The Disconnect Between Wall Street, Banks and the People
There is a rapidly growing chasm between money-people and, well, the rest of us. Whether it’s bailed-out banks or rescued Wall Street firms, there is palpable resentment about what they did to get us in the mess we’re in, how they were saved with taxpayer money, and how they seem to not really give a hoot about what anybody in America is going through as the Great Recession continues pummeling most of us.
Bloomberg.com’s Susan Antilla makes the point and adds that most Americans don’t consider that Wall Street folks really contribute much that’s meaningful to society. She says she’s never seen such widespread anger in all her 14 years as a Bloomberg columnist.
I can confirm it anecdotally. I hear it in taxi cabs, cocktail conversations, heck, I even heard it in the “Wall Street Sucks!” chants at the recent Yankee victory parade where people were supposed to be, like, happy. And of course, Wall Street couldn’t care less:
Stewart Ewen, a Hunter College professor who writes on contemporary culture, tells me his guess is that Wall Street owns the decision makers and doesn’t care about the rest.
Look, I’m really thrilled the Dow is taking off and that my 401k accounts are staging a comeback. But, wow, that really is quite the disconnect when 10.2% of Americans are out of work and another 7% have given up looking and aren’t even counted in the official figures anymore. The other 83% live in fear it’ll happen to them.
And what’s with the 25%-30% interest rates on credit cards these days? Apparently, banks are squeezing what they can before new laws go into effect in February that limit their unilateral price hikes. Jennifer Waters explains in this Marketwatch piece.
And let’s not forget this screed from Ann Minch, the California woman who launched a one-person boycott of Bank of America when after 14 years as a loyal customer and never having missed a single payment, saw her annual credit-card interest rate suddenly climb to 30%. Her You Tube declaration is at 479,941 views and counting as of last night.
Something is afoot. Whether it gets effectively organized is another matter. A few thousand demonstrators did show up in Chicago at a meeting of the American Banker’s Association in late October. But whether the protests continue or not, it is undeniable that a vast resentment against the money-people covers the landscape as never before…and seems to be falling on deaf ears.