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What Wall Street Wants to Hear in First Presidential Debate


Wall Street may want a pro-business administration, but Lee Munson, author of Rigged Money and founder of Portfolio LLC thinks the only businessman in the race is going to have a problem convincing people he's the guy to get American industry out of its 3-year coma.

Romney may have made hundreds of millions of dollars in private equity but Munson isn't convinced the co-Founder of Bain Capital was more than a "trader of paper money." He's echoing the argument made by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and others in the media. The basic thrust is that Bain took over struggling companies, levered them up and often cut staff, then paid itself outrageous fees for the trouble.

There's more than a grain of truth to the charges. There's also a huge chunk of willful ignorance. Bain wasn't a hostile bidder for companies. They got invited in, usually by management seeking either outside strategic help or a group with deep pockets to help make insiders rich. The economics of the business necessitate taking an interest in struggling companies where failure isn't just an option but inevitable if no action is taken.

No healthy companies were victimized; not out of charity but because taking out vibrant businesses was too expensive to fit Bain's M.O. Which is just nuance. Munson is "disturbed" by how Romney did business and he's not alone.

The Republican nominee has to convince the skeptics that he isn't a one-trick leverage monkey but an actual business leader who understands how to create jobs. The best way to do it is to lay out an industrial policy that can spark growth. If this smacks some of socialism so be it. Our market isn't now nor has it ever been truly "free." A push from the government to help catalyze industry is entirely appropriate and business as usual.

Which brings us back to the original question: What does Wall Street want to hear on Wednesday night? A promise to give industry a shove with lower corporate taxes for any industry that can create jobs (as opposed to pet projects), fewer regulations and "don't do anything else."

The first guy to stop talking wins. Gentlemen, start your focus group-approved regurgitation.