#OccupyWallSt sign of the day: "It's Wrong."

Snapped by Ben Furnas. Protester/sign-maker's name unknown. Ben got another funny shot here.


  1. she said a mouthful. the #OccupyReno event was peaceful, and went off without a single problem that i’m aware of.

    1. The ploy was incredibly intricate and sophisticated. Of course the people need to up their collective cognitive ability in order to compete on the securitized collateralized multi tier time bomb playing field. This site http://www.piggybankblog.com/2011/10/10/johns-bofa-daily-blog-3/ has been untying it for 2 years.

  2. Spot on. It should be illegal. Or at the very least, the bank and the rating agencies should be liable.

  3. I don’t get it. Where are the Tea Party blog posts being amazed at the numerous instances of correct spelling? Why isn’t Fox on to the dangerous new wave of orthography sweeping the world?

    1. There to busy either pretending it isn’t happening or that it’s just a bunch of anti-American mobs bent on destroying the country. You know their moto, all the news certain to inflame, point the blame and guaranteed inane. 

    1. Kari from Mythbusters?

      Definitely looks like her!  (Not a stalker, I’m a Scotty guy myself.)

  4. I had an argument with someone over CDOs (the thing sign is complaining about).    There is a legitimate question about who knew what when.  A lot of people in the industry truly thought that CDOs were the magic AAA securities that they were claimed to be and were too awesome to fail.  The reason why some people get very stupid rich at the crash was because they recognize this early and get in on the ground floor of betting against people who hadn’t realized that they were crap yet with CDCs.  

    The banks that got bailed out, those are the ones that didn’t realize the economy was about to implode and that the CDOs were crap.  Most of them were in fact stupid.  It is great to see we saved them.The other group were people who were acting as intermediaries who never held on to CDOs to sell them.  Those people were liars.This just lets you make a nice clear distinction.  For the people involved heavily with CDOs, the question becomes, “okay, so are you stupid or a liar?”Of course, the real victims are the poor saps who had their retirement fund managed by some company that was either stupid or lying.  Either way, they are screwed now. 

    1. If you only look at the maths, and not the reality behind the maths, CDOs work brilliantly. The problem is that most financial innovation happens at the ‘edge’ rather than the ‘core’, so multiple models are often combined without checking the assumptions of each of those models for internal consistency with one another. The result is an obvious mess, but its obviousness is only apparent to the degree one chooses to acknowledge the world outside of the Bloomberg terminal and the Excel sheet.

      So, lots of smart people were surprised by the implosion of all of these financial instruments. In fact, the smartest (in the academic sense) were probably surprised the most.

      1. Well…isn’t it true that the math works brilliantly AS LONG AS the market is expanding?  That was my understanding: as long as real value is increasing, there’s enough for some to be skimmed off by those creating the CDOs and NOT screwing the buyer.  When the underlying securities fall, only the seller of the CDO benefits, and then only until the buyers start to crash. 

        I’m not a financial wiz, so I may easily be wrong. 

        1. The biggest problem (there were others in specific cases) with the mortgage-backed securities that started the current crisis was that the likelihood of default on a given mortgage was modelled to be independent from the likelihood of default of all of the other mortgages underlying the derivative. In other words, if I defaulted, you as my neighbour would not be any more likely to default.

          This is, of course, completely stupid, but the maths work out to be so much nicer if you have all of your assets doing a nice, independent random walk, and the random walk bit is assumed in so much of market finance that by the time you are lost in models of increasing complexity, you forget to question even some of the simplest assumptions.

          Honestly, from what I see it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much of finance that rests on assumptions that only work because everyone trusts them to work that it’s beyond a house of cards, in my opinion.

          1. Ooh, now THAT’s fascinating!  An assumption of mutual independence, probably completely acknowledged by the theorists, but ignored by the practitioners angling for easy bucks!  Multiply by a jillion for good measure!  [Sorry for all the exclamation points, but they seem justified in this case!  Oops, sorry.  :^) ]

  5. but they didn’t create the mortgage-backed securities for their clients to buy. they made them for the clients to short, and let the suckers buy them.

  6. I’m not going to say what the sign says is wrong, or that it is right to create such securities, but is it wrong to create the mortgages in the first place?

    Given multiple scenarios, we obviously ended up with people are dumb and want more than they can afford.  But what if people looked at these mortgages and said hell no, or I have the money to pay it off in 5 years or so and while I have little to no interest I’ll invest that money?  Obviously if no one bought them the securities would still fail, so either way someone was counting on enough suckers to be born.

    1. Given multiple scenarios, we obviously ended up with people are dumb and want more than they can afford.

      No, the problem is we ended up with people who weren’t well versed in finance who were ADVISED that they could afford mortgages by experts who should have known better. Who DID know better but did it anyway, in many cases. If the housing market hadn’t been turned into a game of hot potato then banks wouldn’t have been pushing all these loans on people who were at such high risk of default.

    2. The problem was people were giving loans to people who never should have had them – at least not for the amounts they were getting. One of the reasons people fell for the idea was that one could look at how much housing rates were climbing, thinking one could refinance at a later point easily because the equity in the house would be much greater than the cost of the loan. Of course – many people buying houses were just ignorant to all of this. It’s like you apply for a credit card that you really should not get – and not only do they give it to you, but you get some sort of crazy $10,000 limit.

      But yeah – the poison assets that the gov. ate were fucking criminal. Freddie Mac and Fanny Fae also fell down on the job.

  7. It just rolls of the tongue as a slogan! Chant after me! It’s wrong to create a mortgage-backed security filled with loansalasfjnvxv.x…..

  8. This is a protest sign I can get behind. Unfortunately, legitimate grievances rarely make for catchy chants.

  9. ObSF: This sign is a violation of Heinlein’s razor. “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

    On the other hand, it’s also wrong to take money for your supposedly-superior knowledge of markets while having no idea of what you were doing.

  10. tl;dr

    Just kidding. She is spot on, there were absolutely criminal acts of fraud committed. But since nobody got a blowjob in this particular scandal the average American doesn’t really give a fuck about it.

  11. The young woman holding the sign is certainly attractive, and her expression is pleasant and hopeful. The sign itself is literate. The sign’s content is logical, and if the facts were as the sign presumes, then I’d give the whole thing a thumb’s up.

    But the facts aren’t as the premise assumes (as several other commenters here have noted to one degree or another). In fact, there was a thriving sub-industry in the legal profession in negotiating and then drafting these particular securities; it is now, was then, and has been regulated for many years. The appropriate disclosures generally were made.

    The problem wasn’t nondisclosure, but, rather, misjudgment about those facts that were disclosed. Chief among them was a misjudgment shared by a great many investors who believed that you could effectively mitigate high risks by bundling them together with enough built-in pooling and hedging.

    Part of the bundling process and the risk mitigation that was supposed to be associated with it were complicated hedging arrangements with the default risk being insured. But contrary to the original assumptions behind this additional risk mitigation, one company — AIG — ended up insuring a wildly disproportionate number of these risks. When defaults on the underlying home mortgages proved higher than predicted (but not much higher than ought to have been expected, actually), and when the system was stressed and some of those risk mitigation techniques (like insurance) ought to have kicked in to help stabilize the system, what happened instead was that those stresses revealed AIG’s inability to actually pay off on all its policies all at once.

    What almost no commenters here have mentioned yet, however, is that the making of so many bad underlying loans — i.e., the approval of so many high risk mortgages with no or low downpayments and without regular underwriting standards being applied to exclude bad risks — was not just a function of greed either on Wall Street or on Maple Street. It was driven directly by *government mandate* under legislation dating back to the Clinton Administration. The early Bush Administration, too, shared in the drive to have the federal government put a thumb on the market scales in order to artificially encourage home ownership. And this not only maintained a pumped up supply of bad mortgages to bundle, but also made two quasi-governmental corporations, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, owners of last resort. Democrats in Congress blocked efforts to investigate and reform those organizations in 2006-2007, which was the last clear chance to avoid the calamity.

    I wish, then, that this protest had been reworded to expand its critique to those politicians who enabled and arguably bear most moral responsibility for the financial collapse that resulted in the government bailouts. She should be picketing Barney Frank and Frank Dodd too.

    1. I wish, then, that this protest had been reworded to expand its critique to those politicians who enabled and arguably bear most moral responsibility for the financial collapse that resulted in the government bailouts. She should be picketing Barney Frank and Frank Dodd too.

      You’re free to make your own sign and head on out there if you think it’s important enough.  If not, we’ll continue to listen to her as well because she’s making an effort here.

    2. Wmjdyer, please. The reason for the explosion in high-risk mortgages is the same as the reason for the explosion in daft dot-com companies in the 1990s or of tulip growers in 17th Century Netherlands. That reason is hot money. When demand for an asset class explodes sub-standard providers of those assets will always spring up to meet it.

      Think of it this way – if demand for softened chocolate became such that people would willingly fork over billions of dollars without much looking at, smelling, or tasting what came in the package (mostly because everyone is buying in the hopes of profitably reselling it to someone else), how long would it take before some enterprising people figured out they could sell shit?

      No lender would lend money they knew was not going to be repaid. They would only lend money if they knew that the default risk could be passed to someone else. And in the past 7-10 years the risk increasingly could be passed onto someone else through debt securitisation, because some novel mathematical models at the time seemingly demonstrated that with a little repackaging and insurance, default risk would magically vanish. Hence, the soaring demand for ABSs and hence all the sub-prime mortgages being issued.

      No government intervention is ever necessary for bubbles – a fundamentally broken financial system is all it takes.

    3. No No No, it was not driven by gvt mandate. Fannie and Freddie have guidelines, private lenders falsified loan documents to get gvt guarantees. This has happend 4 times previously, all under republican administrations when regulations were relaxed or regulators forced to look the other way. The greedy ya yas up there is wall street did in in the S&L crisis in the 80’s, in 92 in early 200 decade and finally their greed killed the cow in 08 but so what, they walked away will billions and no repercussions. Why not keep doing it over and over.
      Simple terms this is what happened, the mortgages bundled into investment bonds were the hot product to sell to investors. With mortgages the riskier the loan the higher the interest rate payout to the investor. Push lenders to write all the risky paper possible at the highest interest rates possible so they can be bundled and sold for a profit was the game. No risk to the lender because they are sold off to the clueless investor. The actual property and people with loans were incidental.
      Big note here, if you have an adjustable mortgage you are going to refinance or sell  to insure you don’t actually end up paying the 30 year rate, anyone with a mortgage knows that. SO these bond packages would never have paid out what they were written as, either because of default, flipping the property or refinancing. They were always loosers and the instigators new that, the rest just decided to jump on the band wagon under pressure to make the same profits as other trading houses. big ponsi scheme with no one going to jail or being barred from doing it again.
      Anyone buying the hate campaign on Dodd Frank are as clueless and complicit as those that got us into this friggen disaster.

  12. I used to work in the mortgage backed securities industry (I am not, nor was I ever, part of the 1%;
    I am also quite happy to say I was in no way responsible for and never took part in the poor
    judgement and/or greed that tanked the economy).  

    Almost every word of
    this sign is wrong.

    * Nobody “knew” the loans were going to fail.  The loans were low-quality loans, yes, but the “pool” of loans had what people that was sufficient “insurance” to cover any losses.
    * The client was ABSOLUTELY aware what was in these loans.
    * “Sabotage” implies deceit.  EVERYBODY knew that these securities relied on less-than-stellar-quality loans.  The panacea solution, so we were told at the time, was that all the loans had sufficient “insurance” (in the form of reserves, overcollateralization, etc.) to cover predicted losses.
    * The loans weren’t misleadingly rated.  The loans weren’t rated at all.  The securities were rated; the loans made up the securities.

    I guess ultimately doesn’t matter – the goal of OWS isn’t greater understanding of the finance industry.  And hey, cute girl holding a big sign.

    1. * Nobody “knew” the loans were going to fail.  The loans were
      low-quality loans, yes, but the “pool” of loans had what people that was
      sufficient “insurance” to cover any losses.

      At the beginning maybe.  Towards the end (2007s) the people at Magnestar, Goldman Sachs, George Soros “knew” that the loans were going to fail.  They deliberately designed the CDO to implode.  This is the reason why Goldman Sachs was force to play 1/2 a billion (with a b) for fraud.

      The client was ABSOLUTELY aware what was in these loans.

      CDOs were too complex for ANYBODY to know exact what was in them, there were literally too many loans put in.

      * “Sabotage” implies deceit.

      George Soros, GS, and Magnestar all deliberately picked loans that they knew were going to fail.  The customer was NEVER informed of this, and it was highly irregular for them to do so.  See point 1 about 500 Million for Fraud.  (Oh, and they happily paid, what was then the largest securities penalty in history, because they made substantially more)

      Sorry, it’s pretty clear that Wall Street investors deliberately created flawed products, didn’t inform their customers, and then bet against those products.  It also seems likely with the way that AIG was handled that this was partially done with the collusion of the gov’t, whole paid out 100% of AIGs loses, instead of a more standard percentage.

      So, hey cute girl, with a very accurate, true, and damning sign.  You go girl!

    2. re: “Nobody “knew” the loans were going to fail”

      I beg to differ. I recall more than one person predicting a fall, and anyone who wasn’t too wrapped up to be blind to it would know that this bubble couldn’t grow forever (similar to the internet tech bubble circa 2000.)

      re: “”Sabotage” implies deceit. ”

      I think there was deceit practiced by some people/organizations. They knew what they were doing.

    3. “EVERYBODY knew that these securities relied on less-than-stellar-quality loans. ”


      “The loans weren’t misleadingly rated. The loans weren’t rated at all. The securities were rated; the loans made up the securities.”

      The states whose retirement funds were swapped from T-bills to these securites apparently did not know any of what you say they knew.

    4. I have the impression–perhaps incorrect–that one of the biggest problems with these financial instruments is that they create no value…that they feed ‘vampire-like’ off of the value of the underlying securities without truly adding anything.  They reallocate dollars from little old ladies’ mutual funds into bankers pockets.  I’m not trying to be a jerk, that really is my impression! 

    5. You may have been honest but there is a huge mountain of evidence that mortgage brokers, appraisers and loan granters falsified a lot of information to make loans that should not have been made. The loans were sought by wall street to bundle and sell to investors. Wall street drove crazy demand for risky loans which paid higher interest as bonds than standard loans and were definitely not properly rated for risk. This has happened 4 times in the last 25 years, it started in the 80s with the S&L mess after changes in regulations under the Regan administration. And it occurred again in early 90’s and then early 2000’s before completely tanking the country in 2008. These morons did it over and over with no repercussions walking away will billions that they took off the table screwing the country and millions of individual Americans. Fannie and Freddie were actually last in and late to the party and although their oversight of their providers was lacking most of the bad loans they had involved falsified information from outside brokers to obtain guarantees.
      Here is a nice tidbit, the CEO from countrywide walked away from the company leaving B of A with a toxic asset only to start another company fully financed by the government bailout money to refinance the very mortgages his company has prolifically produced that were a shaky house of cards to begin with. Talk about someone who should have Americans staked out on his lawn with neon signs of shame.

      1. You may have been honest but there is a huge mountain of evidence that mortgage brokers, appraisers and loan granters falsified a lot of information to make loans that should not have been made.

        They’re still doing it. I’ve seen some completely inappropriate loans in the last year or two.

  13. We could tax everyone 100%.  The fact will still remain that our government is the most wasteful, crony-ridden system in human history.  All your cash will be pissed away in a war, into a Halliburton pocket or into an Air Force ashtray.  Caveat emptor.

    1. “The fact will still remain that our government is the most wasteful, crony-ridden system in human history. ”

      You haven’t travel much outside of the US or actually studied much history have you.

  14. Love the sign, it  is the all-caps legalese proper. The only worrying piece – I can actually understand it, which means it is seriously lacking  compared to the 1% speak.

  15. Probably too late and no one will read this, but you may want to reconsider the title of this post. It may give people an impression other than the one you’re hoping for.

  16. Here’s a slightly simpler text care of William Black:

    Accounting Control Fraud (or how to create fictitious profit and massive, non-fictitious bonuses):

    Grow like crazyMake preposterously bad loans but at a premium yield.Have extreme leverage. That means you have a ton of debt.Put aside only ridiculously low allowances for future loan losses.Guaranteed results: a) you get rich (everyone else suffers)  b) company is destroyed (or worse, bailed out, compounding future suffering in a) above.

    William Black is required reading: http://www.newdeal20.org/2010/03/30/bill-black-not-dead-yet-9279/

  17. Protester is the multi-talented @cecurran. We did indeed take the text from Conor Friedersdorf’s piece in the Atlantic. Glad it’s inspired some healthy debate here.

  18. Yep. It’s wrong to borrow lots of money and not pay it back. Banks, people buying property, but above all governments. 

  19. I’m protesting because Itchy and Scratchy are indirectly responsible for my husband being hit on the head with a mallet.

  20. I think that’s the best sign I’ve seen yet. Not a super fan of these protestors mostly because I think they are protesting the wrong places. They should be protesting outside the SEC, DOJ, and the White House. Those are the people who aren’t prosecuting the people who were involved is these fraudulent CDO’s. I can’t for the life of me understand how the rating agencies are getting away with their false rating under the argument that they have a first amendment right to do so. What?????? They were paid to make a rating and falsified it or didn’t carry out due diligence so why aren’t they culpable? That’s only one area that needs to be addresses by the DOJ.

    They can go after Martha Stewart and jail her for a $4ok use of an eraser but they can’t go after Goldman Sachs? Hate to burst your bubble kids but Bush was a lot better at going after these guys. His DOJ prosecuted people and made sure Enron and the people who abetted them were out of business.

    1. It they protested outside the whitehouse, DOJ and SEC the 1% would claim it was proof that regulation was bad, the aforementioned were  responsible for all the problem int he country and we should kill all policing and legislation. i think they are in the perfect place drawing attention to people who like to live in the shadows. Only way to make them uncomfortable enough to actually back off of their nitwit political manipulations to get legislation skewed primarily to their own gain.

Comments are closed.