Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good Timing

By Carl
This could not happen at a better time.

NEW YORK - Two days after the encampment that sparked the global Occupy movement was cleared by authorities, demonstrators in New York City and around the country were promising mass gatherings Thursday in support of the cause.

In San Francisco Wednesday, anti-Wall Street activists swarmed into a Bank of America branch and tried to set up camp in the lobby. About 100 demonstrators rushed into the bank, chanting "money for schools and education, not for banks and corporations."

Thursday's day of action had been planned before New York City and park owners cracked down on the encampment in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, but took on added importance to the protesters after tents, tarps and sleeping bags were cleared out early Tuesday and the granite plaza was cleaned for the first time since the group arrived more than two months ago.

"We will get boots on the ground again," said Rory Simpson, 29, who described himself as an itinerant activist as he made signs Wednesday evening. "This is not over yet."

So long as it's not boots to asses, everything should be OK. The idea is to take the message where it matters: to the people, and to the bankers.

The bankers won't care, but they must be challenged. The people will care, and they will listen-- most of them. It wouldn't surprise me if a counterprotest shows up, but so what?

This is all happening against the backdrop of two events. First, the attempt two nights ago to shut down OWS by throwing them out of Zuccotti Park, and second...

U.S. banks face a “serious risk” that their creditworthiness will deteriorate if Europe’s debt crisis deepens and spreads beyond the five most-troubled nations, Fitch Ratings said.

“Unless the euro zone debt crisis is resolved in a timely and orderly manner, the broad credit outlook for the U.S. banking industry could worsen,” the New York-based rating company said yesterday in a statement. Even as U.S. banks have “manageable” exposure to stressed European markets, “further contagion poses a serious risk,” Fitch said, without explaining what it meant by contagion.

The “exposures” of U.S. lenders to major European banks and the stressed nations of Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, known as the GIIPS, are smaller than those to some of the continent’s larger countries, Fitch said.

I respect Fitch Ratings, and have oftened referred to them on some matters. This time, however, I think they may be understating the case a bit.

The "GIIPS" problem is deeper than the European Union has admitted.

Think about it this way: who is holding the debt of those nations, about to default? Mostly, it's European banks. Some of those banks are on fairly stable ground, to be sure, but many are not. Indeed, some received bailout packages from the US in 2008 and 2009. And now, we're directly bailing out the EU.

Let me rephrase that: our debt is holding together their debt.

So if you went to the bank and mortgaged your house, then your neighbor came to you and said "Listen, I'm tapped, and I need to get my house fixed. Can you lend me a few?" Now you're not only in danger if you run into trouble, but if your neighbor loses his house, you've lost that money, as well. Yea, you can pay it back over time, but that's income you won't have later on.

Now, five nations are on the hook. Italy and Greece have had a minor crisis already. Of those five, while it's not likely all five will fold, it's also unlikely that none will.

If one does, it's conceivable the EU can survive. If two go, all bets are off. And two are already on the brink, barring a sudden influx of discipline and growth.

Meanwhile, Occupy will be keeping a public face for those who did not get a Fed-approved bailout two or three years ago. Occupy will humanize for the dishuman right wingers the face of the 99%. And Occupy will remind Bernanke and Obama that there is a more pressing need than bailing out Goldman Sachs or Citibank: bailing out people who have fallen through the cracks.

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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