All they lack is a solid message. First of all, forget about solving the issue completely. If it were that easy, it would have been done already. What we need to do is to make a single solid step in the right direction.
The problems Wall street has are three fold:
- Excessive concentration on the short term. Short term profits can always be achieved by taking long term risks. It's not that hard to create gambling strategies that pay off a reasonable profit 9 times out of 10,but one time out of ten bankrupts you. Stock prices pay attention to short term profits, and often ignore long term risks.
- Unethical treatment of customers. American corporate law is at heart a "Buyer Be Ware" process. IT lets corporations sell things by focusing on the main benefit while ignoring the small print.
- Unemployment. When the business doesn't off shore their business, then they get beaten by foreign based companies.
Solution #1: More some of the focus of corporations to the long term via bonus rules. Three rules to do this:
- Any public corporation based in the US can not pay any person more than $200,000 unless at least half of the amount over $200k is in the form of a corporate bonus. You can pay them $500k a year, as long as $150k of that $500k is in the form of the corporate bonus.
- All corporate bonuses must "vest" over a period of at least 4 years. If you earn a bonus in one year, your get no more than 25% one year after you earn it, 25% the next year, etc. etc. If you leave the company, you still get the bonus. No bonuses can vest in any year unless the corporation declares a taxable profit to the US government.
- All un-vested corporate bonuses are, by law, forfeit to the the government if the corporation receives a bail out or to creditors if the corporation goes bankrupt. If a corporation is in talks about a bailout or is considering declaring bankruptcy, then the bonuses must be delayed for up to 3 months or until the talks/considerations are over. If they can delay completing the bankruptcy/bailout, then they get that extra year's worth of bonuses.
Solution #2: Grant more power to the newly created Federal Trade Commission. Specifically, grant it a rating power. It can review any and all contracts for major corporations and rate them - from A to an F. This rating, by law, must be prominently displayed at the location where people sign the contract - and in large, readable, type whenever any web site requires you to click to accept. Failure to do so invalidates the contract completely.