Home > #OWS, finance, rant > Occupy Wall Street: Day 13

Occupy Wall Street: Day 13

September 29, 2011

So I went to see the Occupy Wall Street protests this morning before work and this evening after work again. Here are some of my comments and observations.

First, if you are interested in checking it out, know that there are small marches at opening and closing bell for the market.

However, the police have made it basically impossible to walk on Wall Street, due to some incredibly annoying barricades.

So for our march this morning we seemed to just circle the city block where the protest is based, although I didn’t stay til the end so it’s possible they decided to very very slowly march on Wall Street proper.

Second, they have “assemblies” twice a day, with guest speakers sometimes (Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon and Cornel West have visited), and this is where general announcements are made. The crowd was quite large tonight and it was difficult to hear what the speaker and the repeaters were saying, which is frustrating. But maybe it’s easier at the 1pm assembly. Also, it seems to be easier to actually discuss issues in the morning- at night it gets loud and kind of crazy and hard to focus in my opinion.

Next, I’d like to address the issue of the message of the protesters being dismissed as incoherent. For the record, I went to a conference at the end of 2009 at Columbia Business School on the financial crisis and what we should do about it, where the speakers were fancy economists from central banks and CEOs of international banks, and they were about as incoherent as these protesters. There was absolutely no getting them to say anything that was an actual plan or even an attempt at a plan for changing the system so this mess wouldn’t happen again. I should know, because there was a question and answer period and I asked.

Having said that, there have been some pretty unconvincing statements reported from some of the protesters in terms of what they would like to see. For example, some of them seem to think that short selling should be banned. As some of you know, I disagree. In fact there are lots of seriously corrupt and ridiculous things going on in the financial system which they should know about and they should protest, and I’d like to invite them to educate themselves.

In particular, if you are someone interested in knowing stuff about how the financial system works, then please ask! A major part of why I blog is to try to inform people about these things who are interested. Please comment below and ask whatever you want, and if I don’t know the answer I will find someone who does, or I will blog about the question.

Having said that, I’d like to add that it’s on the one hand perfectly reasonable that people don’t understand the financial system, because it has essentially been set up to be too complicated to understand, and on the other hand it’s also reasonable to think of the entire financial system as a black box which can be judged by its outputs.

Finally, if we are going to judge the system by looking at its outputs, then these protesters, who are in general young, with educations, huge students debts, and hopeless outlooks, have a pretty dismal view. In other words they have every right to complain that the system is fucking them, even though they don’t know how the system works. I for one am super proud that they’re out there doing something, even if it’s not obviously organized and polished, rather than passively sitting by.

Categories: #OWS, finance, rant
  1. Aaron
    September 30, 2011 at 12:25 am

    I am all in favor of shenanigans such as this, so don’t get me wrong here, but I’m just asking. Is there any conceivable chain of events that could lead from this protest to anything actually changing in any way?

  2. Nancy Karter
    September 30, 2011 at 4:07 am

    My son and I traveled 22 hours on Amtrak to get to Zuccotti Park because I felt it was the beginning of an American Revolution and I knew we had to be a part of it. We were not disappointed. j The GA has released there declaration to the world. Russell Simmons has joined the cause along with the New York Transit union

  3. bertie
    September 30, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Yes but Tahir Square was a silent (!) protest for months without any demands articulated, what the world finally saw was the result of 8 months of continuous occupation.

    Cathy, did you make yourself known to one of the working groups there? I am sure they would love to have you run a “financial crisis theory” workshop for them and I suspect it would be very well attended.
    Bloggers unite!

    • September 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      I tried. But it was hard to find the correct person. And there wasn’t a working group on “finance” or “how finance works”. I guess this means I should start one, but I don’t have the time to be down there. Please tell me if you see one.

      • FogOfWar
        October 1, 2011 at 10:47 pm

        Is there a way to have a permanent section of the site for questions to be posted? Not sure if we’ll be taken up on this offer, but let’s try to make it accessible….

        FoW

  4. Nancy Karter
    September 30, 2011 at 4:30 am

    and the Pilot’s Union. (sorry this is a continuation of my previous post…little bit tired) We were surprised when we arrived in New York and there were many people that did not know anything about the protest. This of course is due to the United States media blackout as we have gotten plenty of information
    from many overseas media systems and internet coverage. Now that Time Magazine has published their article maybe the rest of them will finally have to report the news instead of deciding what they want us to hear. Although, there were a couple of sporadic, slighted small articles talking about the uninformed protesters. In our time there we met so many educated and knowledgeable people from all over the world. I an wondering if those reporters only sought out the few that are uninformed to benefit their point of view instead of really doing their job. They will have to stand up and take notice now as there are currently 66 other cities doing their own “occupation” either currently or in the next couple of weeks. The movement has generated interest from around the world. I am so proud of everyone there and so thankful that I was able to participate in and experience that I have been waiting 20 years for. Time to get off your sofa folks, take notice and support OWS as this is huge and they are not going away.

  5. Nancy Karter
    September 30, 2011 at 4:38 am

    As stated earlier I must apologize for texting errors as I am exhausted yet so excited I cannot sleep. The GA has released their Declaration. I think it says great things. You can read it on occupywallst.org.

  6. September 30, 2011 at 5:17 am

    It does matter that the financial system is too complex to understand, because whilst the outputs are telling you that the system is broken, if you don’t know how it works, you unlikely to be able to prescribe a correct remedy. This is the reason for underlying the vagueness you observe.

    Although I accept your arguments that ‘selling short’ per se is not the problem, it might help to consider some extreme cases as thought experiments such as ‘What if the volume of x that is required to transfer at time t due to futures maturing exceeds the volume of x coming to market at time t’. If the system had mechanisms whereby it could handle such absurdities gracefully, or avoid them with certainty (rather than ‘almost always’ as is currently the case), it might handle less extreme cases better as well.

    I note that one obviously broken output of the system is that regulation is cyclic when it should be counter-cyclic. Immediately after a crash, regulation is tightened (quite wrong -> this is the period when going for growth is appropriate). During a bull run, regulation is loosened (quite wrong -> this is the time when fraudsters can operate, their thefts, insignificant in the volumes of the market).

    We know this is a function of human memory; people react more strongly to the recent past than to history.

    “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”

  7. September 30, 2011 at 11:57 am

    >I’d like to invite them to educate themselves.

    Please do offer your services for a workshop as a previous commenter suggested. That would be great. And maybe it would help them formulate a statement about why individual protesters cannot be expected to be properly informed about how to fix it.

  8. anon
    September 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    No one worry! This problem was actually solved back in 2008 but the media chose to hide the solution. Thankfully someone was able to make a copy on their camcorder.

  9. October 1, 2011 at 6:24 am

    nice!

  10. October 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    “In fact there are lots of seriously corrupt and ridiculous things going on in the financial system which they should know about and they should protest, and I’d like to invite them to educate themselves.”

    Can you give us a brief outline? Even a list of key words would be helpful for those of us who would like to make a start at educating ourselves.

    (By the way, I just started reading your blog recently, and it is excellent! Thanks for writing it, and please continue.)

  1. October 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm
  2. November 17, 2011 at 6:08 am
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