Madoff was best known for being a pioneer in the business of market-making. His firm, which he started five decades ago with money he earned as a lifeguard in Far Rockaway, Queens, was for a long time primarily in the business of acting as a middle man between buyers and sellers of stocks. It is an essential function for a market like the Nasdaq, which doesn't have an actual trading floor where buyers and sellers can meet face-to-face. Madoff's firm was a major driver behind the growth of the Nasdaq, creating a system that courted brokers who had mostly traded stocks on the larger New York Stock Exchange to do more of their business with the Nasdaq. "He brought a lot of business to the Nasdaq," says Alan Davidson, a former Nasdaq board member and president of brokerage Zeus Securities. "He was a powerhouse on the NASD board. It's a real shock."
Madoff was just one of many corrupt CEO's and white collar criminals exploiting wall street. He just happened to be caught and made a public spectacle of. Unfortunately for every Madoff there are another dozen criminals who have perpetrated just as much fraud. The biggest fraud of real estate should be all the corruption of this era in its entirety.
Wall Street is full of white collar crooks who got to the top by stepping on people. Bernie Madoff was just the person who got caught because of the size of his Ponzi scheme. How many bankers and investors still get bonuses and have their jobs after the tanking of the housing market? There are plenty of frauds who still have their jobs in Wall Street who will never be touched.
I think that the greatest frauds of Wall Street are the top officers of the negligent banks which took incredible risks with others' money, sparking a significant decline in the economy and housing markets. Bernie Madoff was merely a rogue scammer who was portrayed as the face of financial fraud during the economic downturn.