Many will say that we are through the grimmest part of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and in many ways they are right. There are glimmers of light on the horizon. However, this is a treacherous part of the cycle for individual firms, the financial services industry as a whole and the economy as a whole.
Punish-the-bankers rhetoric abounds. Though Congress has cobbled together a number of thoughtful reform bills, other proposals may capture the popular imagination and change financial services for the worse. The regulatory pendulum is still swinging in the direction of tougher standards and tougher exams.