I find it hard to completely condemn and industry which I somewhat rely on (basically everyone who lives in the modern world and/or buys securities relies upon them). He's up there saying that they work in a different context depending on what is asked of them. There is a different between buying something because you think it is best and buying something while paying someone else to tell you what they think is best.
I realize he's making a bit of a word salad up there on the stand, but I have a feeling those questioning were also phrasing things in a way which made any straightforward answer quite condemning.
They're picking on this one specific thing based on how it can be made to look to the general public, not because it was legally wrong, otherwise their would have been a very different outcome.
I was buying WFC in Feb-March of 2009, and buying stuff like PMI and RDN in Aug 2008....glad that no one was ethically obligated to tell me I was a moron and refuse to sell to me.
It's exactly the fact that many of us partly rely on it for an eventual retirement that makes it condemn-able. In '08, how many people lost their retirements? Had to go back to work? And then this little weasel is in front of congress explaining how his massive corporation, deeply mired in what just transpired, is able to take both sides of a bet. I understand professionals were watching that saying 'of course', but there was a time where it wasn't allowed. I believe Slick Willy signed it's removal into law.
Would it be better if they were truly separated again rather than virtually separated? Stopping too big too fail is a question worth debate considering the recklessness we saw.