At a Vanity Fair and Bloomberg event in Manhattan on Wednesday night, audience members were delighted by an impromptu ( and slightly coerced) appearance by Morgan Stanley CEO, John Mack, who called for far more stringent policing of Wall Street.
Mack, sitting inconspicuously amongst a crowd of business journos and financiers, was cheekily ambushed by Bloomberg's Margaret Brennan during the 'additional questions' portion of the evening, after a stellar panel of business reporters (and one historian) speculated on the causes of the financial crisis and analyzed how governmental and news institutions have handled the event.
After a quasi-joke that he was hiding from the camera, Mack grudgingly stood up and answered questions from Brennan and the panel. Mack, who will step down as CEO of Morgan Stanley next January, thought press coverage of the crisis had been, "overall, fair," and honed in on the urgent need for greater regulation of the finance industry.
"Regulators have to be much more involved," Mack said. "We cannot control ourselves -- [regulators] have to step in and control the Street." He added that some positive changes have been made, pointing to the fact that in the halls of Morgan Stanley, ten or fifteen federal regulators now roam daily.
"I love it," Mack said. "It forces firms to invest in risk management."
The 'Covering the Crisis' panel consisted of Vanity Fair's Bryan Burrough (formerly an investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal), Niall Ferguson (a professor of history and business at Harvard and contributing editor for the Financial Times), Bethany McLean (a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the reporter often credited with having brought down Enron) and Andrew Ross Sorkin (the NYT's chief mergers and acquisitions reporter and columnist). The discussion was moderated by a pithy and tongue-in-cheek Michael Lewis, who left Portfolio in February to join the ranks of Graydon Carter's mag (the man at the helm of Vanity Fair was in attendance, as was the Bloomberg group's multimedia CEO, Andrew Lack).
Some highlights from the conversation...
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