Streams

The Wall Street Take on Occupy Wall Street

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Josh Brown, financial advisor and man behind the popular Reformed Broker blog, and Henry Blodget, editor in chief and CEO of Business Insider, discussed whether the conversation at Occupy Wall Street is affecting the conversation on Wall Street itself.

Anger at Wall Street, from without and within?

Could some people who work on Wall Street be as angry at the financial industry as the people occupying Wall Street? After all, it's not like everybody employed by a big bank or investment firm contributed to the 2008 meltdown, then proceeded to take home six-figure bonuses post-bailout. A lot of them got fired.

And what of those lower-level employees, perhaps unfairly lumped in with their bosses as the object of populist rage? Won't someone please think of the quantitative analysts? Or ask them to join the very protests against their employers? 

Josh Brown said it was possible.

Major banks are laying off tens of thousands of people...There is some sense that the rage is going to come from within, not from without.

But defining exactly who the protesters are angry with is as important for their long-term agenda as defining exactly what they want.

No primal scream is going to turn into anything that actually affects policy, so at a certain point the grown-ups, whether from within the movement or from politicians who want to glom on to it, someone's going to have to lay out...some sort of aim they want to achieve.

Business as usual

Brian Lehrer invited workers in the financial industry to call in and answer the criticisms from the movement. Most of the arguments were familiar: Not everyone who works on Wall Street was responsible for the collapse; the mortgage crisis was the product of social engineering at the federal level; not every bank or investment firm is "too big to fail".

But Josh Brown said those rebuttals missed the point of why protesters were angry. It's not so much about the root causes of the disaster as much as it is about the aftermath.

They see that almost no one was fired, the rules have barely changed, and they see that from the outside looking in, it's almost back to business as usual. The restaurants are packed, luxury retailers are packed, and that big difference in their lives has not been reflected in the lives of what they view as the bankers who got off scot-free.

Henry Blodget echoed Brown's point.

I think that is the hardest thing to explain to mainstream America: Yes, the banks played a huge role in getting us to the edge of the precipice, but we had no choice but to preserve the status quo.

Heading into another crisis

Protesters find a great deal of fault with the organization of the financial system in the lead-up to the crisis, the government's response, and the way profits and bonuses returned to form so quickly. But this is all old news. The greater concern is that history might be repeating itself.

Yesterday, October 3rd, the S&P 500 closed at exactly the same level it closed on October 3rd, 2008—three years ago to the day, and smack dab in the middle of the collapse. Henry Blodget said we were heading right back into a crisis with the banks, and the timing couldn't be worse.

This is happening at the exact time that the Main Street rage against the bailouts is resulting in protests...The government is in a real pickle here, if the bank stocks continue to collapse, about what they can do. If the idea were floated that there were going to be another bailout, you would have 50 million Americans march on Washington with torches and pitchforks.

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Comments [60]

John from LES

Edward (Eddie) from NJ.

I'm sorry, I was offensive and I shouldn't have been – I sincerely apologize. I did check my stub, my mistake was including 401k deductions (don't laugh).

Randi from Brooklyn.

If that's the case (qualified minorities were steered to subprime mortgages) then the injustice for those people should be corrected and those responsible face prosecution.

But isn't that the problem with social engineering - you have someone coming in and trying to right a wrong with a sweeping change. You end up with this kind of mess. Its like physical engineering - we thought we could harness the power of the great rivers and ended up putting up damns that screwed up the river's ecosystem. We gotta think these things through......

I think regulation is good, was all for the controls of Glass-Steagall (thought it wasn't a good idea when Clinton eliminated it) and the Uptick Rule (Controls on derivatives trading - removal of this is the reason there are so many more hedge funds - playing games these days). But some of the new regulations i.e. Dodd-Frank did absolutely nothing - they were better off dusting off Glass-Steagall.

Be well all.

Oct. 06 2011 10:05 AM
Hank from NJ

The problem with most marxist complainers is that they support ALL forms of immigration and offshoring and that is why we have lost so many jobs. Obama's buddy from GE who is the boss of a group appointed by the 'annointed one' to find jobs is shipping GE jobs out of the USA. So how is Obama going to increase employment if his GE buddy ships jobs out of the US? Also many complainers are too lazy to study for the good jobs or just too stupid to get a high paying job. If we sent back all the immigrants that have come to the USA in the past 10 years we would have millions more jobs available for Americans. I love the dopes who complain about executive high salaries but attend major league sports events at costs of a few hundred dollars a game to watch athletes making millions of dollars yet they endorse their high salaries when one can see just as good competition at the high school and college level.

Oct. 06 2011 08:37 AM
Randi from Brooklyn

@John from LES - No I didn't buy; I'm an accountant and I knew those mortgages were a sham. The problem with Cuomo's role in HUD is that the agency partnered with predatory lendors to give minorities subprime mortgages when at least half of minorities were qualified for normal mortgages. Why? Even when the economy is good, banks continuously deny minority neighborhoods better banking products.

@Samantha erika from NY - I'm glad your husband makes what he earns but don't look at the world through tunnel vision. There are many people who work the same hours your husband does and make less than half. The reason why so many people lived beyond their means is because their salaries aren't keeping up with the cost of living. I make a good salary, but the cost of going to the supermarket is becoming a real problem.

@Sam from Brooklyn - I completely agree... I think many financial services workers should be reminded of their bonuses from the "good years" and should be made aware of how many people don't get bonuses or received bonuses nowhere near what they received.

@Edward from NJ - Some working $150K do pay about 55% (Fed,NYS,NYC,FICA,Health Ins, Life ins, transportation,gym,etc.). But even after half is taken out that person still takes home $65K!! Most people don't even make $65K!! So to all those that complain about paying high taxes, I have a simple solution: Just make less.

Oct. 05 2011 04:06 PM
Edward from NJ

@John from LES,

If you insist on addressing me in the diminutive, I prefer Eddie not Eddy.

I could take the time to provide you with links to IRS and NYS Dept of Taxation documents showing the marginal rates for an individual making $150k, but since you're the one making absurd claims that contradict reality, I figure you need to provide the evidence. You seem to have gone ad homimen, so I assume you don't have any such evidence.

In other words, you're just making numbers up.

Oct. 05 2011 12:09 PM
linda

I was very disappointed when Brian Lehrer seemed to agree with the guest that 150,000$ on the upper east side with an eighty hour work week was a challenge for the Wall Street crowd. How about this, since they can no longer afford the high life style they do what the victims of their sleezy practices do. Sell the condo, which may or may not be under water, move, maybe even move in with your sister-in-law, stop buying organic foods and become the other 90%. then you can feel that you shared the sacrifice.

Oct. 05 2011 08:11 AM
John from LES

Eddy (NJ) - Is that all you got to offer? Pretty sad.

Oct. 04 2011 10:38 PM
samantha erika from NJ

There are two sides to every story. My husband works very long hours for a big bank. He is up at 5 am and home and 9 pm and travels far and wide for work so I really feel that he earns the money he is paid to work in the city. He sacrifices time with family, exercise etc to do his job. So people are upset that they enjoyed living on credit ... whose fault is it really ?

Oct. 04 2011 05:18 PM
sam from brooklyn, ny

While I can appreciate how no-one likes to be called out, I find the callers who are currently employed in the financial services industry to be strangely self-pitying.

Blaming everybody else and playing the victim card...it's just sad.

Oct. 04 2011 02:34 PM
Edward from NJ

I looked at my pay stub and still don't see how you get anywhere near 50% for $150k income. You're just making numbers up.

Oct. 04 2011 01:53 PM
John from LES

At least 50% - Tax(Fed/NYS/NYC), FICA/Healthcare/Misc.deductions - look at your stub.

Oct. 04 2011 12:17 PM
Edward from NJ

John from LES, I agree that $150k in NYC isn't a tremendous amount of money, but how do you get from $150k to $65k after taxes? That's a 56.67% effective tax rate. No one pays that. What are you including in that?

Oct. 04 2011 11:53 AM
John from LES

Randi from Brooklyn - You are correct, the mortgage guys should have checked as they did in the past - but did you know it was HUD under Cuomo who was forcing the banks to make loans to minorities alla the anti-redlining cause (the social engineering component)? You see how the slippery slope began? Of course it turned into an orgy - there were people who wanted houses so they could flip them or double their equity in two years (crazy! used to take 30 years to do this). The guys on Wall Street saw an opportunity, it was legal and they jumped at it.

I rent like most other people in NYC. I was watching the whole thing going on and saying how this can go on, guess I knew the answer, and now was living it. I didn't buy, did you?

To all those people squawking about $150k salaries ($65K after taxes). Really doesn't buy much in NYC - who are all these people living in coops/condos in the upper east side/west side, park slope etc. They surely don't all work on Wall Street?? What kind of money are they making to afford living in NYC........

Oct. 04 2011 11:36 AM
Carol Teitelbaum from NYC

The callers and most of the guests' commentary illustrate how out of touch and lacking in creative thinking so called "Wall Street" can be. Several callers seemed condescending toward the "protesters". Have they listened to any of the literate, intelligent, calm spoken individuals interviewed on CNN, NY1 or MSNBC? This is not a rag tag group of people. The recent rhetoric that Occupy Wall Street must present specific issues, as if many issues are not already obvious, is it manipulation or ignorance? Could they really be that clueless to what motivates people to gather in the first place? Referring to Occupy Wall Street as a "them" that needs to quantify the issues in order to be heard or respected is indicative of their resistance to cooperation, to approach the issues in a novel way, to try to think like a physicist; be open to change, acknowledge uncertainty going forward rather than reiterate public policies and opinions that are outdated, fail to serve a majority of society, and have contributed to a great deal of unnecessary suffering.

Oct. 04 2011 11:14 AM
Randi from Brooklyn

@John from LES - Its true that many borrowers - and many mortgage brokers - falsified loan applications, but it was the brokers and the banks duty to verify their income. The fact that financial institutions blindly gave away billions in mortgages is one of the main causes of this financial meltdown.

Oct. 04 2011 11:11 AM
Edward from NJ

@Eric, 700 is certainly newsworthy, but it's not the largest mass arrest in US history. The 1971 May Day protests in Washington DC resulted in over 12,000 arrests.

Oct. 04 2011 11:08 AM
John A.

Please Don't think of the 99% / 1% thing as Not being a continuum. If you are making 1000X the poverty line, you are obviously the 1%, and should be taxed more. If you are making 100X the poverty line, you should be taxed more (even though this person may be out of the 1%). If you are making 10X the poverty line, you are most definitely Out of the 1%, but still should be ready to pony up more. Its a curve called progressive taxation.

Oct. 04 2011 11:00 AM

It was reported that the arrest of 700 people on Sunday by the NYPD was the largest mass arrest in the history of the country! That's newsworthy.

Oct. 04 2011 10:53 AM
John from LES

Joe-

Your missing the point - this is not a Dem issue vs GOP issue (ie Clinton vs Bush II vs Obama), they all stink. The whole debacle started with Clinton and ran through Bush and onto Obama.

Nothing was ever mentioned in the Angelides report (look it up for yourself) about Fannie/Freddie and HUD under Cuomo. The housing bubbble that was created was the root cause for the collapse - Wall Street actions was the straw that broke the back. Trillions of dollars evaporated overnight from people who paid way too much fro their homes. Wall street didn't do that Main Street did. You have to look at the whole big picture and under all the ugly places. You can't just side with your comfort zone or what you think your world view should be. I said there was plenty of blame to go around, I wasn't pointing my finger at one area - its just what you wanted to hear.

BTW - all those people who may have falsified their loan applications could face proesecution as well, not just some CEO in a bank. (Read the fine print at the bottom of any loan form). Thats another reason this may not all go anywhere - everyone who was involved in this was corrupted.............

Oct. 04 2011 10:52 AM

I thought Josh Brown articulated the rationale for the OWS well. I suggest that Josh Brown go down for the talk the last caller described. BUT... I thought you were going to discuss the legality of the mass arrests by the NYPD on Sunday? Again, the media almost always portrays the First Amendment about speech and press protections... the First Amendment explicitely protects "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Sounds like a description of the people down on Wall. Did the NYPD learn nothing from its egregious behavior during the 2004 convention? There are reports that the NYPD infiltrates duly constituted legal organizations such as Iraqi Vets against the War, or Sierra Club.

Oct. 04 2011 10:50 AM
jawbone

Continued from below:

OK, the Uberwealthy will have an easier time on the way down, they will have their gated or out of country estates, etc., but they will lose this nation as we know it along with the rest of us.

But, while they can gate their estates, they can't control effects of global warming affecting their environment. They can buy air conditioning for a good long while, but not forever. They can maintain their private airplanes and copters, but what about when carbon based fuels run really low?

We are in this together on this planet.

Oct. 04 2011 10:45 AM
jawbone

Re: Wall Street company employees making $40-50K plus a $2K or so "bonus":

They're definitely included in the 99 Percent the Occupy Wall Street protesters are trying to represent. It is not the bottom 50% (or, as John implied, the bottom 30% who took our "irresponsible" mortgages --and who is in charge of issuing mortgages? Oh, yeah, banksters! And, in better cases, bankers-- who brought down the financial underpinnings of the economy. It was the Wall Street Gang Banksters who set up fraudulently valued mortgage backed securities and then played gambling games, while lying to the buyers of the financial instruments, the credit default whatevers. Then, some of the Big Banksters got burned, got rescued by the taxpayers.

Ah, sweet lemon socialism: Profits privatized, losses socialized.

Also, John may not realize it, but wealth has been increasingly flowing upward to to the Top One Percent, and even faster and in larger amounts to the Tippy Top Point One Percenters.

The middle class and working classes have seen their buying power eroded steadily since the late '70's and Reagan years. First, women going back to work kept families afloat, then taking loans from their housing values kept them going while also putting them deeper in debt.

That could not continue, cannot continue, especially as the number of unemployed is extremely high and they're staying unemployed for much longer periods of time. (I think I read somewhere that the length of unemployment is now longer than during the Great Depression....)

When great amounts of money are concentrated in the hands of very few, they holders of those vast funds tend to take more chances, push for huge returns, often on dicey schemes. They also can buy the politicians to keep their money in their hands and direct more wealth to their hands.

Now, the guy from OWS is discussing the underlying issue, that there has been a systemic --economic and social system of our entire economy and nation-- change which favors those with large wealth.

And we are turning into a Banana Republic, with a very small echelon of extreme wealth living removed from the vast numbers of the population. They have a small (and growing smaller) coterie of professional level workers who increasingly are there to cater to their needs. Other professionals, as we know them, those who serve the masses of the 99%, are being pressured to live on less and less. Their work is valued less because it does not cater to the Uberwealthy.

Only bodies in the streets will impress the Powers That Be enough to get them to allow changes. And if they do not do so, we will all go down together.

Cont'd

Oct. 04 2011 10:44 AM
Edward from NJ

A Wall Street worker making 150K is part of the 99%. Just saying...

Oct. 04 2011 10:44 AM
barry from nyc

The upside for wall street execs to help shape the message is a healthy economy and country. Help shape Americas future!

Oct. 04 2011 10:43 AM
Tim from Brooklyn

I think the Occupy Wall Street protests may be a reflection of people's feeling that they have lost their voice in government over to corporate interests, symbolized by Wall Street. When the protesters agree on an agenda, I think it should be two pronged: (1) pass a constitutional amendment refuting the legal fallacy that corporations have first amendment rights (including speech); and (2) pass mandatory public campaign funding legislation to get corporate money out of our politics. It's time to put people first.

Oct. 04 2011 10:43 AM
RJ from prospect hts

There's a few things not mentioned by a few of the Wall Street people who have spoken:
* Making a distinction between what was done on Wall St and the housing bubble is false, as it was those mortgages that were bundled into CDOs by the financial firms, so they are intimately connected.
* Citigroup and Travelers were allowed to merge before it was legal with a nod and wink without any consequences.
* There's a difference between traders (and other midlevel income earners) and janitors, unlike what one of the callers suggested.
* The "midlevel" Wall Streeters who take in a few hundred thousands a year have not joined their voices (see Buffett et al) to say that they have gone back to pre-2008 levels while the number of foreclosures has continued to increase and that that's a bit of a problem.
* They have not helped their janitors organize (don't cross picket lines, buy food for them, etc.) into unions to raise their incomes or preserve their rights to organize--nor have they organized to help themselves not be subject to the vagaries of Wall Street.
* Isn't it those midlevel Wall Street workers who don't give out loans to small businesses? I have trouble seeing Lloyd Blankfein making a list of homes to foreclose on.

Oct. 04 2011 10:41 AM
Edward from NJ

@Joe from Jersey, Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall which was a major step towards deregulation. There's plenty of blame for Bush to take, but Clinton is not entirely innocent.

Oct. 04 2011 10:37 AM
lizzy yoder from EV

To the former (?) investment banker who was sympathizing with the "struggling" wall streeters making 150k a year who are having "trouble" keeping up with their lifestyle on the UWS: NO ONE CARES. Not being able to afford a summer house or private school or an apt in Manhattan is NOT a problem. How dare you even try and make a case. Do you realize what is going on? People are losing everything-- meaning they are living in poverty. Head above water is what we are talking about. Not water front property.

Oct. 04 2011 10:33 AM
vincent from brooklyn

They should be instead protest against the president and congress they voted for, which has kept the existing law in place after the crash. The Democrat party has been the problem for not pushing the changes needed. But since the protester themselves are mostly likely demarcates, they can't really protest against a democrat president.

Oct. 04 2011 10:31 AM
Adam from listening online from Forest City, NC

I am a 33 year old FORMER wall street employee, currently unemployed, since March. I spent 11 years on the street working in areas specific to derivatives and hedgefunds, the things that are now dirty words on the job front. My reaction toward the protests is in solidarity with the ideas though some hesitation in how they are presented only because of my cynisism on what can be accomplished with protest movements. In my view until people goto jail and there is a real hardline stance taken against executives this might be an empty protest that really just takes advantage of the nice fall NYC weather. (Is it too early to whisper what a great prossecutor Spizter was and could have been)
Ive since left the financial industry completely with an awful taste in my mouth from the mindset of indiviuals I worked with and thier lack of sensitivity and compassion. My wife and I are living in the coutry in NC restoring a 100 year old farm and bringing back something of real worth to my community. As opposed to figuring out how to make spreadsheets turn your PNL green

Oct. 04 2011 10:30 AM

The caller who said that no one understood the CDOs/CDS, etc. is idiotic.

It's very easy, they took the same idea that busted the S&Ls and sliced & diced by computer, but instead of just selling them on to Wall ST, selling them worldwide.

The pseudo-CDs, etc are the real super fraud since it's already been admitted that those items had no collateral backing them.

Oct. 04 2011 10:29 AM
john from Ridgefield Park, NJ

This is crazy. Write on one hand: "Less regulation is the answer." On the other hand: "Sure, what happened may not have been the best thing, but it wasn't illegal." No clap those hands together and applaud yourself. Then take those hands and stick your bonus in your , uh, pocket.

Oct. 04 2011 10:29 AM
Jay from NJ from Summit NJ

I am so glad that the former bankers are calling in so that more of the population can see what la-la land they exist in. 80 stressful hours and making 150K! Talk to the minimum wage person piecing together 40k a year with 2 or 3 parttime jobs with NO health insurance.

Oct. 04 2011 10:28 AM
Fishmael from NYC

puh-leez, please stop with the "80 stressful hours a week" for investment bankers - they do this by choice!

80 stressful hours a week is the cleaning lady with a second job and a couple kids, struggling to keep her head above water.

This is the problem, people!!!

Oct. 04 2011 10:28 AM
George from Westchester

I agree that eventually some focus needs to be formed or the movement risks losing form and may slip into a state of inertia. However, to my mind the list of grievences is a long, long list. Most of the issues I hear mentioned, student loans, unemplyment etc.. are resultants of the bigger issue that undelines the anger and all these secondary and tertiary issues, that being that the populace has been marginalized and have and continue to be taken advantrage of. Wall Street is at the center of the problem. Perhaps the entire issue can be seen through the the Citizens United verdict where companies were awarded personal rights. In politics where, unfortunately, money rules that decision gives non- human interests a huge upper hand in forming our laws. Perhaps the fact that such a verdict was rendered says it all.

Oct. 04 2011 10:28 AM
Joe from Jersey

Question for "John" from GoldmanSachs:
If all of these problems really started under Clinton (as you claim), then WHY did the crash happen under Bush?
Was it Clinton who called off the regulators so Wall street could run amok and lay waste to our economy?
Or was it BUSH?

Oct. 04 2011 10:26 AM
John Baker from brooklyn

Why is the President excluded from the protestor's anger? Obama lined his cabinet with the Clinton economic team. These people were responsible for deregulation!

Oct. 04 2011 10:26 AM
grace from Brooklyn

I think the gentleman who just cited the fact that mailroom workers at goldman make "just" 40,000-50,000 a year with a $2000 bonus just tipped his hand as to how out of touch wall street is with the rest of america. That is much more than many people who work several jobs are making, and they don't get health insurance, much less bonuses.

Oct. 04 2011 10:25 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

I think what many involved with the protest don/t understand is that many of us are just workers down here that are employed in the financial industry. The ones that they are angry with are located all over the world, not necessarily down here. My thought is the best that they can do to get the message to the real shakers of Wall Street is to hope the press get more involved and circulate their message.

In general, we are in agreement with the philosophy of denouncing greed. However, they appear to be attacking capitalism in general; and no matter what they do, that will never die.

Initially (the first week) they seemed to lack cohesion with their message. It seemed as though a plethora of different issues were being voiced leaving the listeners a bit confused as to what exactly was going on with that. But, I believe the message is clarifying itself.

I would say that it is probably divided halfway for those who support their message and those who don't. There are still those down here that don't realize that the polarization of funds caused by catering to the wealthy is what is destroying the global economies. There are others that agree with the protesters in that they have the understanding that money needs to be distributed more evenly causing less wealth disparity. Then, and only then, will we start to see the economy improve.

Oct. 04 2011 10:25 AM
Barbara from Brooklyn

This blame shifting to 'social engineering' by business leaders is laughable.
It is all about money. And how to make as much money as possbile.
The faux solidarity with our 'guys in the mai lroom' on The Street argument is bogus.
The real story? Investment banking and Hedge Funds will make as much $$ at any cost. It is all about making money NOW--25% returns. The rest of us are economic road kill.

Oct. 04 2011 10:25 AM
Marc from Brooklyn

We've heard that Wall Street has failed -- which it has. We've heard that government regulation has failed -- which it has. What we haven't heard is how borrowers themselves -- from governments, corporations, home buyers, even credit card holders -- have failed in their basic duty to watch their bottom line, and not borrow more than they can reasonably expect to pay back. They number in the tens of millions. Why no mention of them?

Oct. 04 2011 10:25 AM
Jay from NJ

I recall sloppy, lazy, perhaps corrupted SEC monitoring, investigation and regulatory applications during and since the time of these financial crashes... what's being done about that?

Oct. 04 2011 10:24 AM
Adrienne

No one wants to blame the guys working in the mailroom. We are talking the big CEOs and politicians who enable them and benefit from them.

Oct. 04 2011 10:24 AM
steve from Manhattan

Josh Brown needs to further educate himself to the reality of the Wall Street Occupation -- his understanding is hardly what I see and experience when I'm in Liberty (Zuccotti) Park. He is invited to come down and look at the prominently displayed list of concerns and why we are so mad, invited to read the Occupied Wall Street Journal, and invited to talk to people and most of all to listen to people down there. Maybe then he won't be quite so patronizing...

Oct. 04 2011 10:24 AM
John A.

Go, Steve, go.
Of course, the liberty to modify English is a privilege for the rich. My favorite is random pluralization: 'The Treasury is' ... 'The Treasury are'. Oh, excuse me. It's 'Treasury are ...'.

Oct. 04 2011 10:24 AM
Raul Rothblatt from Prospect Place

The people protesting are on the side of the analyst making $60,000 while his or her boss earns $60,000,000. The top earners are not THAT much more talented than the analysts. It's not in the interest of the shareholders or the employees or the community for certain people to earn outrageous salaries at the expense of the other 99% of the population.

Oct. 04 2011 10:23 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

The problem with sub-prime mortgages smoldered for three years before catching fire. It took six months of $4/g gasoline to cause the bonfire that brought down the banking system as homeowners who needed 2 or 3 vehicles to make their lifestyles work were caught in a squeeze between commuting and paying the mortgage. There is a difference between cause and proximal cause, why doe no one else see this?
Today's youth are mad because the buy-in price to the middle class, e.g. a BA degree at an accredited university, has held even with the overall growth in the economy (16X 1968 levels) while incomes have only tracked with inflation (6.5x).

Oct. 04 2011 10:23 AM
same old story from Crown Heights

My relative who is a teller at Bank of America said most of the 30,000 or so that were laid-off were middle management. Do you think this is a sign of BOA cleaning house? It smells like one of those situations where someone takes the blame for upper management greed-mongers who really caused the problem and set the bank policies in the first place. The same thing happens all the time in other businesses.

Oct. 04 2011 10:22 AM
Em

Jeez, you had a quant call in from Goldman Sachs and say "poor me" ???? The quants are the enablers - they wrote the algorithms that allowed all this to go interstellar. Give me a break. This is just the kind of denial and self delusion that's the root of this problem.

Oct. 04 2011 10:22 AM
Sara from Brooklyn, NY

Your guest has no idea what he is talking about.

"There are some very uneducated people down there" who don't know what happened to them? They have no clear list of demands?

Brian, this is two days in a row that you have failed to call out your guest on these inaccuracies.

Find clear, articulate demands here:
http://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-please-help-editadd-so-th/

Also, take a moment to read some of the General Assembly meeting notes and then see if you can call the protesters uneducated:
http://nycga.cc/2011/09/28/general-assembly-minutes-928-730pm/#more-734

Oct. 04 2011 10:22 AM
NY from Brooklyn

As a young dreamer and wall street occupier, I am not mad at the mail room guys the first caller mentioned- but I would love to be able to make 50K doing anything.

I think it's a reflection of the Wall Street mindset that 50K is seen as not that much money when there are thousands of us scraping by doing three different jobs just to make ends meet- with a BA from a respected school.

Oct. 04 2011 10:22 AM
Ken from Little Neck

I think the caller was making an important point, but didn't realize it himself. He said that him and many people like him on Wall St. weren't making the kind of money that people seem to think they are - it's only the big executives. I think that hits the nail on the head precisely! An incredibly tiny amount of people are controlling the vast majority of wealth in the country and continuing to run the economy for the benefit of themselves and themselves alone.

Oct. 04 2011 10:22 AM
RL from the bowery

we can't stop companies from giving bonuses, we can only tax them into oblivian until they are not worth giving. please, i want change, but we can't go back to trying to force the same changes that couldn't pass 2 years ago. we need new thinking; not going back to the anger of 2 years ago.

Oct. 04 2011 10:21 AM
Fishmael from NYC


Truth is in the numbers:

Number of protesters arrested so far: 700+

Number of financial managers/CEOs held accountable to date: ???

Oct. 04 2011 10:20 AM
Jennifer from FLushing, NY

I work in the Publishing Dept. of one of the big three credit rating agencies and I support the Occupy Wall Street message. Nothing has changed in the industry. Financial reform is a joke. The only thing that has changed is there is more paperwork. The rating agencies still get paid by those they rate so there is no incentive to be objective. The Mortgage backed securties market is back. We have more work than ever in our dept. but the workers we lost in the downturn have not been replaced. Support services workers like myself are expected to do more. I now do the work that I used to share with two other people. I feel so bad for young people today. They have so much more debt when they graduate than I did in 1993. I can tell you boat loads are cash are being made in the student loan securities market. Setting us up for another bubble.

Oct. 04 2011 10:18 AM
Paul from manhattan

Too big to fail isn't really the issue. Keeping the status quo isn't either.

The bailout came with out any restrictions. The government bailed out the banks, but there should have been controls so they couldn't do "business as usual"

There should have been restrictions on layoffs in wallstreet and restrictions on bonuses

Oct. 04 2011 10:17 AM
Nancy from Harlem

A primal scream can't change politics? Ever hear of the so-called Tea Party?

Oct. 04 2011 10:16 AM
Steve from A grammar prison of my own making

I implore you ... please, please, please ... stop using the phrase "the fact that"; it is utterly superfluous and, often, does not pertain at all to facts.

Also, I'd love to hear "expound" rather than "expand" when seeking greater detail from a respondent. And, finally, I'm most tired of hearing "less" where "fewer" should be used. Not less riders. Fewer riders. Not less options. Fewer options. Fewer dollars. Less money. Come on, people.

Oh, please don't use "irony" to describe something coincidental, either. "Life-saving helicopter mission crashes, four die" ... that's irony. It's not ironic to run into some obscure celebrity on the street the day after talking about them.

Oct. 04 2011 10:16 AM
John A.

OK, suppose Glass-Steigal comes back. How are they going to take it?

Oct. 04 2011 10:15 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Just an FYI from today's Morning Edition, Bill Frezza, venture capitalist and fellow at the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute speaking about how the "idea that creating jobs leads to growth and prosperity is a fallacy" and how "the jobs myth is at the heart of the nation's unemployment problems":

"...So there are lots of ways to create jobs as your goal, and if do more to hurt the economy than you will do to help it...

Let's think about job-creators: What are those peoples' lives like right now? Well they're all making more than $250K a year, whether they're running a small business or they're an executive in a company, and they've been declared Public Enemy #1 [note: not the rap group with Chuck D and Flav]. They've been told they're taxes have to go up, they're the one that have to bear the brunt of the cost of regulatory compliance costs, so they've been whipping boy now - lumped in, by the way, with hedge fund moguls and the criminals on Wall Street - all been put into one big pie and been told that they're the problem.

"...Why would those people run out and try to risk their business by hiring more?"

"...I would absolutely say that the businessmen in the culture today have become whipping boys, we've seen this before in the Great Depression and we had the same result last time."

I will note that he separates "job-creators" from the Wall Street crowd, but here you have it - the naked ideological line in the sand from the libertarian/Ayn Rand/Neoliberal perspective. Clearly business owners are strictly about business, but the "whipping boys" is at the heart of the real economic and ideological debate.

http://www.npr.org/2011/10/04/141033128/venture-capitalist-cautions-against-job-creation-myths#commentBlock

Oct. 04 2011 10:14 AM
Sam from sam

I just have a simple question for the Wall St. CEOs: who are you doing any good for? Why should you be the most well-paid workers in the world?...are you really doing the most good in the world? If you in fact aren't, come down to the rat race with the rest of us.

Oct. 04 2011 10:13 AM

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