With much of those penalties in the past, declining leveraged ratios and a stronger economy have solidified the system, Gorman said Tuesday at the DealBook conference in New York.
Read MoreHedge funds see worst year since financial crisis
"The U.S. banking system is dramatically safer," said Gorman, who this week was named to the New York Federal Reserve board. "Let's be honest: It wasn't just the banks who messed up. There were a lot of people who tried to buy assets they couldn't afford. That's a reality."
Gorman's comments came two weeks after Morgan Stanley whiffed badly on earnings, with a decline of some 42 percent rattling investors.
Financial sector earnings more broadly have gained about 3.4 percent in the third quarter.
That's a far cry better from the dark days of the crisis. Gorman said Wall Street no longer is leveraged as badly as it was then, dropping from as much as 40 to 1 times down to 10 to 12 times.
"The risk profile of the banks is such that you'd have to be wrong 30 to 50 percent of the time," he said. "That's a completely different proposition."