1. A New Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Subprime mortgages. Abusive and arbitrary rate hikes on your credit card. Payday loans. If you're wondering who lets banks get away with this crap, there are more people at it than you think. There are no less than four federal regulators responsible for overseeing consumer protection in finance, and all of them are terrible.
2. Too big to fail. Here's an idea: Let's give a handful of firms on Wall Street so much economic power that if they ever fail, the entire economy will collapse with them. Sound good? Of course not. But sadly, that's what Wall Street looks like today, and the problem has actually gotten worse since the financial crisis began because troubled firms have been eaten up in a flurry of mergers with stronger behemoths to stave off catastrophe.
3. Derivatives. When people say "derivatives," they mean the crazy financial weapons of mass destruction that brought down AIG. But they also mean hundreds of trillions of dollars of other crazy shit.
4. Leverage. Ever gambled with somebody else's money? Pretty fun stuff. If your bets pay off, you get to keep the winnings. If your bets don't turn out so hot, you can stick your friend with the bill. That's the basic concept behind leverage, and it's how Wall Street is able to make a killing off minor movements in the values of stocks and other securities.
5. Executive compensation. You're pissed off about the $26 billion Goldman Sachs plans to pay in bonuses this year, and you're right to be. Not only is this an obscene gesture in the face of 10 percent unemployment and an affront to the very taxpayers who saved every single job at Goldman Sachs last year, it actively harms the economy.