Friday, October 21, 2011

The Success of Occupy Wall Street

It is not surprising that those on the right first tried to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street (“OWS”) movement with ridicule, which some cable news outlets, including CNN (here or here) joining in. To an extent, ridicule was inevitable since this is a protest movement with grievances but no proffered solutions.

The OWS lasting power and engendering of similar demonstrations in cities across the U.S. and in Europe has effectively silenced the ridicule. Now the attempt by some GOP politicians is to characterize the OWS as a “dangerous mob.” That’s not flying too well either.

While the lasting power of OWS throughout the winter may be in doubt, it has already been successful in one respect. For all its incoherence, OWS has focused national attention on unemployment and the increasing wealth and income disparities in the U.S. It was not that long ago that most of the attention was on the debt and budget deficits of the federal government. This is an important, and welcome, change. And for those whose chief concerns are the debt and deficit, they should realize that economic growth and a reduction in joblessness would help pave the way to address those issues. In fact, many, if not most, economists think that further stimulus measures (even if you do not want to call it that) are the necessary accompaniment to longer term efforts to reduce the deficit.


  1. Are you the Norman named in this article?

    Since you worked in the US Treasury for 30 years you should know.

    Does the President's Working Group on Financial Markets keep minutes?

  2. I am probably the "Norman" quoted in the article, but the quote in an email John Crudele of the New York Post references is from an email I have not seen. What I am reported as saying, assuming the email is referring to me, seems inaccurate or not in the proper context (either in the article or perhaps the email). In any case, to be clear, I do not know what Chairman Bernanke believed about minutes of PWG meetings, nor do I know what Fed staffers wrote, if anything, about PWG meetings they attended. When I was involved with the PWG, the Treasury did not keep minutes. Other agencies may or may not have summarized the meetings for their own internal purposes.