What the 1% Say: Grading Bankers’ Aloofness


After entrenching themselves in Zuccotti Park for weeks, the Occupy Wall Street protesters have finally grabbed the attention they originally sought. What started as a largely ignored sideshow is now a global phenomenon, and the demonstrators’ voices are being heard from Wall Street to The Hague. But what about the people who are the focus of the chants and signs, what say the bankers? The New York Times talked to members of the financial sector, many who spoke anonymously, and asked what they thought of the protests raging outside their windows.

We’ve listed their thoughts below on an easy-to-follow scale. Some quotes are from discussions with Times reporters, others are from press releases or phone conferences. All are 100% banker.

I get it, guys, I dig:
“I would also corroborate that trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that it’s Wall Street’s job to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust.”
— Citigroup chief executive Vikram S. Pandit

They have every right to keep on truckin’:
“I do vaguely remember the First Amendment that it is legal to demonstrate and it is completely fine. You should listen and not just have a knee-jerk reaction.”
— JPMorgan Chase & Company chief executive Jamie Dimon

If they went to Wharton they would understand:
“I think they’re protesting about the economy. What’s lost is that the financial services sector has to be well capitalized and well financed for the economy to recover.”
— Steve Bartlett, president of the Financial Services Roundtable

Sleeping in a park for three weeks is the most fun thing in the world:
“Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”
— Top hedge fund manager

I’m going to paraphrase a William Faulkner title, but that’s as far as I’m going to go in acknowledging the protesters:
“There is a view that it will be a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
— Financial industry official

Why are you protesting? We created more hedge fund jobs!
“The top 1 percent of New Yorkers pay over 40 percent of all income taxes, providing huge benefits to everyone in our city and state. Paulson & Company and its employees have paid hundreds of millions in New York City and New York State taxes in recent years and have created over 100 high-paying jobs in New York City since its formation.”
— John Paulson, “hedge fund titan”

The global financial market crashed because we are so good at what we do:
“Who do you think pays the taxes? Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.”
— Longtime money manager

Get a job, hippies:
“It’s not a middle-class uprising. It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”
— Veteran bank executive

In Private, Wall St. Bankers Dismiss Protesters as Unsophisticated [NYT]

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