Finance, Not Protest Is Taming the Banks
Foley, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)
So did the Occupy Wall Street movement have any effect? No, says Stephen Foley
There was a feast in Zuccotti Park on Christmas Day. Protesters munched on Christmas cookies, pasta and turkey sandwiches, and sang a rousing rendition of John Lennon's Imagine, summoning for a moment the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement that began in this park in Manhattan's financial district 100 days earlier.
These days protest activity in the park is a sorry shadow of the OWS heyday, when it looked like becoming an immovable tent city, whose warren of streets were lined with activists pushing left-wing causes and messages. Of course, it did not prove immovable, and New York sent its police force in to remove the tents, as did other cities across the US. Now, protesters are allowed into the heavily guarded square, but they are not allowed to sleep there, and Zuccotti Park yesterday contained just two activists with a collecting tin.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the copycat encampment outside St Paul's cathedral in London is into its third month and planning a New Year's Eve concert to celebrate, but even that looks like petering out in January as efforts to move the protesters wend their way through the courts.
The legacy of the OWS movement is the subject of as much debate as its aims and methods were during its intense, early days, but there is one question that can be answered with some clarity as this year of protest draws to a close: did OWS have any effect on Wall Street itself? And the answer is no.
That is not to say that the banks have had a great year. Quite the opposite. The US financial sector has been the worst-performing part of the S&P 500 for 2011, and the global finance industry has announced more than 200,000 job cuts this year. Just this week, Morgan Stanley, one of the mightiest investment banks, set out the details of the "rolling layoffs" it began the week before Christmas. Of 1,600 jobs going across the firm, 580 will be in New York.
Options Group, the researcher of Wall Street pay, predicts that bonuses this winter will be down by more than one-third on 2010 - but it is not street …
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Publication information: Article title: Finance, Not Protest Is Taming the Banks. Contributors: Foley, Stephen - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: December 29, 2011. Page number: 48. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.