Informed observers suggest an additional $1,500bn in capital might be needed for such reasons. So double this and assume it all comes from the state: it would still “only” be 10 per cent of US and European GDP. If the real interest rate were 2 per cent, this would be a permanent increase in public spending of 0.2 per cent of GDP.

Moreover, this would not be extra demand for resources. It would be a recognition of past errors: a part of what people thought was private lending turned out to be public spending. Stuff indeed happens!

I like to see reporters and editors using plain language to call it like it is instead of hiding behind “neutral” wiggle words that allow them to avoid responsibility—and for readers to miss the point. So, a tip of the hat to Bloomberg for calling a spade a spade, that the government may directly subsidize GE, Citigroup, and others:

he Federal Reserve may subsidize America’s companies by purchasing their short-term debt at rates below those demanded by private investors in the $1.6 trillion commercial-paper market.

The Journal takes a nice look at the end of an era on Wall Street, with punctured egos and bank accounts deflating the one-time “Masters of the Universe.”

Mike Holland, a money manager at Holland & Co., a New York investment firm, compares the current environment to the 1970s, when the “go-go” era of the 1960s was followed by rising inflation and interest rates. Stock-market returns suffered.

“The gilded age of the early 21st century is coming to a close,” Mr. Holland said. The next decade, he said, will see fewer “houses in the Hamptons, yachts and soirees in Sardinia,” reducing “the allure of Wall Street and the whole investment business.”

Mr. Solomon, 70 years old, started on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers in 1960 when the firm occupied a smallish 12-story building and the entire investment-banking department occupied a single floor. “We bought our own lunches and we took the subway,” he said.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.