It's a given that the handful of Wall Street firms that now dominate our financial markets would manage a cap and trade "market" in carbon-emissions permits to maximize their own profits. Now we know that they will do just about anything in their pursuit of profits, even misleading their own clients or betting against them. That's the essence of the SEC's recent suit against Goldman Sachs: It alleges that Wall Street's premiere firm permitted one of its major clients, whose business revolved around betting on a declining market, to design a package of securities which Goldman then sold to other clients with assurances that it would rise in value.
Moreover, while Goldman Sachs was pushing these and other mortgage-backed security packages on many of its clients, it too bet against the same market. Even if a court fails to find these various machinations illegal, they reveal the deceptive practices that now pervade many of our markets.
Once we recognize the market's vulnerability to such abuses -- not to speak of outright manipulation -- what justification can there be to entrust the same Wall Street traders with the operations of a national climate program? Yet, that's just what we would do by enacting a cap and trade system, one quickly capitalized by Congress with $2 trillion in new carbon-emission securities and just as quickly exposing the American economy and people to new financial risks.