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Monday, Oct 31 2011

When on July 13 Adbusters magazine via an e-mail sent out a call to its 90,000 –strong list proclaiming a Twitter hashtag (# OccupyWallStreet) on a date, September 17, it was hard to believe the occupy Wall Street movement will quickly spread among many cities in the U.S. and other places in the world.

The original protest began on September 17, 2011, and by October 29 similar demonstrations were either ongoing or had been held in 70 major cities and over 600 communities in the U.S. Internationally, other “Occupy” protests have modeled themselves after Occupy Wall Street in over 900 cities worldwide.

In three months, Occupy Wall Street became a worldwide movement. Thousands of people in Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, Cincinnati, Lexington, Honolulu, Dublin, and Berlin…occupied the streets to show their frustration with economic inequality and how the financial institutions continue to kill the hope of people.

A newly formed Occupy Salem organization rallied Tuesday afternoon at Rilley Plaza in downtown Salem to support Occupy Boston, protest the role that banks played in the 2008 financial crisis, and ensure that regulations are in place to prevent a repeat of the problems.

“We just want to get started and hope people notice,” said Sue Kirby, 61, a member of the group. “In Salem we’re not talking about setting up tents yet, but we want to start the dialogue about what banks are doing and what needs to happen to straighten out the situation.”

The protesters include persons of a variety of political orientations, including liberals, political independents, anarchists, socialists, libertarians and environmentalists. At the protest’s start, the majority of the demonstrators were young. However, as the protest grew the age of the protesters became more diverse, mostly related to the use of social networks. Religious beliefs are diverse as well, with both Muslin and Jewish.

According to a survey Of Zucotti Park protesters by the Baruch College School of Public Affairs published on October 19, of 1, 619 web respondents, 1/3 were older than 35, half were employed full-time, 13% were unemployed and 13% earned over $75,000. 27,3% of the respondents called themselves Democrats, 2,4% called themselves Republicans, while the rest 70% called themselves independents.

On October 10 and 11, the polling firm Penn, Schoen Berland interviewed nearly 200 protesters. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, 98% would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and 31% would support violence to advance their agenda. Most are employed, 15% are unemployed.

When asked Adbusters Kalle Lasn why it took three years after Lehman Brothers’ explosion for people to storm the streets, he said:” When the financial meltdown happened, there was a feeling that things are going to change. Obama is going to pass all kinds of laws, and we are going to have a different kind of banking system. We are going to take these financial fraudsters and bring them to justice.” There was a feeling like, “Hey, we just elected a guy who may actually to this.” In a way, there wasn’t this desperate edge. Among the young people there was a very positive feeling. And then slowly this feeling that he’s a bit of a gutless wonder slowly crept in, and now we’re despondent again.”

When asked the protesters “What frustrates you about the political process in the United States? 30% said, “influence of corporate/moneyed/special interests. “Only 6% said “income inequality” and 3% said, “Our democratic/capitalist system.” When asked, “What would you like to see the Occupy Wall Street movement achieve?, 35% said “influence the Democratic Party the way the Tea Party has influenced the GOP” and 11% said, “Break the two-party  duopoly.” Only 4% said “Radical redistribution of wealth.”

Public Opinion

An October 13 survey by Time Magazine found that 54 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the protests while 23 percent have a negative impression. An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey found that 37 percent “tend to oppose it.” An October United Technologies/National Journal Congressional polls found 59 percent of Americans agree with the movement while 31 percent disagree. An October CBS News/New York Times polls found 43% of Americans agree with Occupy Wall Street while 27% disagree.

2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain accused the movement of being “anti-capitalist” and argued “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” Republican Ron Paul came out to refute Cain by saying, “the system has been biased against the middle class and the poor…the people losing jobs, it wasn’t their fault that we’ve followed a deeply flawed economic system.” He continued to say “If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed – it would say, “good.”

2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did admit that there were “bad actors”, and the need for them to be “found and plucked out.” Romney later expressed sympathy for the movement saying, “I look at what’s happening on Wall Street and my view is, boy, I understand how those people feel.”

Several wealthy supporters have joined the protest, and have started a blog, westandwith99percent in which they say, “I am the 1% I stand with the 99%.” Surprise celebrity visits started also becoming the norm. Just over two weeks in, more than 10,000 people marched down Broadway to Liberty Plaza.

Occupy Wall Street, the movement has been developed all over the country and the world, in big cities and smaller ones. It has become No.1 press coverage during the past weeks and until today.

International Reaction

Brazil-President Dilma Rousseff said, “We agree with some of the expressions that some movements have used around the world in demonstrations like the ones we see in the U.S. and other countries.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned the “horrible repression of the Occupy Wall Street activists and expressed solidarity with the movement.”

Canadian-Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that became there was nothing like  a Canadian TARR program, he did not think Canadians were as angry as Americans.

Poland-Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and co-founder of the Polish Solidarity Movement has expressed his support for Occupy Wall Street and is considering a visit to the site.

Russia-Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev compared it to the perestroika period and the collapse of a superpower, calling the protests justified.

Vatican City-Cardinal Peter Turkson, a senior Vatican official defended the protests: “Do people at a certain time have a right to say:”Do business differently, look at the way you are doing business because this is not leading to our welfare, to our good.”

India Prime-Minister Mannohan Singh stated:” There are reasons why people are protesting. People are protesting in Wall Street, in Europe about the fat salaries that the bankers are getting when people are being asked to tighten their belts. There is a problem of growing unemployment in the United States. There is also worry in Europe. So there are problems with the system must have credible answers to take them on board.”

Saturday, Nov 05 2011

Cannes, France – After two days of talks dominated by the crisis in Greece, world leaders attending the G-20 in a strong message yesterday press European’s leaders to resolve financial problems that hurt the region and asking the 17-nation euro region to make key decisions, for example about how to guarantee that Italy will not be abandoned by global investors and need a costly bail out.

World leaders have drawn a blank in their efforts to resolve the euro zone crisis, as the G20 summit ended with no agreement on crucial measures to shore up ailing economies. The Group of 20 leading economies failed to thrash out a detailed plan to stabilize the single currency or to boost the International Monetary Fund’s ability to respond to emergencies.

A communiqué issued at the end of the summit said only that G20 nations “stand ready to ensure additional resources could be mobilized in a timely manner’ for the IMF.

Thursday, Nov 10 2011

JSF-Post, November 10, 2011

A day after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pledged to step down once the Italian Parliament passes austerity measures, U.S. and European markets plummeted as Italy borrowing cost reached the highest record yesterday.

With borrowing rates now soaring at 7.4 percent levels at which smaller euro zone countries sought bailouts, and when the European leaders scrambled to forge a back-up plan for a country too big to bail out; the Dow Jones industrial plunged in response to the uncertainty remained on the status of Berlusconi.

The uncertainty over the timing of Mr. Berlusconi's departure, kept Italy in the crosshairs of the financial markets and prompted President Giorgio Napolitano to issue a statement reaffirming that the prime minister would resign as announced and that the Italian parliament would approve austerity measures "within a few days."

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Napolitano named Mario Monti, a former European Commissioner most widely discussed candidate to guide such a government.

In a statement the president said he would either form a new government quickly or take the necessary steps to organize early elections adding that in any case "emergency measures" could be adopted "at any time", so then there was no risk of prolonged political instability.

In August, the European Central Bank demanded structural changes in exchange for buying Italian debt. The Bank also called on the government to draft additional measures to reach targets. Italy's Parliament accepted to move with uncharacteristic urgency agreeing to start discussion of the emergency measures with the goal of adopting then as early as the week-end.

Lawmakers said Parliament would push through some debt-reducing measures including cuts to local government and tax increases.

Italy's problems came just after European leaders thought they had stemmed tide by agreeing on a debt structuring for Greece and a bailout fund that was supposed to protect Italy.

Fears that Italy has "Greek flu" roil markets yesterday. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1.7% as the 10-year Italian note's yield topped 7%.

Many investors dumped their holdings of Italian government bonds prompting a global stock market sell-off.

In Stock markets, investors unleashed a wave of selling as fears grew Europe may be unable to keep the euro zone intact: Greece struggled to form a new government, and Italy's borrowing costs set a record.

Goldman Sachs Group said it had losses on trading on 21 days in the third quarter, the most since the fourth quarter of 2008. This year, Goldman relied on trading for 62 percent of its revenue. And the bank the fifth-biggest in the United States by assets, had $2.82 billion of "funded" credit exposure to Italy's government and companies.

General Motors Co stock fell the most since GM's initial public offering nearly a year ago. European operations lost $ 292 million before interests and taxes in the third quarter the Detroit-based automaker said, and the unit's performance could be worse in the fourth quarter.

Barclays bank yesterday issued a note saying that Italy "may be beyond the point of no return."

A letter to Tremont sent last week by Olli Rehn European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs expressed doubts that the Italian's authorities would "ensure the achievement of a balanced budget in 2013."

Also, as broader worries and concerns that Italy may no longer be able to finance its debt burden, traders have started to directly sell Italian's bond futures making Italian bonds to lose value.

Not only investors been dumping Italian bonds that they own, they have been ramping up their negative bets by selling Italian bond futures, too.

Many analysts say that because the Greek debt write-down did not set off credit-default swaps that are supposed to serve as insurance on Italian bonds, investors concluded the hedges they had in place don't offer sufficient protection, another reason for investors to sell debt and reduce their exposure.

The Italian bond market is the only large market in the euro zone outside of Germany to offer investors the ability to buy or sell futures contracts. That has allowed many investors to use Italian futures to place bearish bets on Italy.

"The futures market for Italian bonds has become the main conduit now for all investor angst with regard to the euro zone," said Yra Harris, a trader at Praxis Trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

As interest rates on Italian bonds peaked at about 7.48 percent, the European Central Bank intervened by buying the debt, traders said, and causing rates to fall slightly. But this latest phase of Europe's financial crisis is putting a new focus on the ECB, with many expecting it to have to act more aggressively.

A spokesman for the International Monetary Fund said that the fund had no plans to offer Italy financial assistance at that moment.

Meanwhile, banks have been offloading Italian bonds to reduce their exposure, and investors took negative bets on Italy by selling bonds futures.





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