The Occupy Wall Street movement, as we know, continues unabated — and it is spreading. But what’s their message?
It all started a month ago in the US as a protest against the inequalities created by the US financial system and it’s now happening in many parts of the world. Actually, if it is a protest against inequality, perhaps it started in Tottenham, in London, in August.
The problem for the protesters is that they don’t seem to know what they want. They need to get focus, and changing the behaviour of banks through taxation could be a good first demand — an attempt to stop “casino capitalism”.
Professor Ross Buckley, on a fulbright at Duke University in North Carolina, believes a levy on bank balance sheets is needed to stop the institutions from growing too large. He suggests the speculative transactions of banks consume a lot of capital without any productive benefit to society.
A tax on trades could also help slow the speed of speculative transactions — but, whilst it’s being considered in Europe, the US has already indicated that they don’t want to play ball. Perhaps there needs to be another significant downturn before any of these measures are given serious thought.