says Ehrlich and Rehfeld, “along with [Gentile] T. Boone Pickens, and a few others … the [Jewish] New Crowd was at the very core of the mergers and acquisitions field.” [EHRLICH, p. 15]…. [This circle of money men] bought luxurious homes, expensive art, high-priced foreign cars, designer clothes and jewelry; they hosted or appeared at the right parties.” [EHRLICH, p. 16] … The old WASP establishment had seen its wealth eroded by changing tax laws and inflation … arriviste Jews began to appear on the boards of such time-honored WASP institutions as the Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Public Library.” [EHRLICH, p. 5] … The New Crowd broke the stranglehold of the Establishment WASP bankers and [older Jewish] Our Crowd competitors … and extended profit centers to newer financial activities such as block trading, risk arbitrage, a wide range of retail securities products, financial futures, listed trading of options, and junk bond financing that helped companies expand and made almost every company vulnerable to a takeover, a leveraged buyout that restructured corporate entities and raised critical debt levels.” [EHRLICH, p. 394]

In the 1970s, “hostile turnovers,” notes James Stewart, “bore an unsavory taint. They generated bad feelings, especially toward those who represented the attackers. This sometimes alienated other clients. Much of the WASP investment banks and loan firms preferred to leave such work to the other firms, many of them Jewish.” [STEWART, p. 25] “Various techniques and instruments were used in the Wall Street boom of the 1980s,” says Norman Cantor, “but the most consequential — and lucrative was the floating ‘junk’ (low grade) bond to provide capital for involuntary takeovers of one company by another … Fiscal critic Benjamin Stein [sees] the junk bond device as a huge fraudulent Ponzi scheme generating temporary money pools that could be looted by ruthless investment bankers and corporate executives and their overcompensated lawyers.” [CANTOR, p. 402]

William Leach traces the influence that those in investment banking have had in shaping America, both economically and in influencing the nation’s values:

“The growth of investment banking and mass consumption industries
were (and still are) closely related developments … Bankers assisted in
undermining the competitive ethos by directing business interest toward
concentration and easy economic fixers. They helped local monopolies
become major national ‘players’ almost instantaneously. Banker-inspired
megalomania reinforces an already clear pattern in the economy away from
‘making goods’ to ‘making money.'” [LEACH, p. 275]

There is a long list of Jewish entrepreneurs on Wall Street who, as a group, have been influential in literally changing the American economic system. Sanford I. Weill, for instance, “amassed a brokerage empire and eventually became President of American Express;” he was later “recognized as one of the most powerful Jewish businessmen in the nation.” [EHRLICH, p. 13] John Gutfreund rose to become the chairman of Solomon, Inc., “one of the most powerful securities firms in the western world.” Felix Rohatyn “perhaps more than any other, was linked with the flood of massive corporate combinations that reshaped American business for much of the past three decades.” [EHRLICH, p. 14] Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., valued at around $3.5 billion and with assets of $90 billion, is “one of the biggest closely held U.S. money managers.” It manages $55 billion “for institutions, such as pension funds, endowments and foundations, and $35 billion for wealthy individuals.” [BLOOMBERG NEWS, INTL HERALD, p. 10]

Other influential Jewish Wall Street ‘players’ (financiers, lenders, borrowers, advisers, lawyers, et al) in recent years have included Alan Greenberg, Ira Harris, Bruce Wasserstein, Jerome Kohlberg, Henry Kravis, Peter Cohen, Joseph Flom, Martin Lipton, Victor Posner (“a onetime Baltimore slumlord” [FORBES, p. 45] who was indicted in 1982 for $1.25 million in income tax evasion and filing false tax returns [BRENNER, p. 72]), [Posner is “the flamboyantly wealthy Miami Beach financier [who has] been discredited as one of the most unprincipled and destructive modern corporate raiders.” [BIANCO, A., 1991, p. 31], Nelson Peltz, the Belzbergs, and many others. Alan Greenberg is the head of Bear Stearns, Stephen Schwarzman founded the Blackstone Group, a prominent investing firm. Well-known traditional Jewish investment banking houses include Lehman Brothers, Lazard Freres, Goldman Sachs, Salomon Brothers, Bache & Co., and Cantor/Fitzgerald. [SILBIGER, S., 2000, p. 78-79] “Jews took the lead in the ’60s,” notes Jewish business author Steven Silbiger, “with new investment banking techniques that helped introduce a conglomeration craze by using multipurpose holding companies … The concentration of Jewish-owned securities firms created well-paying employment opportunities at all levels of the securities industry: securities analysts; portfolio managers; and stock, bond and futures traders; brokers and deal-makers. Among the equity holders of the Jewish investment banking and trading firms on Wall Street are hundreds of Jewish millionaires. Upward mobility based on merit and high salaries has made working on Wall Street a Jewish-friendly career choice … Although exact figures for the numbers of Jews are not available, they no doubt have a leading and disproportionate role on Wall Street.” [SILBIGER, S., 2000, p. 78-80]

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