Wall Street reflects on the year since Occupy
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Jeremy Hobson: One year ago today, not far from where I sit right now, a movement began. It started when protestors took over a park right in the heart of New York’s financial district, and demanded that the world pay attention to the 99 percent.
But one year later, do Wall Streeters think the Occupy Wall Street movement accomplished anything? Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore asked them.
Heidi Moore: Occupy Wall Street never really developed a single cause. But in the mind of many, the movement did take aim at one big target.
Protestor: We had Wall Street bankers take other people’s money and bring our economy to its knees.
It turns out, a lot of people weren’t okay with that. Even on Wall Street. John Taft is the CEO of RBC Wealth Management, which manages half a trillion dollars on behalf of rich clients.
John Taft: I found Occupy Wall Street to be an educational moment for me. It was a shot across the bow.
Taft wrote a book this year urging Wall Street executives to abandon greed in favor of serving their clients.
Taft: Occupy Wall Street was just a harbinger of much more serious social unrest. What we could experience if we don’t address the whole issue of income inequality.
Barry Ritholtz is the CEO of the financial research firm Fusion IQ and a popular blogger. He’s wanted Wall Street to change for a long time.
Barry Ritholtz: I had my Occupy Wall Street banner up on the blog for a couple of weeks.
But he took it down because he was disappointed that the movement didn’t deliver.
Ritholtz: Man, you guys had a real potential to impact change, to affect things and you blew it? I’m sorry you don’t want to hear that, but that’s the reality.
It’s the criticism you would expect from Wall Street types: The occupiers didn’t have enough ambition. That said, people on Wall Street acknowledge that something’s broken.
Herb Allison: I don’t think anyone’s happy with the system today, including the people who are in these banks.
Herb Allison is the former CEO of Merrill Lynch and helped the government with the bailouts like TARP and Fannie Mae. He says changing the system requires more political will. Because:
Allison: Greed will always be with us. There is greed in all sectors of society.
He’s pushing for a breakup of big banks like the one he used to work for. That’s one cause Occupy Wall Street would have been happy to support.
In New York, I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.
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