Richard Wottrich was quoted in a Xinhua (China Daily) article on October 17, 2011, entitled “Occupy Wall Street protests weighing on U.S. future.”
Chinese leadership is quite naturally keenly interested in the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations and their iterations globally. Baoping Zhang, Chicago Bureau Chief of the Chinese government news giant, Xinhua, contacted me for a comment on the implications of this “movement,” which appeared in its Global Edition article dated October 17, 2011.
This unrest is observed in China as well – Police in China have detained 72 people after thousands rioted in China’s eastern Zhejiang province in Zhili, a children’s clothing manufacturing city, in what began as a protest over taxes, local authorities said. These riots reflect growing resentment among millions of ordinary Chinese left behind by the country’s economic boom and their frustration at official corruption.
Occupy Wall Street protests weighing on U.S. future
English.news.cn 2011-10-17 13:01:27
by Katherine Harbin
CHICAGO, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) — The distrust and resentment manifested by Occupy Wall Street protesters towards the U.S. financial system could bear precarious consequences on the future of the United States, experts have told Xinhua.
Although the protesters account for only a small percentage of the national population, their frustration with the current economy and some of the government’s policies are shared by many, they said, citing similar rallies in dozens of other U.S. cities as evidence.
“America is in the midst of a massive ideological debate about the future of the country — what its economy will look like, and the role of capitalism and big government in America,” Richard Wottrich, a senior managing director at the McLean Group, told Xinhua.
Though it is still too early to tell what would be the legacy of the protests, the ongoing social movement may prove influential in determining the future course of the country at this difficult hour in its history, Wottrich said.
Luigi Zingales, a professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, echoed that the protests are “an indication of all the underlying forces that lead to some form of popular revolt or popular dissatisfaction.”
“The question is how this will be channeled politically. And depending on how it will be channeled, we might have completely different outcomes,” the professor added.
The Occupy Wall Street protests, Zingales noted, incorporate some forms of populism, namely movements by the common people against those they see as elites, which has been associated with both exploitative pandering and constructive change in history.
The broadly-shared sentiment behind the protests would potentially make the movement fairly easy to recruit support and expand influence, said the professor, who predicted in a 2009 article that populism would grow in the United States following the 2008 financial crisis.
Together with colleagues from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Zingales has developed a financial trust index that measures changes in the U.S. public’s trust towards the financial system and private institutions.
The most recent research on the index, Zingales told Xinhua, showed a markedly decline in public trust towards banks.
The professor added that behind the protesters’ choice of Wall Street as their major target is their increasing hostility towards the cooperation between the government and big corporations, although the public-private partnership is central to the U.S. economic system.
“The public-private partnership is designed to have the efficiency of the private sector and the goals of the public sector, and I fear it ends up being the efficiency of the public sector and the goals of the private sector,” Zingales said.
“What happens is basically taxpayers are subsidizing private profits… That is not what these people from Occupy Wall Street want,” he said.
Although the United States has adopted legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to regulate financial services, many U.S. citizens accuse the present measures of being insufficient and call for more action.
Editor: Yamei Wang