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Interesting thoughts here from Michael Lewitt on the change in Wall Street since Michael Milken was seen as a “financial innovator”.  These days, the big “innovators” just have the best contacts at Goldman and know how to package the right product to shove down someone else’s throat (via John Mauldin):

“During the final segment of CNBC’s Strategy Session (which TCS will miss), David Faber made a very compelling comparison between two financiers – Michael Milken and John Paulson. Mr. Faber made the point that when he began his career as a Wall Street journalist (he started in the same year that I joined Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc. –1987) the most highly compensated financier of the era was Michael Milken. Today John Paulson wears that crown. Mr. Milken famously earned $550 million in1987 (which pretty much sealed his legal fate regardless of the validity (or lack thereof) of the charges brought against him) while Mr. Paulson earned an astounding $5 billion in 2010 (and a couple of billion more in 2009 from his bet on subprime mortgages). Mr. Faber then went on to point out that Mr. Milken created the high yield bond market, which has expanded into a major economic force that financed many new businesses such as telecommunications (MCI), cable television (John Malone), and casinos (Steve Wynn and others). In contrast, Mr. Paulson has created nothing and instead profited from mere speculation. The difference between how these two men made their fortunes not only says a lot about how Wall Street has devolved over the last 25 years, but also how the U.S. economy has deteriorated during that period.”

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