President Obama addressed a group of Wall Street executives and government officials at Wall Street's Federal Hall just now, and those who went expecting to hear praise for having turned things around must have left disappointed. The president laid into Wall Street like a hard-assed principal lecturing the school after a botched stunt from the football team. "Unfortunately, there are some in the financial industry who are misreading this moment," he said. "Instead of learning the lessons of Lehman and the crisis from which we are still recovering, they are choosing to ignore them. They do so not just at their own peril, but at our nation's."
“I want everybody here to hear my words,” Mr. Obama said. “We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses. Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall.”
The applause after the speech, the Times notes, was "tepid." And we imagine they were thinking, Really? Would the president actually let the economy fail to punish Wall Street? Any crafty high-school delinquent knows: Adults always threaten serious punishment, but they rarely follow through.