My Sunday Business Washington Post column is a special Tuesday edition: Occupy Wall Street needs to occupy Congress and lobbyists

Here’s an excerpt from the column:

“There is an unfocused financial rage in the United States.

It was born in the late 1990s on an unholy trinity of accounting swindles, the dot-com collapse and analyst scandals. It grew on a housing boom and bust that created 5 million (and counting) foreclosures, leaving more than a quarter of bank-financed homes worth less than their mortgages. It matured on a growing wealth disparity that eviscerated the middle class and brought back the plutocracy of the 1920s. It reached its peak with the bailout of reckless bankers, who were rewarded for their irresponsibility with what may be the greatest wealth transfer in human history.

And now it seems to be finding its voice with the movement known as Occupy Wall Street.”

It will be interesting to see if there is any response to this in the halls of power in DC.


Occupy Wall Street needs to occupy Congress and lobbyists
Barry Ritholtz
Washington Post, October 17, 2011

Category: Bailouts, Credit, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

22 Responses to “WP: Occupy Wall Street needs to occupy Congress & lobbyists”

  1. ilsm says:

    The cancer is on wall st.

    Don’t take advice from the enemy.

  2. gloppie says:

    The stuff is about to hit the fan in Euro-lala-land..
    Keywords; Dexia Holding Communal.
    Popcorn at the ready!

  3. Greg0658 says:

    Dick Durbin: “The Banks Own Washington and Are Blocking Bankruptcy & Credit Card Reform” theEDshow 4/29/09

  4. macrotrader603 says:

    Barry, excellent piece. Something I have been saying for weeks.

  5. Expat says:

    Ooh, Barry! No soup for you!

    But the halls of power won’t respond to the blogosphere. I don’t know what they will respond to. It is nigh impossible to change Wall Street as long as it controls Washington, and changing Washington is only slightly less difficult.

    Whenever there is a “landslide” or “overwhelming grassroots movement” these days, it means a handful of very vocal lunatics shifted the political center to one side or other of the arbitrary line dividing Republicans from Democrats. We “throw the bums out” but we generally replace them with retreads or newer bums from the same political machines.

    People are not angry enough or don’t understand what to be angry about. OWS is a case in point, as satirized in so many cartoons (“Death to Bankers”, “Be more Fair”, and “Get rid of the designated hitter”). Most Americans mistrust politicians in general but support them in the particular (my Rep or my Senator, my party, or my PAC).

    Frankly, we would need to vote in virgins and independents and never, ever let any standing elected official who has held office over the past fifty years be elected ever again. And then put in term limits for Congressmen and Senators. Ban anyone worth more than $5 million from being appointed to any office (such as a Cabinet Secretary). Require any elected official to allocate equal time to any constituent (to eliminate lobbying. If a Congressman or his staff meet with a lobbyist, they must meet with any other constituent who asks for the same amount of time.). No gifts of any kind for elected officials including trips, lunches, etc.

    And a pony for Christmas, please.

  6. Moe says:

    I moved back to the U.S. in 2008 after 8 years in Canada. I moved back to different country. I could not understand why no one was protesting all the crap that was going on. It seemed surreal. It took a while, but I’m glad to see it happening. I’m reminded of the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s quote after the bombing of peral harbor: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

  7. ToNYC says:

    Blooomberg/BW on April 20-2011
    Lessons from the Credit-Anstalt Collapse
    Europe is in far better shape than when the Austrian bank failed in 1931, but the risk of a domino effect remains.

    What was the lesson learned about passing the buck?

  8. Moe says:

    Make that “Pearl Harbor”…sorry.

  9. AlexM says:

    For many years congress has not done as their constituencies have asked them to as they are bought by the corporations that pay the lobbyists. Public financing of all campaigns is just one of the pieces of the puzzle, but congress thinks it can do anything (or mostly obstruct) it wants without being held accountable to anyone.

    Vast portions of the electorate have been brainwashed into thinking that conservative policies are the way to prosperity, while ignoring all of the crises that have come about simply by deregulation of the financial industry and markets. See the surge of the nitwit Herman Caine tells you all you need to know about the mental state of conservatives who lurch from candidate to candidate, each one worse than the one before. Looking over the Republican field of candidates is like looking into a freak show that is not so much different than the freak show in the congress.

    Ask a young person today about what caused the collapse of the S&L industry and subsequent fraud and bailouts which was caused by deregulation and was the precursor to today’s catastrophe, and they don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

    Deregulation of the financial markets is one of the biggest causes of our financial meltdowns domestically and globally, and congress is directly responsible for deregulating markets.

    Will anything change? No. They are just waiting for the winter to set in so that all the dirty hippies can go crawl back into their holes. They have no reason to be afraid of the population as they know if they ignore them long enough they will just go away.

    What would be sweet is if these protests grew and grew as the 2012 elections come closer. Somehow, I see them bringing back the holding pens for the protesters leftover from the Bush era, while the cameras avert their gazes.

  10. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    “It will be interesting to see if there is any response to this in the halls of power in DC.”

    They don’t get it, BR. If they did, we wouldn’t be in this situation.

    If you think back to the Presidential debates in the last election cycle, even though it was apparent to many that the economy was crashing (and quickly becoming apparent to many more), issues surrounding the economy were not addressed until the final couple of debates, and then the questions came late and were subordinate to the other “issues” being focused on.

    “Our leaders” and their their constituencies (their constituencies being completely different than the electorate), have become reliant on marketing: Corporatist media floating memes to The People, for the purpose of distracting and/or dividing them. That The People have begun to wise up to the propaganda completely baffles them.

    They will understand what’s going on when it’s over and done with.

  11. Allocationist says:

    You are one of the few people willing to “tell it like it is.” Until the we can fix the “bought and paid for” political process it will be more of the same. Thank you for speaking the truth.

  12. ToNYC says:

    “Barry, excellent piece. Something I have been saying for weeks.”

    Radiating waves of human awakening distort time wonderfully.

  13. dougc says:

    The response will depend upon how big the mob is and whether it survives the cold winter. The response will be in campaign rhetoric and after the election there will be hearings and legislation will be offered and it will either die or so ineffective the game will continue as usual.

  14. Moopheus says:

    We need to do a lot more than that. Putting pressure on Congress to take some action is a good thing, and while I get your point about a Constitutional amendment, that process could take years and would of course be strongly resisted by the very people it is aimed at (recall the ERA fight). We have to take more direct action, and divest ourselves from Wall Street as much as we possibly can. Closing accounts at the money center banks is a good start; closing accounts at investment brokers is good too. This will be harder; obviously, the more closely someone’s personal finance is tied to Wall Street, the less they will want to make meaningful change.

  15. Moss says:

    Not a lot of people do not really understand what we have become. Intuitively they know something is asunder but the MSM with their partisan biases are NOT the sources where people will gain the necessary understanding.

    I used the word ‘corporatocracy’ at a neighborhood party recently and no one knew what I was talking about. I had to connect all the dots before they understood what the word meant.

  16. herewegoagain says:

    The OWS Movement is fortunate to have your support.

    If your interested in an alternative opinion, I hope they continue to do exactly what they’re doing. Washington D.C. has a police force structured to manage and muffle dissent, and to protect the ruling elite from the inconveniences of free speech. The New York City protests have a concentrated focus that would be impossible in Washington.

    But all that aside, it’s a delight to be able to read the wit and wisdom of an asset manager who isn’t a lockstep Republican. So I also hope that you continue to do exactly what you’re doing.

  17. herewegoagain says:

    Thanks for the Mauldin clip, though the relationship to the WP article seems entirely superficial.
    BR’s apparent concern is in helping OWS accomplish real reform.

    Mauldin is using the event as yet another opportunity to present his tired anti-regulatory claptrap.
    Does anyone in their right mind think our fundamental economic problems are the result of over regulation? (Mauldin is getting almost as creepy to me as William F. Buckley. That same lizard-like tongue.)

  18. Frilton Miedman says:

    I agree, Occupying Wall without focusing on D.C. St is like focusing on half the tumor in a cancer patient.

    As for the political solutions, the ONLY solution is Dylan Ratigan’s “getmoneyout.com”.

    It makes no difference how long a political term is or how many terms are served, a single politician in one 2 year term can easily demolish the economy or Democracy with a single vote for the highest corporate bidder.

    Get the money out, create a system of public finance to inhibit any benefits for political favorism or revolving doors, and, it wouldn’t hurt to investigate certain members of the Supreme Court for their personal conflicts in the “citizens united” decision to allow unlimited bribery.

  19. AtlasRocked says:

    If a government hands it’s graduating High School seniors a $50k debt, for policies these 80 million kids didn’t have a say in, they are in far worse fiscal delusion than the banks.

    The whole system is in fiscal disrepair. We need to

    - Privatize social security. If the gov’t can’t run it according to sustainability laws and best practices used in the private sector, then it is nothing more than a welfare program. Keep it for those older than me by 1 year, but privatize it for everyone else and pass it back to the states. Let it be run by sound banking practices used in the private sector. If you want retirement money, then you have to save for it, no more handing the retirement and medical bills to our high school seniors.

    - From here forward, defined benefit programs are illegal.

    - If anyone wants to opt out they can.

    - Abolish the Fair Housing Act, which introduced high risk mortgages into the fiscal system, imperiling pension programs all over the world. Let banks loan to whomever they choose, using their time-proven risk assessment equations.

    - Prosecute those who bundled the high risk loans into AAA securities, including the Regulators caught in complicity.

    - Prosecute the robo-signer mortgage mill management teams.

    - Appoint William Black as Attorney General. Go get ‘em Bill.

    - Push all benefits programs back to the states, where they are Constitutionally legal. Every one of the federal benefits programs are perfectly legal and mandated to be balanced at the state level. None are legal, and none are in fiscal balance at the federal level.

    - Re-approve Glass Steagal. Break up the banks and investment houses, put a firewall there. No more bail outs for investment banks.

  20. [...] Barry has described it, “there is an unfocused financial rage in the United States” — and you see it [...]