Occupy message has merit

The camps will be cleaned up, the protesters will go away and the U.S. financial services industry will continue to be “too big to jail”

Now that the homeless, anarchists and kooks have taken over the “Occupy” movement and cities have begun to remove the encampments, I think it is an important time to reflect on the “Occupy” message rather than their methods.

I think the criticisms leveled at Wall Street by the protesters are completely valid and, if truth be told, these protesters don’t have a clue how bad it really is. I have worked in the investment business for 25 years and read a wide variety of intelligence reports about the financial industry. I am appalled at how brazen many in the high levels of the financial services industry have become. Not only are they “too big to fail”, they are also apparently “too big to jail”!

I could site innumerable questionable practices and straight outright felons that I see reports of weekly by those in the financial world, let alone the ones who are getting away with things undetected. Over the last 20 years, the financial services lobby has spent more than oil, transportation, cigarettes, energy etc. combined. Is there any wonder why there are 61 members in the U.S. Congressional Financial Services Committee? What politician wouldn’t want to cozy up to that trough. In emerging countries many would call this corruption, but in Washington, it’s just the way things get done.

I also notice that there are many commentators and highly respected analysts in the 1% group starting to become critical of the Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup cabal. Goldman Sachs were complicit in hiding vast amounts of Greek debt, which led to allowing Greece into the EU and created this mess we see today. Credit Default Swaps (CDS) brought down AIG and nearly triggered a depression in 2008-9 that was avoided only because of a mammoth bailout of taxpayers money. These same CDS derivatives are creating turmoil in Europe and will probably lead to another bailout at some point.

President Obama is also in for criticism as he has rolled over and let the financial services industry have their way. Former head of the Federal Reserve Paul Volker was calling a spade a spade and was turning the heat up on the corruption in Washington. He was quickly replaced by GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt as head of the president’s outside panel of economic advisers. This even though GE, one of the largest companies in the world, paid no U.S. taxes in 2010. What kind of advice is Obama getting? How to get re-elected, perhaps.

Did I support the camping out at the Vancouver Art Gallery? Not really, but I think their message is important. The fact that the media is controlled by a few super wealthy families and corporations in this country may have contributed to bias in reporting. All we see are protesters with various and sundry things attached to their faces and the drug overdoses hit the headlines. It would have terrorized the financial service industry if the public had supported the protesters and this might have forced them to become more responsible. The media made sure this wasn’t going to happen.

As it is, the camps will be cleaned up, the protesters will go away and the U.S. financial services industry will continue to be “too big to jail”.

Brian Hughes

Penticton