Wall Street is both a physical location and a metaphor for many things. Wall Street is a metaphor for U.S. stock markets, stock markets, bond markets, futures markets, options markets, commodities markets, OTC markets, banking, investment banking, even business and CEOs…. the list goes on.
Even if the Occupy Wall Street movement has a financial focus, the term “Wall Street” is just too overloaded. And that is assuming the folks gathered there are focused on financial institutions and markets. Some are protesting the Federal Reserve, others the Government, others corporations, others still capitalism. Most are upset about our crappy US economy.
I think much of America looks at the financial world as a mysterious black box, or as a series of opaque entities tied together in a labyrinth only a few now how to navigate.
Some view this financial black box as useful. They invest in mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and ETFs. They take out mortgages and buy insurance. They trust their investment advisers, or go it alone and trust in themselves.
Others view the financial black box as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy”. Some from this group are part of Occupy Wall Street.
I have many good things to say about the version of “Wall Street” that I use. However, I am critical of many parts of Wall Street that I don’t use. Number 1 on my sh– list are many (not all) financial advisers and stock brokers. All too often they put people into funds that are commission-laden, undiversified, and unsuited to the needs of their clients, just to make a lot of extra bucks for themselves. Number 2 on my list are financial analysts (many, not all) whose job seems to be pumping up investments for their proprietary trading beneficiaries.
Nonetheless there are many good things about “Wall Street” and US markets in general. Vastly lower commissions on (online) trades, decimal pricing, lower spreads, low-cost ETFs and mutual fund (esp. index and enhanced-index funds). Free stock quotes and online research.
Back to Occupy Wall Street. I might as well join (though not support per se) with some virtual protests.
- I want a full, independent, and complete audit of the the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury [no I am *not* a Ron Paul supporter].
- I want all shareholder initiatives that pass to be legally binding.
- I want, at a minimum, the right as an index ETF or mutual fund to have my portion of shares be abstain votes (e.g. the fund manager may not vote *my* shares).
- I want (and this is a stretch!) no exit packages for failed CEOs. I’m fine for paying for real success, but I am not fine with paying for failure. If a new CEO wants a financial exit package of more than zero dollars, I want a CEO with more self confidence.
- I want the government to get out of the bailout business.
If any of you Occupy Wall Street (or Occupy XYZ) folks want to use my protests, be my guest.