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Five Ugly Ways Wall Street Insults Clients

In case we didn’t already know that Wall Street is a corrupt and depraved place, Fortune recently published a list of the top 5 offensive references used on Wall Street to describe, or otherwise insult, unsuspecting clients.

1. Talking Heads: The Department of Justice filed a civil suit last week against Standard & Poor’s for illegal behavior related to the financial crisis. The suit alleges that the agency ignored its own standards when rating mortgage-backed securities and misled investors by giving high ratings to risky investments. And in the midst of that, an S&P analyst thought it would be funny to write a parody song about the improperly rated securities, based on “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads. In a brief moment of remorse (or fear of consequences) he asked his co-workers not to share it with anyone.

2. Muppets: In his op-ed, “Why I Quit Goldman Sachs”, Greg Smith revealed that traders frequently referred to their clients as muppets.

3. Captain Chaos: When they were fixing Libor rates, UBS traders liked to refer to themselves as Captain Chaos (after the alter-ego in Cannonball Run).

4. Mike Tyson’s Punchout: Investment bankers at Morgan Stanley toyed with the idea of naming a mortgage bond (which later imploded) after Mike Tyson’s Punchout video game. They decided to call it STACK 2006-1 instead…a little more palatable to investors.

5. Trading Places: This one is also related to the DOJ suit against Standard & Poor’s. According to the suit, another analyst made a reference to the movie “Trading Places”, telling an investment banker “Downgrade, Mortimer, downgrade”.

Whether it was direct or indirect, even if it was just a laugh among co-workers, cracking jokes at a client’s expense (while they are being taken advantage of none the less) is crude. It’s offensive. It’s business as usual on Wall Street.


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