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02:02 PM
Bernie McSherry
Bernie McSherry

The Winter Of Our Discontent May Not Be Over

In our zest to find scapegoats, many good people are being unfairly disparaged and reckless statements about our system are being bandied about.

McSherry is SVP of Strategic Initiatives at Cuttone & Company.

Even the weariest of investors can take solace in the fact that these are the first days of spring. Here in the New York area, daffodils are about to bloom and an air of optimism and hope is creeping into the collective consciousness. Baseball is around the corner and songbirds have begun to sing in the yard. Heck, even the stock market has been rising the last couple of weeks.

Even as the mood lifts, however, it must be recognized that there are still troubling signs on the horizon (and I'm not talking about Canada Geese migrating north to despoil our parks). Home prices are still slumping in most parts of the country and while the number of new jobless claims has stabilized for the moment, the sunniest of optimists would be hard pressed to sound the all-clear signal.

Even as optimism grows, the travails of Tim Geithner have been undermining confidence. The administration's ability is increasingly being called into question and the Treasury Secretary seems to be the focal point for catching the heat. He doesn't have much of a window to turn perceptions around, so for the sake of all, let's hope that he has gotten some media coaching before his next public pronouncement. The public needs to have faith in the man who heads Treasury.

Even as consumers stash away those winter coats (a steal at 80% off!) populist outrage is bubbling up from the depths of the country. Folks are disgusted and every statement from the 401k administrator is a potential cause for panic, assuming that anyone has the guts to open one these days. Prospects for retirement seem ever more remote and angry consumers are looking for someone to blame. With Bernie Madoff temporarily off the front pages, it appears that bonus recipients are next on the firing line.

Even as our political leaders try to position themselves as the deliverymen and deliverywomen of national retribution, thoughtful people are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the direction of the debate. Rather than attempt to inject some calm and offer reasonable reform proposals, Congress is stoking the fires of class resentment in earnest. The rhetoric that is emanating from Washington and statehouses across the country is cause for concern.

Even though I am as angry as anyone about the actions of what was ultimately a small coterie of reckless bankers, it seems to me that our leaders are charting a potentially dangerous course. The vast majority of people who work in the financial industry are honest, diligent and responsible people.

In our zest to find scapegoats, many good people are being unfairly disparaged and reckless statements about our system are being bandied about. The ability to innovate, take risk and then reap the rewards of one's own labor has been an essential element of the American success story. We are all ill served by those who tell us otherwise.

Let's hope that our leaders rethink their demagoguery before they unleash forces that could turn winter, spring, summer and fall into national seasons of discontent.

About the Author

McSherry serves as senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Cuttone & Company, where he is a member of the management committee involved with strategic planning and market strategy. He has served in a number of leadership positions within the Industry and has chaired several New York Stock Exchange committees, including the Equity Traders Advisory Committee. He was also a member of the Market Performance Committee and served as a New York Stock Exchange Governor for six terms. He is a past President of the Alliance of Floor Brokers, an industry trade group and is a member of both the Security Traders Association of New York (STANY) and the National Organization of Investment Professionals (NOIP).

McSherry began his career as an institutional options trader, working on the American Stock Exchange in the early 1980s. He founded McSherry & Company in 1988, eventually growing it into one of the largest independent brokerage firms on the floor of the NYSE. In 2000, McSherry & Company was acquired by SunGard Global Execution Services. Mr. McSherry served as CEO of its New York and London-based Broker Dealers for two years following its acquisition. He then joined Prudential Equity Group and held the position of Head of Sales Trading and NYSE Operations before joining Cuttone & Company in 2007. Mr. McSherry is a regular commentator on CNBC and other media outlets.

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