Thursday, January 19, 2006

THE WALL STREET DANCE: Susan Antilla has a great column today in Bloomberg: "With Sex in Air It's Time for Defense Lawyers." It's about a suit that was filed recently against Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein Services, and it describes in knowing detail the little dance that takes place whenever such suits are filed:

"So far, the big Dresdner suit is moving according to the scripts of predecessor suits:

"First, the firm denies the allegations and says that it will fight them vigorously. . . .

"Next, the plaintiffs' counsel says it will be a fight to the end. . .

"After that, companies find ways to get good press as ``friends of women" . . .

"Finally, settlement talks begin. Out-of-court agreements mean no discovery process to unearth the salaries, the promotions, and the hiring practices and expose them at trial. Many settlements also entail promises that the plaintiffs never speak about what happened to them. Presto, a clean slate, as if nothing ever happened."

Note that the media plays an essential role in the process -- a phenomenon that I describe in Wall Street Versus America.

Keep in mind that Wall Street isn't Iraq or the White House or Congress. As a rule (Susan Antilla being one conspicuous exception), the media is not an adversary to Street institutions and regulators but on board -- very much part of the team. That's why examples of atrocious media coverage can be found throughout my book.

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