May 9, 2012

Occupy the Regulatory / Investigatory System

From the Washington Post:

Occupy Wall Street has moved. Its new address: 60 Wall Street.

There, inside a soaring public atrium, dreadlocked teens trade shoulder massages near the evening meditation circle. A young man holds up a sign: “You’re a Federal Reserve $lave.” The dinnertime crowd buzzes over free plates of rice and beans while listening to an improvised, profanity-laden operetta about the evils of agro-giant Monsanto. But amid the din, there’s a small group holding a quieter, and far wonkier, conversation.

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After much discussion, the group agreed that the Volcker Rule’s earlier definition of clearing agencies, which banks use for exchanging futures contracts, was “clear and tough and good,” but decided that it was worth double-checking section 17(a) of questions that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission raised about it.

It may sound like technical gobbledygook to an outsider, and, indeed, a few newcomers to Occupy the SEC seem befuddled by the group’s headlong dive into the finer distinctions between proprietary trading and market-making. But the meeting is a glimpse into one of the most surprising iterations of the free-wheeling, anarchic movement: fighting the man through the tedious and Byzantine regulatory process.
More at the WaPo link above.

From truthout:
“How can we help? How can we help? How can we help?”

It’s not your average protest slogan, but it’s what the group chanted today as it marched from Zuccotti Park to 120 Broadway, which houses the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The AG chairs President Obama’s task force to investigate the routine fraud and abuse that characterized Wall Street during the Bush-era inflation of the housing bubble and precipitated the 2008 financial crash and subsequent recession. According to a Schneiderman-penned Daily News Op-Ed, though, the task force has only been furnished with “[m]ore than 50 attorneys,” whereas the Enron investigation alone required over 100, and the Savings and Loan crisis took over 1,000. Wall Street occupiers today, under the banner The May Fourth Committee for Equal Justice Under the Law, offered to fill that void.

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Alexis Goldstein, a former net developer and business analyst at three large Wall Street firms, echoed that sentiment. “In January,” she told the crown. “President Obama appointed a financial fraud task force co-chaired by five people to investigate mortgage fraud. He touted it proudly in the State of the Union. But since the task force was created, we’ve seen zero prosecutions brought against the banks who committed securities fraud, conducted robo-signing, and illegally foreclosed on homes. We’ve seen no one thrown in jail following the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

Austin Guest brought a calculator, a pocket protector and news clippings. “I’m good at investigating,” he told me. “Frankly, it doesn’t seem very difficult. People are on record committing fraud. I’m very capable of using Google and a printer.”
More at the truthout link above.

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