by Jesse Eisinger ProPublica,  Nov. 30, 2011, 12:12 p.m.

Note: The Trade is not subject to our Creative Commons license.

Last week, I had a conversation with a man who runs his own trading firm. In the process of fuming about competition from Goldman Sachs, he said with resignation and exasperation: “The fact that they were bailed out and can borrow for free — It’s pretty sickening.”

Though the sentiment is commonplace these days, I later found myself thinking about his outrage. Here was someone who is in the thick of the business, trading every day, and he is being sickened by the inequities and corruption on Wall Street and utterly persuaded that nothing had changed in the years since the financial crisis of 2008.

Then I realized something odd: I have conversations like this as a matter of routine. I can’t go a week without speaking to a hedge fund manager or analyst or even a banker who registers somewhere on the Wall Street Derangement Scale.

That should be a great relief: Some of them are just like us! Just because you are deranged doesn’t mean you are irrational, after all. Wall Street is already occupied — from within.

The insiders have a critique similar to that of the outsiders. The financial industry has strayed far from being an intermediary between companies that want to raise capital so they can sell people things they want. Instead, it is a machine to enrich itself, fleecing customers and exacerbating inequality. When it goes off the rails, it impoverishes the rest of us. When the crises come, as they inevitably do, banks hold the economy hostage, warning that they will shoot us in the head if we don’t bail them out.

And I won’t pretend this is a widespread view in finance — or even a large minority. You don’t hear this from the executives running the big Wall Street firms; you don’t hear it from the average trader or investment banker. From them, we get self-pity. For every one of the secret Occupy Wall Street sympathizers, there are probably 15 others like Kenneth G. Langone, who, like downtrodden people before him, is trying to reclaim and embrace a pejorative [1], “fat cat.”

The critics are more often found on the periphery, running hedge funds or working at independent research shops. They are retired, either voluntarily or not. They are low-level executives who haven’t made scrambling up the corporate hierarchy their sole ambition in life. Perhaps their independent status removes the intellectual handcuffs that come with ungodly bonuses. Or perhaps they are able to see Big Money’s flaws because they have to compete with the bigger banks for dollars.

Are these “Wall Streeters”? To civilians, they work on the Street. Bankers at the bulge-bracket firms wouldn’t think they are. But that doesn’t mean they don’t count. They know the financial business intimately.

Sadly, almost none of these closeted occupier-sympathizers go public. But Mike Mayo, a bank analyst with the brokerage firm CLSA, which is majority owned by the French bank Crédit Agricole, has done just that. In his book “Exile on Wall Street [2]” (Wiley), Mr. Mayo offers an unvarnished account of the punishments he experienced after denouncing bank excesses. Talking to him, it’s hard to tell you aren’t interviewing Michael Moore.

Mr. Mayo is particularly outraged over compensation for bank executives. Excessive compensation “sends a signal that you take what you get and take it however you can,” he told me. “That sends another signal to outsiders that the system is rigged. I truly wish the protestors didn’t have a leg to stand on, but the unfortunate truth is that they do.”

I asked Richard Kramer, who used to work as a technology analyst at Goldman Sachs until he got fed up with how it did business and now runs his own firm, Arete Research, what was going wrong. He sees it as part of the business model.

“There have been repeated fines and malfeasance at literally all the investment banks, but it doesn’t seem to affect their behavior much,” he said. “So I have to conclude it is part of strategy as simple cost/benefit analysis, that fines and legal costs are a small price to pay for the profits.”

Last week, in a Bloomberg Television event, both Laurence D. Fink, the chairman and chief executive of the mega-money management firm BlackRock, and Bill Gross, the legendary bond investor, evinced some sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street movement [3].

Over the last several decades, “money and finance have dominated at the expense of labor and Main Street, and so how can one not sympathize with their predicament?” Mr. Gross said, speaking of the 99 percent. “To not have sympathy with Main Street as opposed to Wall Street is to have blinders.”

It’s progress that these sentiments now come regularly from people who work in finance. This is an unheralded triumph of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s also an opportunity, to reach out to make common cause with native informants.

It’s also a failure. One notable absence in this crisis and its aftermath was a great statesman from the financial industry who would publicly embrace reform that mattered. Instead, mere months after the trillions had flowed from taxpayers and the Federal Reserve, they were back defending their prerogatives and fighting any regulations or changes to their business.

Perhaps a major reason why so few in this secret confederacy speak out is that they are as flummoxed about practical solutions as the rest of us. They don’t know where to begin.

Over the next year, maybe that will change. Things are going to be tough on Wall Street. Bonuses will be down. Layoffs are coming. Europe seems on the brink of another financial crisis. Maybe from that wreckage, a leader will emerge.

What’s Going On

November 3, 2011

What’s going on?

 

That seems to be the big question…..

 

Everyone is asking

 

 

Marvin Gaye sang about it back in the 70’s

 

Yet we still are asking the same questions, today….

 

 

The economy almost collapsed

 

People started looking at….

 

How the government reacted…

 

 

Why did they not see it coming?

 

 

The stimulus failed…

 

 

And the people started saying…..

 

 

No More …….

 

 

The Teaparty came from a grass roots effort

 

And have grown to be a voice

 

 

They have endorsed……

 

Reducing government spending

 

Opposition to taxation in varying degress

 

Reduction of the national debt…

 

And the reduction of the Federal Budget Deficit

 

 

Their message resonated during the 2010 elections

 

As a result we saw a total shake up in Congress

 

 

Did we get any results???

 

 

The result was total gridlock!!!!!

 

 

I do not think that is what the Teaparty had in mind…

 

 

Closing down the government….

 

 

That will not resolve anything

 

 

 

Agreed…… the Government has grown too big

 

Agreed…… the Government must be held more accountable

 

 

The stimulus was needed…

 

 

But it was mismanaged

 

There was no accountability

 

It should not have been

 

 

Carte Blanche

 

 

 

All these events leading to the collapse

 

Did not happened overnight

 

 

We put faith in our elected officials

 

 

We too, turned a blind eye

 

 

Borrowing against inflated housing values

 

 

Margining accounts

 

We all allowed this to happen

 

 

We all drank the Kool-Aid

 

 

And must take responsibility

 

 

 

Now the voices are growing

 

We are the 99%

 

 

What started in New York City

 

Has grown not only throughout the US

 

But has seen its’ presence grow around the world

 

 

There is just not 1 message

 

 

They are saying enough is enough…

 

 

 

What happened to the American Dream?

 

The land of opportunity got up and went

 

 

Overseas….

 

 

 

They are calling for the end of corporate greed

 

 

Corruption and influence over Government

 

 

No more too big to fail

 

 

Where are the jobs

 

 

 

 

How long will this go on?

 

 

Is anybody listening?

 

 

 

I do not believe anybody is protesting

 

Against the successes of the few

 

 

In the past there was an unwritten law…

 

 

Let’s make this a win / win

 

 

The more you help us to become successful

 

We will work

 

To share those successes with you

 

 

That is how the American Dream grew

 

 

Each generation working to improve

 

The Quality of life

 

For the next generation

 

 

The United States was a beacon

 

Everybody wanted to come to America

 

 

 

 

We took our eye off the ball

 

After 911,

 

 

America was united

 

Patriotism was at an all-time high

 

 

Then we got involved in several wars

 

 

Without figuring out how to pay for them

 

 

There was no shared sacrifice

 

 

President Bush told everyone to go out and shop

 

 

The deficits started rising….

 

 

It took over 200 years to get to a $1 trillion dollars
deficit

 

 

Yet in less than 30years

 

It has ballooned to just under

 

$15 trillion dollars

 

 

 

There are hard and difficult decisions to be made

 

 

Not everyone is going to be happy

 

 

But are we all prepared to start sacrificing?

 

 

Are we going to commit ourselves to a worthy goal?

 

 

 

What will be the quality of life we pass on?

 

 

To our Children….

 

 

And our Grandchildren…..

 

 

 

Will we be known as the lost generation?

 

 

How did we ever….

 

 

 

Let it go so far?

 

 

 

We are the people

 

 

We must all take on a shared responsibility

 

 

Do what needs to be done

 

 

To right the ship

 

Steady the course

 

 

Fulfill the promise America

 

Has brought to all generations

 

 

 

Like our forefathers before us

 

 

 

When asked….

 

Is the quality of life we are passing on….

 

Better than that which we have experienced

 

 

Let us stand proud and say

 

 

YES!!!