I will preface this entry by saying my morning ritual starts with coffee and CNBC. I love the stock market and invest whenever I can. I find it a wise long-term investment and enjoy doing the research. I run Yahoo Finance all day long. I check my accounts all the time and do not get overly concerned win or lose. But then again that is just me. In recent news we have seen this global phenomena of people protesting Wall Street and the financial markets.. It has spread like locusts across the United States and across the oceans. My buddies at CNBC Jim Cramer, Joe Kernan, Becky Quick and whomever else is on in the morning show are confused as to what they are protesting and what the protesters want. I don’t think it is that hard to figure out. People in America understand Wall Street they just don’t want it running their country. I wonder how often the CNBC folks follow current events and what the impact of those event are. It’s the latter that concerns me more, I think they are on top of the former. Is Wall Street just so disengaged from main stream America that they really don’t know what is happening . So what do the protesters want? For starters CNBC they would love for you to all to be fired and your network to be shut down. Remember I like your show, but I am just saying…
If we go back in time and just review what the internet and cable networks have meant for Wall Street, in short it has been nothing less than monumental. If you remember before the internet investing was done over a phone. How your account was viewed was through a monthly statement. To place a trade was expensive. I remember the first trades I did were $69. You really had to factor that in to your return on investment. Now trading is done online and you can view your statements whenever you want. The cost to trade is less than $10. The cable networks supply a steady flow of up to date business news. Earning reports, Tax Cut discussions, political leaders and CEO’s, who have more or less become pop stars. The stream of information we are given is endless and relentless. We have the ability to make thousands upon thousands of dollars in a relatively short time. The down side of course is we can lose that money in a relatively short time, which brings us back to where we are today. When things began to unravel it happened very quickly. Then homes just started being repossessed. No one was ready. This left us with a nation of angry people. Which is where we are now.
Andrew Ross-Sorkin wrote the epic book “Too Big to Fail”, which detailed our current economic downfall. It is a great book, detailing the events and activities of all the power players in the financial services sector and in government. It was a lot of late night dinners at high-class restaurants. Corporate jets flying crossing the Pacific and Atlantic. Interactions with government officials at the highest level. The cast of characters is vast and includes; Lehman-Brothers CEO Dick Fuld, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Tim Geitner President of the New York Fed etc..It is an impressive line up of individuals. All playing with and trying to hold onto the power they wield on day-to-day society. They come off as economic puppet masters playing with a group of puppets called the economy. The good news is they are all in fine health and living well. Dick Fuld still has his retreat in Sun Valley. Which brings us back to our protesters and why they are angry. As engrossing as the book is, it never mentions the people who make up the economy. Your neighbors, your friends, co-workers, at the end of the day these are the people who make up the economy. What was happening to them while Goldman-Sachs and others played God? Do any of these people know what life is like without a job or health insurance? Hundred’s of thousands of people in America no longer have a home that they own. These are many of the people who are angry at Wall Street.
As the economy continues to sputter along it seems obvious (at least to me) that people are going to start to get a little roiled with these so-called prophets of Wall St. While these great and mighty business leaders are having double martini’s with caviar there are people in the real world with real world problems. Families whose house was foreclosed. Children with medical issues, but no health insurance. Fathers and mothers collecting unemployment. These issues add a heavy weight and pressure to everyone involved. It has been going on since the fall of 2008 and people are getting tired. And the worst part? Everyone says it’s not getting better, that it could be another year or two before we turn the corner. In the meantime Wall Street gets excited by great earnings. Sometimes good products (Apple comes to mind), other times through cutting costs, or layoffs. While Bob heads to unemployment, Cramer says good job Apple or Goldman. It has become that our lives are governed by Wall Street. America emigrants left Great Britain as they were tired of being ruled by despot monarchs. Now we are ruled by something much stronger but far less tangible.
After all this, when the protests break out CNBC cannot seem to understand why? Funny thing is Cramer used to be one of them. Back in his hippy days and then he lost his hair and needed to change direction. When one looks at the people who make up the protesters there are the people impacted and those who are just joining the work force. Those who have experienced reality and those that are young and are idealists. Neither of whom should be ignored. It is not that different from what happened at the turn of the century as average Americans began to turn against the Vanderbilt’s and JP Morgans of the world. the so-called “Robber Barons”. One of the biggest issues people had then and they have today is the access these people have to power, namely Capitol Hill. Corporate Execs go to Capitol Hill seeking tax breaks and access to government programs that result in big payouts. These big payouts being funded by you and I through our tax dollars. Democracy is 100% not 1%. It would be wise for many leaders in America to remember that.
In the end CNBC, people are tired and hope is beginning to wane. While you prop up government officials and corporate CEO’s the real America waits. They wait to return to a job, a career. to provide for their families, to be insured. Those things that we have become accustomed to that now seem to be slipping out of our reach. Maybe if you did a human interest story and talked to the actual people who make up the economy. Maybe then you would understand. Until then tells us all your ivy league theories and enjoy another Manhattan (Makers Mark please) for me. Choose to ignore the real economy. That is the protesters outside your door. They are the economy now and the economy moving forward. They should be the ones you worship. They are America. Remember I am a big fan of yours…but I am just saying.
Good Night and Good Luck
Hans Henrik Hoffmann November 1, 2011