Evidence that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has reshaped the discourse in the national financial sector is ample, as working groups continue to organize events to recreate a new kind of banking system.
Most executive directors at major financial services firms say that OWS has made a mark on their businesses, according to a study conducted by a financial services research firm Echo Research and Makovsky.
"Banks and financial services firms have now shifted their focus from liquidity and financial performance to customer satisfaction and their own employees," Makovsky executive Scott Tangney said in a March 27 Huffington Post article. "The Occupy Wall Street Movement has indicated to firms where they need to be focusing."
"A lot of these people are from finance or have a background in law or SEC regulation. There's lots of people from banks and hedge funds." - Cathy O'Neil, Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall StreetInfluential establishment financiers are organizing meetings and conferences with the purpose of discussing future and current regulatory reform and to address new resolution structures that can be implemented.
A convocation of bankers, lawyers, financial leaders and academics met on March 27 to discuss the creation of new global regulatory authorities, according to the conference's event page.
Among conference speakers was Henry Kaufman, a financial consultant and economist who predicted during the 1970s how mega-conglomerates would affect interest rate shifts and ultimately concentrate political power and wealth, according to a March 30 Huffington Post article. Another speaker present at the conference was Ira Millstein, lawyer, lecturer and author on corporate governance and anti-trust regulation.
Both Kaufman and Millstein echoed the same conclusions about the concentration of money and power in the American economy as did the OWS movement, according to the Huffington Post piece.
Other OWS working groups engaged in the discussion of the banking system's renovation include the Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Bank Working Group, according to a March 27 National Public Radio report.
A mix of current and former financial industry workers in their 30s, 40s and 50s, members of the Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street meet weekly to discuss potential legislation and regulation to reform the American financial system.
"We have almost no consensus opinion, except that the system is not working," Cathy O'Neil, group member and quantitative analyst at a hedge fund, said on NPR. "A lot of these people are from finance or have a background in law or SEC regulation. There's lots of people from banks and hedge funds."
"To the extent that actually we're talking about setting up an alternative system, that's pretty radical stuff." - Carne Ross, Occupy Bank Working Group
The Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street has also written for the Financial Times about dealing with banks that were too big to fail, according to NPR.
Another working group promoting a new kind of bank is the Occupy Bank Working Group. According to one of the group's facilitators, former British diplomat Carne Ross, the banking system is so dysfunctional that people in the finance sector share the same concerns as the people who were sleeping in New York City's Zuccotti Park.
"To the extent that actually we're talking about setting up an alternative system, that's pretty radical stuff," Ross said in a March 27 NPR report. "And the fact that you have Wall Street bankers, former regulators, hedge fund traders, as part of that project, I find pretty striking."
Ross and the Occupy Bank Working Group aspire to the construction of a national bank, resembling the ShoreBank, opened in the 1970s and once the largest certified community development financial institution in the United States.
"A bank that would be democratic, that would be owned by its employees and by its customers, it would be transparent," NPR quoted Ross. "It would follow banking practices that did not expose the broader economy to systemic risk."
Diana Petrova can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.