As the heat turns up on the Occupy Wall Street movement—including the Occupy Portland kickoff today—there’ve been a few opportunities in the last couple of weeks to peek inside the minds of the Wall Street investors who tanked our economy and then profited from the crisis.
As it turns out, they see the economic crisis as another opportunity to make money, and they’re not going to be helping to create any jobs any time soon, no matter how many tax breaks we give them.
You may have seen a video circulating recently of a Wall Street trader named Alessio Rastani giving an eye-opening interview to the BBC. The BBC hosts were asking Rastani about efforts by European governments to fix the Euro economy. His bold, direct answers left the newsroom (and everyone else who’s seen the video) speechless. Here’s the video, with partial transcript below:
BBC: We keep hearing whatever the politicians are suggesting admittedly it’s all been rather wooly so far, it’s right. Can you pin down exactly what would keep investors happy and make them feel more confident?
Alessio Rastani: Ah, that’s a tough one. Ahhh – Personally, it doesn’t matter. That’s see – see – You see I’m a trader. I don’t really care about that kind of stuff. I got with – if I see an opportunity to make money, I go with that. So, for most traders it’s not about…we don’t really care that much how they’re gonna to fix – how they are gonna fix the economy, how they’re going to fix the whole situation. Our job is to make money from it. And, personally, I’ve been dreaming of this moment for 3 yrs. I – I – I have a confession, which is: I go to bed every night, I dream of another recession. I dream of another moment like this. Why? Because, ahh people don’t seem to maybe remember, the 30s depression, the depression in the 1930s wasn’t just about a market crash. There were some people who were prepared to make money from that crash. And I think anybody can do that. It isn’t just for some people in the elite. Anybody can actually make money its an opportunity. When the market crashes. When the euro and the big stock markets crash, if you know what to do, ahh if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this. For example, Hedging strategies is one, ahh then investing in bonds, treasury bonds, that sort of stuff.
…This is not a time right now to – wishful thinking, that the government is gonna sort things out. The government doesn’t rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world. Goldman Sachs does not care about this rescue package, neither does the big funds. So, actually what I would – I would actually tell people, I want to help people. People can make money from this, its not just traders. What they need to do is learn how to make money from a downward market.
Then, earlier this week, venture capitalist (and “free market” advocate) Bill Frezza gave an interview to NPR in which he spoke frankly about the fact that investors don’t actually want to create any jobs. In fact, investors want to create as few jobs as possible to maximize their profits. By admitting this, Frezza is exposing the lie behind the claims that tax breaks for the rich will lead to more jobs.
Here’s an excerpt (but I highly recommend reading/listening to the whole jaw-dropping interview):
BILL FREZZA: Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, I wanted to increase my payroll because I think it’s good for the American economy. People run businesses because they want to satisfy their customers, they want to grow, and they want to make money. Jobs are an input. Rent is an input. The raw materials are an input. Those are all the things that you put into your products and services, and your goal is to have the highest quality at the lowest cost.
Your goal is not to increase one segment of your cost because somebody tells you it aligns with social policy. So – and even though we’re in the business of creating new companies, as a venture capitalist, you know, the first question we ask in every board meeting is, what’s your head count? And we watch it like a hawk because head count is an expense that will eat you alive if the business isn’t large enough to support it.
NEARY: So what responsibility does business have in getting the economy on track so people can find work?
FREZZA: Well, businesses have the responsibility to build the best product at the best price for their customers. That’s what businesses are in business for. They do not own a responsibility to put people to work. For example, if you were to make that the major goal, you would outlaw word processors or bring back the typing pool. I remember typing pools with hundreds of people in them. They were mostly women back then, but that created a lot of jobs.
So there are a lot of ways to create jobs if that’s your goal. And if you follow any of those approaches, you will do more to hurt the economy than you will do to help it.
You know, each business is run for the benefit of its owners, its shareholders, its customers and its employees. It’s not run for the benefit of the country. That’s not why people run businesses.
Yesterday, occupants of the Chicago Board of Trade building had a little message for the Occupy Chicago protestors. In the windows of the building appeared this message: “WE ARE THE 1%.”
Image Credit: USAanon/”T”/OccupyChicago