What OWS Tells Us About Mike Bloomberg

Monday, November 07, 2011

WNYC political analyst, longtime New York Times political writer and author of Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, Joyce Purnick, discusses Mayor Bloomberg's response to Occupy Wall Street. And Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone on Mike Bloomberg's analysis of the financial meltdown.


Joyce Purnick

Comments [40]

Amy from Manhattan

Bloomberg's a firm supporter of free speech? The same Bloomberg who tried to restrict protestors to "free speech zones" during the Republican National Convention in 2004?

Nov. 08 2011 12:23 AM

rprp2, the bigger question is: Would any lending institution, be it semi-private like Fannie, or private like the banks, give out loans that they knew were not secured if they didn't think that the Federal government would cover them (i.e., bail them out) when things finally imploded (which was inevitable)?

I would think not. Private banks, in particular, want some sort of strong loan security (either an income source, e.g., job, business, or collateral) before they will lend an individual money. There had to be something in the financial system that was signalling to all of the lending institutions that it was okay to ignore standard (good) business practices when it came to lending money.

The banks NEVER should have been bailed out. The good news is that the majority of the U.S. population was against the bailouts. Too bad "our" representatives in Congress didn't represent the voice of the people, but instead represented the voice of the big money interests (as usual).

Nov. 07 2011 03:26 PM

Bloomberg is either lying about what he believes was the cause of the financial collapse (not good!) or really ignorant about the cause (also not good.( The claim that the financial collapse was caused by "forcing" banks to lend to low-income borrowers is a page from the conservative propaganda book. The overwhelming majority of sub-prime loans were made by private lenders, not by Fannie and Freddie. Government policy to encourage loans to low-income borrowers did not dictate the rampant and reckless practice of mortgage lenders, who lied and committed fraud, It was the banks that guaranteed and securitized huge quantities of subprime loans, and lied about what they were selling. (Fannie Mae actually lost market share because it chose not to “participate in large amounts of these non-traditional mortgages in 2004 and 2005” because it “determined that the pricing offered for these mortgages often was insufficient compensation for the additional credit risk associated with these mortgages.” As economist Dean Baker stated, “Fannie and Freddie got into subprime junk and helped fuel the housing bubble, but they were trailing the irrational exuberance of the private sector….In short, while Fannie and Freddie were completely irresponsible in their lending practices, the claim that they were responsible for the financial disaster is absurd on its face—kind of like the claim that the earth is flat.” - In testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld acknowledged that Fannie and Freddie’s role in Lehman’s demise was “de minimis,” or so small that it does not matter.

Nov. 07 2011 02:26 PM
Joe B from Brooklyn

David, John and others....

As you challenge Mr. Taibbi for blaming Wall Street accounting for the culpability of Government, you seem to forget the basic issue at hand:

Wall Street Owns The Government.

Where do you think the influence came from? You think George Bush allowed Fredie and Fanny to issue subprime mortgages for 7 years out of pity for the poor and the unfortunate?

The real cause of this crisis wasn't government benevolence. It was unbridled greed pure and simple.

Nov. 07 2011 01:38 PM

I agree with the other listener about Joyce Purnick - she really does have a superior (and anachronistic?) air about her which makes her opinions hard to consider -

Nov. 07 2011 01:35 PM

john from office = clueless

no one gets hurt until cops show-up.

simple. period.

Nov. 07 2011 12:32 PM
John from LES - Manhattan

Thank you David for that resource. Here's a another book I found very enlightening:

The Great American Bank Robbery: The Unauthorized Report About What Really Caused the Great Recession by Paul Sperry

Nov. 07 2011 11:54 AM

John from LES: You are correct, John, Here's an excellent book that discusses the government's culpability in the housing bubble.

Nov. 07 2011 11:29 AM

I should make it clear that I meant if Matt were against the Bankster bailouts, then good for him.

Nov. 07 2011 11:00 AM
Chris from Greenpoint

The mayor's comment regarding the protesters main methods being to complain is disingenuous or at least sorely ill-informed. In the last week I have begun participating very actively in meetup groups and General Assemblies at OWS and have discovered that the main thrust of these conversations is about improving our democracy and creating a more fair and peaceful world. The movement has been incredibly successful as an awareness-raising vehicle, directing the global conversation towards these often-disregarded issues. Further, direct, participatory, consensus-based democracy is being practiced beautifully on a constant basis. Yes, there are loud cheers and complaints. These have their place! But there are also constant meetings and discussion groups going on in many indoor and outdoor locations in which not only details of park operations, but also larger ideals of non-violence, economic fairness, empowering marginalized voices, community outreach, etc. are explored with in-depth, compassionate, and intelligent conversations. The movement goes way deeper than waving posters!

Nov. 07 2011 10:51 AM
John from LES - Manhattan

Matt Taibbi is being disingenuous in his comments and his journalistic integrity has been compromised - in my eyes, based on his comments this morning. Mike Bloomburg's comments are correct. The economic debacle of the last several years had its root cause on the subprime mortgages creating the trillion dollar housing bubble. Under the Clinton administration HUD secretary Andrew Cuomo and the US Justice Department sued banks under the Fair Housing Act, forcing them to make loans in "redline areas". Fannnie/Freddie were co-opted by both Clinton and Bush Administrations to become the source of these loans. This resulted in the 10 year housing bubble 1997-2007, and Wall street's unregulated feeding frenzy in the creation of those exotic instruments. The housing bubble crash would have happened regardless of Wall Street, the true reason our economy has not recovered is because the housing bubble resulted a trillion dollar housing market evaporating overnight. Wall Street has just become the patsy.

Did Clinton try to create change through social engineering - Yes; Was the crash exacerbated by Wall Street's loss of control (gov't lack of regulation) - Yes; Did Bush 43 have culpability for not reigning this in - Yes; Is Matt Taibbi hiding these facts - Yes. Why?? Matt please respond.

You can't continue suppressing one side of the story to meet whatever your political or world view goals are. There are those of us who know the whole story and where things have been buried nad it isn't going to go away - because its only going to get worse. The truth is out there...... and it will come out.

Nov. 07 2011 10:45 AM

Kristin's cheer illustrates what a farcical festival this is. Not Very serious thinking going on down there, but gosh they are having fun.

Nov. 07 2011 10:44 AM

I do agree with Matt that the banks were just as much a part of the housing debacle as Fannie and Freddie were, but I have two issues for Matt:

1) Unless he can show that at the time the Banksters were giving out these mortgages to high risk customers and selling CDOs they were involved in anything actually illegal, then stating that the Banksters should be arrested is ridiculous and just a matter of grandstanding on the part of Matt.

2) Was Matt for or against the bank bailouts? If he was, then good for him. If not, then he is just in favor of perpetuating a problem that will never be fixed regardless of how much more regulation he believes is needed to prevent this from happening again. (It will happen again, by the way, no matter how much regulation is put in place now.)

If you want to understand why the Banks get away with what they do (and why the "99%" continue to see their standards of living lowered as time goes on), I would suggest you read the following two books:

Nov. 07 2011 10:41 AM

Glad matt feels that the difficulty people who live near the park, and the businesses that have been negatively impacted have experienced is a small price to pay. You can tell it's not his neighborhood, and btw, I'm glad the homeless are benefitting from this protest. I have worked with them for years and most of them have had terrible life hands dealt to them...certainly worst than those who feel their student loans should be forgiven, and they should benefit from the largesse of those giving to the movement.

Nov. 07 2011 10:39 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

Bloomberg's interests are totally in-line w wall st interests--it's not just how he has made his money, but how he continues to make money from his Bloomberg companies that is impt.
From my pov, a public school parent, he is giving away the store of city/public monies to outside contractors-- his cronies, with uneven results, little real oversight and dubious proven value. NYC School system has a $23 billion budget. The "need" to not rehire 2,100 retiring teachers equals less than 1/2% of $23B. While crying "cuts" he has increased $ for central admin and outside testing services. How does this help the classroom teachers and our children, when class sizes rise?

Nov. 07 2011 10:34 AM
FU2 from NYC

I know alot of the protesters. The reason why bloomberg hasnt gone nazi on them is because he knows that they are mostly trust fund kids and the spawn of those like him. Rich kids who can afford to miss school and live in a park. JUST IMAGINE IF IT WAS A BUNCH OF BLACKS OR LATINOS PROTESTING THE EXACT SAME THING...DO YOU THINK THIS JEWISH MAYOR WOULD HAVE SHOWN SUCH RESTRAINT?

Nov. 07 2011 10:33 AM
Kristin Arnesen from Greenpoint and Liberty Park

I'm with a radical cheerleading squad with Occupy Wall Street. Here's our new comedic cheer about our relationship with Bloomberg. You'll have to imagine the choreography and pom poms:

Hey Mike, kiss my ass!
You need to take an occupation class
Listen here now, this is the rule: 
Don't ever try to take us for fools!
"Cleaning," "fire risk," "reasonable use"
What will be your next excuse?
Milk, milk, lemonade, round the corner fudge is made
In other words you little twit,
We think that's all a load of sh--
This is an occupation, not a picnic boy
We see right through your little ploys  
You serve the rich and leave the poor,
Well we're not gonna take it anymore
We're here for change
We're here to stay 
So get the f--k on board or go away!

Nov. 07 2011 10:32 AM
Farrish Carter from New York City

A photographer was attacked in front of me, my boyfriend was attacked by a mentally ill resident and then I was attacked for taking pictures yesterday afternoon.  If this movement does not get control of this square, it will destroy itself.  See a picture of the bloodied photographer on my blog if you doubt my story...

Nov. 07 2011 10:30 AM
Orin from Queens

I think Mike is the best mayor that a city like NY can hope for, but I never voted for him solely because of his support for anti-Constitutional, illegal police state tactics used against protesters during the RNC convention. Maybe his motivation now is financial -- the illegal tactics he deployed then are causing the taxpayers legal costs, (while the perpetrators are not punished) and he prides himself on fiscal responsibility.

Nov. 07 2011 10:30 AM
Brian from Hoboken

To those who lump Bloomberg in with the bankers, you are way off base. The man has actually created a successful company that contributes to the economy, employs thousands of people, and mad a lot of other people besides himself wealthy. The finance people on Wall Street like the GS traders simply split up risk, sold those assets as risk-free knowin they were junk, then bet their own money against that junk. Then they took taxpayers money and eventually gave themselves huge bonuses. All while never creating a single physical item, unlike Bloomberg LP.
Lastly he is partially right about the government pushing mortgages to borderline applicants. I worked in the mortgage business and can tell you that the Community Reinvesment Act definitely contributed to te number of loans being given in bad areas for investment to bad applicants. But Fannie and Freddie paid the lenders more for these loans as an inducement to lend.

Nov. 07 2011 10:29 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I agree that as long as the protestors are law abiding and non-violent, and keep the areas from becoming major health risks, they should be allowed to protest as the constitution allows.

The fact is that the protests are nothing but expressions of pain from people hurt for an economy that has tanked. As in most economic crises, the reasons why it tanked are varied and much of the responsibility has to do with the irresponsible actions of many of the people who participated in the whole economic charade of the last 30 odd years. Including many who took loans that were too good to be true, rudely awakened when the truth hit them in the face.

Nov. 07 2011 10:29 AM
Li Po

Joyce Purnick's derision for the OWS movement is despicable. She should not be a panelist.

Nov. 07 2011 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I agree that as long as the protestors are law abiding and non-violent, and keep the areas from becoming major health risks, they should be allowed to protest as the constitution allows.

The fact is that the protests are nothing but expressions of pain from people hurt for an economy that has tanked. As in most economic crises, the reasons why it tanked are varied and much of the responsibility has to do with the irresponsible actions of many of the people who participated in the whole economic charade of the last 30 odd years. Including many who took loans that were too good to be true, rudely awakened when the truth hit them in the face.

Nov. 07 2011 10:28 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!


Is your standard seriously to compare with hoe the police in Oakland handled it???? Seriously, is your bar so low that the standard is the equivalent of: "He's doing a good job because he hasn't trampled on their rights through a violent crackdown"? Seriously????

Anyone with any sense knows that Bloomberg's restraint is political only and not because he respects free speech or civil disobedience.

Nov. 07 2011 10:27 AM
Jean from Manhattan

I am a liberal, but I agree also with the Mayor's restraint of the NYPD and overt support of free speech. Bloomberg is the only Republican I have ever voted for, and so far, I'd vote for him again. New York is not really a regular city. It's more like a third world country in some ways, and it needs a quasi-dictator to make it work. Rudy did it, and Mike carried it on. I guess many earlier mayors like LaGuardia and even before found a solution to walk the many tightropes stretched across NYC.

Nov. 07 2011 10:27 AM
john from office

If not for the police presense there would be violence. Go there and look at the crowd.

Nov. 07 2011 10:26 AM
Bruce from Jackson Heights

I agree with your guests. Bloomberg would love to roust OWS. The only thing that prevents him from doing it is the optics and his concern for his legacy.

Nov. 07 2011 10:26 AM
blume from nyc

okay so he illustrates the point: how important government regulation is!!! if he says, it is the fault of congress that got us into this ditch then let congress step up, be firm now about regulating banks and get us out!!! my opinion is this is such a big sophisticated mess, it is impossible to place blame in any one direction (which in effect has led to an 'occupy wall street' the icon needed to vent anger and frustration ..

Nov. 07 2011 10:25 AM
Rusty Dab

It isn't at all surprising that Bloomberg is critical of the protestors; he is after all, a rich businessman and, of course, has great ideological commitment to capitalism and the ways of Wall Street. The real story is why does he tolerate the protestors at all? Why does he and other liberal politicians give any support to the occupy movement? Only a short time ago they would have just sent the police in and put an end to it.

Nov. 07 2011 10:25 AM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

There is a difference between Mayor Bloomberg currently wanting to be perceived as supporting Occupy Wall Street’s free speech rights and his actually doing so. Three things to note:

1.) He already shifted to saying that he doesn’t think what the protesters are doing constitutes free speech.

2.) There was the coordination with Brookfield Properties on the earlier attempted eviction of the protesters. Diana Taylor, Bloomberg’s live-in girlfriend is on Brookfield board.

3.) There is also the REBNY (Real Estate Board) initiative to retroactively change the law respecting Zucotti Park in order to evict the protestors.

For more on this from Noticing New York see:

Saturday, October 22, 2011
Occupy Wall Street and the Banks- Messages From Bonnie & Clyde, “They’ve Got Too Much Money”: Ownership of the Public Forum by the Wealthy?

Nov. 07 2011 10:24 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Bloomberg is annoyed because OWS is not controlled by his version of bourgeois, paternalistic version of social engineering, typical of an over-controlling benevolent philanthropist - reflected in his public policy and urban planning the last 9 years.

Nov. 07 2011 10:22 AM
Ken from Little Neck

I have to (grudgingly) give the mayor credit for the way he has handled the protests. He clearly has no affinity or interest for them or their message, which he shouldn't, seeing as he's pretty much everything they're protesting against. Despite that, he's stood up for their right to assemble and speak their mind, and he deserves credit for that.

Bottom line, Bloomberg understands one thing and one thing only: money. Nothing else matters to him. He doesn't like the protesters because they're not rich enough to have earned his respect.

Nov. 07 2011 10:20 AM

Bloomberg can cultivate a "centrist" image because the right wing in the United States is so violently conservative.

Nov. 07 2011 10:18 AM
Colin from Brooklyn

Wall Street is the city's primary tax base not because that's somehow the natural order of things. It became that way because of policies created by every crummy Bloomberg-like mayor the city has been stuck with since the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Guys like Bloomberg would really like to pretend there's nothing we can do about it, but that's not the case.

Nov. 07 2011 10:17 AM
Amy from paris

Yes, Fannie and Freddie played a role. This is what happens when you treat government like a business. They are governmetn sponsored entities that respond to the demands of shareholders, meaning they're only goal became PROFIT instead of public service. And they are backed up by taxpayers. That is why it is ridiculous for politicians to tout their business skills when they say "government should be run like a business."

Nov. 07 2011 10:16 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Bloomberg has a point about congress's role and ultimate liability to a certain extent but banks were not "forced" - they wanted to and lobbied for - the right to make dubious loans.

Nov. 07 2011 10:15 AM
paul feinberg

What's new? The mayor has proven to be a shameless liar for years.

Nov. 07 2011 10:14 AM

I'm astonished that people think that Bloomberg's supposed business acumen qualifies him to do anything (other than make money).

He is dead wrong — dead wrong — on the origins of the mortgage and banking crisis.

He is utterly utterly wrong. Greg David is also dead wrong.

Both of these people have _repeatedly_ been informed, often at great length, about the causes of the crisis. That they continue to repeat things they _know_ to be false tells us they are lying with malice aforethought.

To the extent that the government is responsible, it is conservatives, Reaganites, and Clinton neo-liberals who fought for deregulation — under tremendous pressure and reassurances from the banking industry.

The banking industry lobbied for years for deregulation.

To pretend that the banking industry bears no responsibility is a vicious, calculated lie.

Nov. 07 2011 10:13 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Bloomberg is full of it on this one; I'd like to hear him address the issues Taibbi raised in his recent book, "Griftopia" -- it's chilling.

Great job Mr. Taibbi!

Nov. 07 2011 10:13 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Obviously, Bloomberg's "support" for OWS' right to assemble has been technical and not at all inspired. From the beginning he has been dismissive of OWS' concerns, displaying the kind of condescension, delusion and self-glorification too prevalent amongst his class -- like when he admonished OWS for legitimately criticizing the banks lest they not "lend to us", thereby invoking a kind of extortion.
Like almost all of our politicians and members of the investor class, he has been content to not at all address the fundamental issue of excessive and increasing wealth/ income disparity, until OWS and others brought it to the forefront. He and all the others need to be called out for this.
If we continue to elect these kinds, will we deserve what we get?

Nov. 07 2011 10:07 AM

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