“Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager.
“Who do you think pays the taxes?” said one longtime money manager. “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.”
“I don’t think we see ourselves as the target,” said Steve Bartlett, president of the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents the nation’s biggest banks and insurers in Washington. “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.”
Without a coherent message, the crowds will ultimately thin out, Wall Street types insist — especially when the weather turns colder. They see the protesters as an entertaining sideshow, little more than flash mobs of slackers, seeking to lock arms with Kanye West or get a whiff of the antiestablishment politics that defined their parents’ generation.
“There is a view that it will be a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing,” said one financial industry official.
“When I tell people I went down to research the protests, they’re shocked, they literally laugh,” said Michael Mayo, a veteran bank analyst at Crédit Agricole Securities. “It’s just not a location they frequent.”
And elsewhere, the demi-bourgeois aspiring-wannabe litterati:
It’s not that this is a generation that doesn’t want to improve the world—been to a college activity fair lately?—but ours is a fractured involvement. The Cold War sort of settled which was the superior economic and political system, leaving youthful calls for revolution to be shouted in the context of gay rights and women’s rights and pro-Palestinian-hummus-in-the-campus-cafeteria demonstrations, which are really about improvements to the status quo, not a wholesale overthrow.
Righto. I will take that sentiment back to headquarters.