Counterparties: Occupy Wall Street’s Second Act

By Ben Walsh
April 26, 2012

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Occupy Wall Street is not calling May 1 a comeback. After bringing income inequality and economic fairness to the national conversation, the group’s organizers tell Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones that the demonstrations in 40 cities will be the “big kickoff of phase 2 of Occupy”.

In New York, Occupy will start May 1 in Bryant Park, before marching to Union Square and ending with a 5:30 p.m. march on Wall Street. Additional demonstrations could also shut down subways, tunnels, bridges and the NYSE.

But beyond greater numbers and bolder national action – like possibly attempting to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge – it’s unclear what precisely the second phase of OWS will look like. The organization has successfully focused its message at times, as its highly technical yet well-argued comment letter to the SEC on the Volcker Rule showed. But even if a bullet-pointed plan would capture short-term media credibility, this is still a movement built on the idea of protest-as-message.

If Occupy is searching for a way back into broader relevance, it’s already on the radar of their main target. Bloomberg’s Max Abelson looks at how banks are joining forces and working with police and private security firms to track OWS’s return act. Abelson gives his interviewees enough rope to hang themselves on their own tone-deaf quotes:

Banks cooperating on surveillance are like elk fending off wolves in Yellowstone National Park, [Brian McNary, director of global risk at Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations] said. While other animals try in vain to sprint away alone, elk survive attacks by forming a ring together, he said.

That concern, however poorly articulated, seems to rise to the top at financial firms. After offering to meet with OWS last October, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit hasn’t followed through, and the movement is asking him why. New York‘s Joe Coscarelli reports that Deutsche Bank is planning to close its public atrium at 60 Wall Street.

What single issue should Occupy Wall Street focus on? Email us at Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com and we’ll post the best responses in tomorrow’s newsletter. If we include your comment, we’ll send you a book from the pile on Felix’s desk.  – Ben Walsh

And on to today’s links:

Tax Arcana
AIG is healthy again – as long as it gets many billions in tax waivers – Bloomberg Businessweek

New Normal
Big banks increasingly targeting low-income customers with glorified payday loans – NYT

Oxpeckers
Vogue has scrubbed its glowing profile of Asma Al-Assad – WashPost

Wonks
Why you should ignore the Bernanke vs. Krugman feud – The Economist
The detailed case against the Ryan budget plan – Gene Sperling

Good Pork
A much-derided, $250,000 government-funded study may have saved $20 billion – Wonkblog

Reuters Opinion
Who cares if Murdoch lobbied? – Jack Shafer
Apple and the innovation dilemma – John C. Abell
Stop blaming the statisticians – John Kemp
Can Silicon Valley fix the mortgage market? – Christopher Papagianis

Politicking
Both Obama and Romney have budgets that won’t work without middle-class tax hikes – Forbes
Glenn Hubbard’s controversial claim that Obama’s budget will lead to big tax hikes – WSJ

Remuneration
How big company boards justify “competitive” CEO pay packages by defining much larger companies as “peers” – Bloomberg

Indicators
How the labor-force-participation rate could deal a big blow to Obama – Fortune
We’ve now had three straight weeks of disturbingly high unemployment claims – NYT

More Returns/More Problems
Instagram investor defends himself for only making 312 times his money, quotes Ma$e – Ben Horowitz

Compelling
Memory as a durable good (or why you should go on vacation ASAP) – The Atlantic

Oxpeckers
The econoblogosphere: The totem that reminds Bernanke that the real world exists – Modeled Behavior

For the Record
Chesapeake: When we said we were “fully aware” of our CEO’s personal loans, we meant “generally” – Reuters

Startups
“It’s about more than underwear, it’s about redefining what it means to be made in America” – Kickstarter

Investigations
Ex-Morgan Stanley exec pleads guilty in conspiracy – Bloomberg

Shocking
Thoughts, jokes and honest emotion do little to help your Klout score – Wired

Inanities
“Marketing,” “Strategy” and “Big Ideas” are all dead, says purveyor of “Marketing,” “Strategy” and “Big Ideas” – The Drum

6 comments

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We should have let the whole system come crashing down when we had the chance. But wait, these idiots are so clueless we’re probably going to get that chance really soon. I say the next time it comes up we nationalize the banks and fund their bailouts with the frozen assets of all those crooked CEOs and influence peddlers we call lobbyists, that is assuming we can track down all the off shore bank accounts where they’ve hidden their loot. Its not anti-capitalist to throw rich people in jail for financial fraud.

Posted by wehl3318 | Report as abusive

What message? Everything they brought attention to has been regularly in the media! They should bring attention to that which our media fails to offer public recognition to, then they’ll serve useful purpose.

Posted by donee | Report as abusive

Bring it, OWS! Hopefully, people will wake up soon before it is too late. Our country is in terrible trouble and headed downhill quick.

Posted by southernwoman | Report as abusive

Your Economist link is already past its best before date, for the Economist (as represented by Ryan Avent) also explains why you should pay close attention to Krugman on Bernanke: http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexcha nge/2012/04/monetary-policy-2.

And isn’t calling this a “feud” a little hyperbolic, even for you?

Posted by Greycap | Report as abusive

I agree with you Ben Walsh that the OCCUPY THE SEC comment letter on the Volcker Rule was well-targeted. Due to the colluding political-economic structure of our society, the effective financial regulations are non-existent and we are left with more of the same Too Big To Fail and Too Powerful To Regulate institutions. We will not rest until justice is brought against the criminals and our political system is in the hands of the people.

Posted by ShellyBernal | Report as abusive

Elk don’t form circles to fend off wolves. Musk oxen do, but you won’t find those in Yellowstone.

Posted by JimInMissoula | Report as abusive