Wall Street is only a factor, as fossil fuel companies have actively opposed renewable energy - causing the political climate to work against installing solar panels.
Even the best technologies need money to bring them to market. Yet instead of investing in the science and engineering that might improve the world, “ever-larger amounts of credit have been created to trade existing assets such as real estate rather than productive investments,” Dr Max Jerneck of the Stockholm School of Economics notes in Science Advances. Jerneck argues that this explains why Japan was so much more successful at establishing a photovoltaic panel manufacturing industry than the US.
American solar pioneers were bought up by financial conglomerates, Jerneck reports, but their equivalents in Japan were not. When difficult times stuck, solar divisions had low priority and were shut down or sold internationally, leaving US manufacturing lacking champions.
With so much more sunlight, at least in some states, the US had a competitive advantage over most other industrial nations when the solar industry began, since manufacturers could be close to likely installation sites. Much of the early research and development was American as well, particularly to power satellites, but all this counted for nothing when the money dried up.