A professor of law and finance at the University of San Diego, Frank Partnoy used to structure derivatives for Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston. He is the author of Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Market and The Match King: Ivan Kreuger, The Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Marcela Gaviria on Feb. 16, 2012.
Let's begin with Occupy Wall Street. What impact do you think they're having and [what] do you feel that they will spawn these ideas into the next few years?
I really don't think Occupy Wall Street is having much of an impact, and I'm not sure that it will. …
One of the problems is that the Occupy Wall Street movement tapped into a vein of emotion that just wasn't going to last forever. It lasted for a brief period of time and it didn't result in a change in policy. I think Wall Street was very effective in waiting out that surge of emotion. And so, I'm not optimistic that there will be changes in the long term.
But haven't they tapped into something fundamental, that 1 percent of this country are really going to continue to exploit and benefit from the wealth of this country, and 99 percent will be stuck?
I think that is true and it is fundamental. But what also is fundamental is that the power structure of the way that we're governed is set up to benefit those 1 percent. And the way that campaigns are financed, the way that money is spent on lobbying and politicians is such that the 99 percent really doesn't have much of a chance, particularly when it comes to Wall Street. There just isn't an aggregation of interests that has been able to match the really focused, concentrated efforts by Wall Street to lobby and influence really both political parties.