The Business World Responds to Occupy Wall Street

Whether you look at Occupy Wall Street as a group of hippies with ridiculous demands or a group of courageous idealist looking to change the world for the better, it’s time to take notice of the effect this movement is having. When bank aligned politicians like Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke express, albeit awkwardly, empathy with the group, businesses can no longer ignore the movement.

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The loose-knit group has yet to publish a list of companies it believes they should target. One member suggested targeting companies that outsource American jobs as noted in CNN’s "Exporting America" list. On the list are companies from all backgrounds, not just big banks. Notable members include MetLife Auto Insurance, Microsoft, Nabisco and Walgreens. Some suggest the focus can only be on government regulations to control these companies. Even as the group works to sort out exactly what it wants, businesses are beginning to respond to its presence.

Interestingly, the response from businesses looks like a pyramid, with a large number of small businesses on the bottom and a few middle-sized businesses above that. Missing, however, is the pointed tip of the pyramid, where the main targets of these protests have failed to respond at all. The biggest targets of the protests are keeping their cards close to their chests as they tighten security and ignore the mayhem surrounding them.

Small and Medium Business Response

The response from small and medium businesses is pragmatic, stemming from the impact the movement has on their sales. NPR’s Margot Adler interviewed several small businesses on the ground at Occupy Wall Street and found winners and losers from the additional foot traffic brought in by the protests. The food vendors in and around Zuccotti Park aren’t complaining although revenues are a bit down since the protesters aren’t buying. They get free lunch as part of the event. Coffee revenues however are up 10 to 15 percent. A Dunkin Donuts operator said business is up because of increased police presence.

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Larger retailers like Sephora and Brooks Brothers are a little less happy. Although they wouldn’t comment publicly, workers expressed frustration over the barricades that make it harder for customers to make their way into the stores. Occupy Wall Street representatives go around to work with these businesses and address the problems the movement may cause for them. As a result, the strongest response from small and medium businesses has been a resounding shrug.

Even some companies that might expect rage from the group are chipping in without taking a stance on the movement itself. The McDonalds near Zuccotti Park is offering use of its restrooms and Wi-Fi free to protestors. UPS receives packages for them.

Businesses Responding with Cause Marketing

Some businesses see the movement as a marketing opportunity. Cause marketing is a feel-good enterprise that seems like a win-win for business and charities. In Seattle, small business, Big Mario’s has been handing out free pizza for a month. The Main Street Alliance, a small business support group, hails itself as part of the 99%, the movement’s expression of the disparity of power, where 1% of the population controls what happens to the remaining 99%.

Ben & Jerry’s posted its support of the movement online and then went down to serve ice cream to protesters. Even though Ben & Jerry’s is owned by corporate giant Unilever, the company has kept its small business atmosphere through an independent board of directors that does not answer to Unilever. A company representative wrote, "Unilever respects the unique social mission of Ben & Jerry’s and the independence of its board in speaking out on social issues." 

Corporate Giants Remain Silent

As the protests wear on, it is becoming increasingly difficult for corporate giants to keep their composure. In the beginning, many underestimated the leaderless movement as a flash in the pan. Now the group is flexing its muscles, with executives hiding from scrutiny.

Chief Executive for Goldman Sachs canceled a lecture at local liberal arts school, Barnard College. Many suggest the cancellation came from fears of protests. Officially, however, a Goldman representative said the cancellation was due to a scheduling conflict.

A Reuters report details the corporate response:

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‘Witold Henisz, an associate professor of management at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania who has studied the public reaction to the financial crisis, said banks’ response to anti-Wall Street sentiment had been woefully inadequate so far.

"Leadership from the heads of some of these banks would be a powerful signal and it’s just not there," said Henisz. "They’re putting it all in terms of, ‘You can’t tell me what to pay my workers, you can’t regulate me, that’s not the role of government, the role of government is to stay in the background.’ Well, where would they be without the bailouts?"’

The corporate response has largely been internal, with heightened security. The Reuters report details the "heightened awareness" among corporations on and near Wall Street.

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"The New York City Police Department has kept banks in the loop about protester activity by sending out email blasts to its Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, according to sources familiar with the matter. The emails tell landlords and occupants in those areas, including large banks like Goldman,Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp, where protesters are headed and whether there are any unusual risks."

The lack of public response by these companies is likely to hurt them in the long run. To heighten security inwardly and ignore protests outwardly will be perceived as a yet another selfish act that further defines them as part of the 1% that does not stand with the 99%.

Source: Business Insider

Indians in Financial Terrorism: Ex-Goldman director Rajat Gupta to face criminal charges.

Former Goldman Sachs director, Rajat Gupta, who also was once the global head of elite consultancy McKinsey & Co, will surrender to the FBI on Wednesday to face criminal insider trading-related charges, a person familiar with the investigation said. Rajat Kumar Gupta  was a longtime top senior partner and director at management consultancy McKinsey & Company, serving as managing director (chief executive) from 1994 to 2003. In this capacity, he was recognized as the first Indian-born CEO of a global corporation.

Rajat Gupta, one of the most prominent business executives to be caught up in the government’s wide-ranging insider-trading probe, had been named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the criminal case against hedge fund tycoon Raj Rajaratnam earlier this year.

The person familiar with the investigation, who declined to be identified because the charges have not yet been made public, said Gupta had agreed to surrender to authorities.

Gupta’s attorney, Gary Naftalis, would not comment late Tuesday on possible criminal charges, but he issued a statement echoing his previous comments that Gupta committed no wrongdoing.

"Any allegation that Rajat Gupta engaged in any unlawful conduct is totally baseless. The facts demonstrate that Mr. Gupta is an innocent man and that he has always acted with honesty and integrity. He did not trade in any securities, did not tip Mr Rajaratnam so he could trade, and did not share in any profits as part of any quid pro quo."

Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund, was convicted in May by a New York federal jury after a two-month trial.

On Oct. 13, a judge sentenced him to 11 years in prison, the longest recorded for insider trading. Rajaratnam is under house arrest and was ordered to report to prison on Nov. 28.

Gupta, 62, well-known in the business world after 34 years at McKinsey, had won a seat in 2006 on the board of Goldman. He retired from McKinsey in 2007.

Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein was called to the witness stand by the government to testify at Rajaratnam’s trial in Manhattan federal court.

Blankfein told the jury that Gupta violated confidentiality at Wall Street’s most powerful bank by leaking boardroom secrets.

Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, whose office prosecuted Rajaratnam, declined to comment on Gupta’s surrendering to authorities or any possible charges.

In August, Gupta and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission agreed to drop litigation against each other stemming from the sprawling Galleon probe, which has ensnared money managers, traders and corporate executives.

The SEC had said Gupta passed illegal tips to Rajaratnam about Goldman, including a possible multibillion dollar investment from Warren Buffett, as well as tips about Procter & Gamble Co, where Gupta was also a director.

While the SEC said in August it would dismiss its administrative proceeding against Gupta, the agency said it could still bring a case against him in a federal district court.

PHONE TAPS

The investigation of Sri Lankan-born Rajaratnam was notable for the use of FBI phone taps. The probe ensnared several of the Galleon Group founder’s South Asian friends and associates. Gupta was born in India.

The Rajaratnam trial punctured McKinsey’s prized reputation for closely guarding client confidentiality — former McKinsey executive Anil Kumar pleaded guilty to criminal charges and testified against Rajaratnam.

At the trial, prosecutors played recordings in which Rajaratnam was heard discussing information he received from Gupta about Goldman Sachs.

In one recording dated Oct. 24, 2008, Rajaratnam was heard calling David Lau, chief of Galleon’s Singapore branch, and discussing a tip he got from a board member that Goldman was on its way to a surprise fourth-quarter loss, its first as a public company.

The call comes one day after the investment bank held a board meeting discussing the loss, prosecutors said.

"I just heard from somebody who’s on the board of Goldman Sachs, they are gonna lose $2 per share," Rajaratnam was heard saying. "So what he (the board member) was telling me was that, uh, Goldman, the quarter’s pretty bad."

Source: Reuters India

OCCUPY WALL STREET: "BLAME THE JEWS" "HITLER’S BANKERS, WALL STREET"

This is Obama, Pelosi and the left’s movement. Obama is expressing sympathy in his desperate attempt to shift blame for his unprecedented debt crisis. Obama has racked up more debt in three years than all previous presidents combined.

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Blaming the Jews would be entirely consistent with a Frank Marshall-mentored, twenty-year Jeremiah Wright disciple like Barack Hussein. "Jewish bankers" and such sounds eerily like pre-war Germany.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — “Blame the Jews.”

That’s the message one Wall Street protester was trying to spread in Lower Manhattan to anyone that would listen.

A new video posted to YouTube shows the protester loudly and aggressively proclaiming “the Jews control Wall Street.”

In the nearly 6-minute video, the man is seen standing in Zuccotti Park ranting against Israel and Jews while holding a sign reading “Hitler’s Bankers – Wall St.”

The protestor, who would not give his name to those gathered around him, is also seen arguing with members of the public who took offense to his choice of words.

A number of others also ask the protester if Fox News had paid him to stand and display his sign to which he responded: “[expletive] Fox News, that’s [expletive]. [Expletive] Jew made that up.”

Rush LImbaugh here:

Occupier, Occupy Wall Street Now.  I’ve often said, I said last week he who controls the definition of words, the meaning of words, controls the debate.  He who controls the language controls the debate.  There’s a lot of interesting stuff here.  Occupy Wall Street Now, 99%, that leaves 1%, roughly the percentage of Jews in the population, too.  And Wall Street and bankers have been anti-Semitic code for Jews in this country going back quite a while. 

Now, what’s happening here is that the Democrats… This is where Brooks may be on to something. It’s too early to tell. But the Democrats are embracing this group of people. They are embracing them big time. The Democrats — Jan Schakowsky in Illinois, members of Congress — cannot help themselves. They are embracing this group and encourages this group. Celebrities are showing up now. Kanye West shows up with Russell Simmons, and he was wearing his big gold chains, and he hung around for a while. He did a perp walk, signed some autographs and had to get out of there because he was mobbed by these people. But this Adbusters bunch has a history of anti-Semitism, proud anti-Semitism. (interruption) The article about Jewish "neocons" was just one of their pieces, Snerdley, that you mentioned here, along those lines.

And a lot of people, a lot of people like to think that Wall Street’s all made up of Jewish people. We’re the ones that mentioned this last week. We’re the first to tell you that Adbusters was deeply involved in this. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brooks got the idea from this program. I’m gonna do a content search and I’m gonna go back and I’m gonna get the exact thing I said about Adbusters last week or the week before, whenever it was ’cause now people are starting to pick up on this. So here’s the point: If this group is being organized and paid for by a bunch of anti-Semites and the Democrat Party goes overboard in embracing this group of people, then this could be problem for the Democrat coalition, not to mention the fact that they could unleash a bunch of anti-Jewish racism down there if they’re not careful with this, ’cause there’s much more going on here than you just see at the surface.

MELTDOWN: AFTER THE FALL (OF CAPITALISM)

In the final episode of Meltdown, we hear about the sheikh who says the crash never happened; a Wall Street king charged with fraud; a congresswoman who wants to jail the bankers; and the world leaders who want a re-think of capitalism.

The financial crash of September 2008 brought the largest bankruptcies in world history, pushing over 30 million people into unemployment and bringing many countries to the brink of insolvency.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum calls himself Dubai’s CEO. He claims to run his government according to strict business principles, but now many are quietly questioning his judgement and his leadership.

In depth coverage of US financial crisis protests

In the years before the meltdown, Dubai had the biggest real-estate bonanza in the world. During the crash, the market tumbled, losing 50 per cent of its value, leaving Dubai virtually insolvent. But this did not deter the sheikh.

In January 2010, Sheikh Mohammed threw a massive party to mark the opening of the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa – using PR strategies to suggest that the real estate crash was a good thing for the emirate.

As one world leader handles the crisis through denial, other leaders try to re-think capitalism. Even though the causes of the 2008 meltdown are now clear, there is no magic formula to stop it from happening again.

The world has to start planning for the next crisis, even as we recognise that this one is not over yet.

Occupy Capitalism: ‘No freedom of press in London’

NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT CRUSHED PEOPLE WITH HORSES

 

London Stock exchange occupation blocked

Anti-capitalist protests that started with the Occupy Wall Street movement on Saturday spread to London and other cities.

Thousands of people descended on the area around the London Stock Exchange in a bid to replicate the huge demonstrations which have been taking place in New York.

A spokesman for the protesters said: “We are doing this to challenge the bankers and the financial institutions which recklessly gambled our economy. This occupation and 20 other occupations all around the UK have been directly inspired by what’s happening all across America and especially Wall Street.”

Activists had planned to take over Paternoster Square, where the Stock Exchange is located, but police cordoned off the area. Instead, protesters returned to their previous position in front of St Paul’s Cathedral.

As night fell, they announced their intention to set up a campsite in St Paul’s Churchyard, putting up tents and portaloos on one side of the square. However, Scotland Yard made it clear police would not allow the campsite in front of the cathedral, saying such a move would be “illegal and disrespectful”.

The force said they had made efforts to ensure the protest was largely peaceful. Three arrests were made – two for assault on police and one for a public order offence.

Well-known activists including Julian Assange and Peter Tatchell were among the protesters. Mr Assange, creator of the Wikileaks website, addressed the crowds on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Protests also took place on the streets of Edinburgh and Dublin, which passed off peacefully. More than 100 demonstrators turned out to protest in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, while hundreds also took to the streets of Dublin.

Anna Jones, a supporter of Occupy London Stock Exchange said: “So far, we have already seen a disproportionate amount of force by the police against protesters who are occupying the area outside St Paul’s… The only crime that the police can pin on people is one of having a conversation about real democracy and the unfair and unequal economic system that favours the rich and powerful.”

In Italy, however, police fired tear gas and water cannons as protesters turned the demonstration against corporate greed into a riot, smashing shop and bank windows, torching cars and hurling bottles.

Source:  UK Press Association

Arrests at anti-capitalist protests in London

PROTESTERS at an anti-capitalism rally in London have been arrested.

Three campaigners were nabbed by officers, who managed to stop a planned occupation of the London Stock Exchange.

Several hundred protesters from the Occupy London Stock Exchange movement were stopped from entering Paternoster Square today. It came after reports a High Court injunction had been issued to prevent members of the public from accessing the area.

After the attempt to occupy Paternoster Square failed miserably, the protesters returned to outside St Paul’s Cathedral, a position they have held for several weeks. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addressed the crowds, talking about police oppression, Wikileaks and the current economic situation.

The protesters’ spokesman said: “We are doing this to challenge the bankers and the financial institutions which recklessly gambled our economy.”

He also spoke of a further 20 occupations being planned around the UK, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Activists carried banners with slogans such as “Bankers got a bailout, we got sold out” and “We are the 99%”.

Canadian Lorena Fuentes, a charity worker, said: “I’m here today because I can’t see why you wouldn’t be and I feel that this is one of the few moments in history where it’s not a protest, it’s an actual movement that’s taken root.

“We’re trying to challenge this myth that there are not enough resources to go around.”

Berlin... German demonstrators take part in protests

Berlin… German demonstrators take part in protests

Protesters also marched in cities across the world in support of those occupying Wall Street, America’s financial centre.

There were demonstrations in New Zealand and Australia, and the movement’s website said that 951 protests would take place in cities across 82 countries. It is unclear whether that target was reached. The group’s website calls for people to “rise up to claim their rights and demand a true democracy.”

Rome... demos over finance fears were all over the world

Rome… demos over finance fears were all over the world

The demonstrations are against corruption and capitalism, and are a reaction to the global financial crisis. The Occupy Wall Street protests began in Canada last month, and have spread across the globe. In Frankfurt, some 5000 people protested outside the European Central Bank.

The movement has received celebrity endorsement too, as a group of 100 prominent authors, including Salman Rushdie and Neil Gaiman signed an online petition declaring their support for the movement.

Source: News Group Newspapers Limited 

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