Protest JP Morgan at noon on Wednesday #OccupyJPM #OWS

Crossposted from Opinions expressed are those of Cathy O’Neil.

I’m looking forward to protesting in front of JP Morgan with my #OWS Alt Banking group this Wednesday at noon. The exact location is 270 Park Avenue, near 48th Street.

It’s part of a “Week of Action” being put together by a broad coalition of activist and labor groups here in New York. The overall theme of the week is to try to communicate to New Yorkers, in this time of transition from Bloomberg to de Blasio, that we can effect positive change in our city. The theme of the day on Wednesday, at least for us, is to “be in the know,” which makes it a bit more positive than other protests we’ve been part of.

I think this makes sense. There’s so much widespread distrust and hatred of the big banks at this point that I feel like Occupy’s role has gone from provoking people to be outraged to provoking people to be hopeful. Hopeful about the fact that things could be a whole lot better than this, if we work together.

Anyhoo, we spent yesterday planning the action, and made some signs. Here’s one based on an idea we borrowed from Alexis Goldstein from her recent twitter war with JPMorgan:


and here’s a sign we’ll hold up while playing a “rigged game” with props:


I also made a sign that referenced the London Whale and the risk model, but someone said we might need to give people a copy of our recent book, Occupy Finance, just to understand that sign. Sigh.

The facebook page is here, please share it with people who may be able to join us Wednesday!

When Is $13 Billion not $13 Billion

There is a lot of news about the JPMorgan settlement for $13 billion and how tough the government is (finally) being.  Well, I’m not sure how much the settlement really is but I know it is much less because:

  • Some of it is not new. They’d already agreed to $4 billion of it
  • Most of it is restitution. That is, compensating people for harm they did. They owed that money and they are not paying all they should. If I took $100 from you and then the police made me give $50 back, would you think they were doing their job?
  • They are deducting most of it from their taxes. So, the government is essentially giving them a discount on it and treating it as a normal business practice.

There is one piece of potentially good news. JPMorgan asked the government to absolve them from criminal charges. The government refused. JPM actually agreed to help the government make a case against some past employees. This could conceivably be good if the government actually follows through and if they prosecute senior executives. I’m not holding my breath.

P.S. The Too-Big-to-Fail subsidy is worth tens of billions of dollars every year to the megabanks. (I think the $83 billion Bloomberg estimate is too high but it’s the right order of magnitude).  JPM — the biggest of the megabanks — surely gets a decent chunk of that. EVERY YEAR. That puts the $13 billion fine (that really is costing them much less) in proper perspective.

P.P.S. According to the New York Times, the JPM board thinks that Jamie Dimon is a hero for arriving at this settlement. You can understand why.

“The bank’s board remains steadfastly behind Mr. Dimon, who holds the dual roles of chairman and chief executive. That support traces to a widespread belief among board members that the deals represent a victory for the bank as it tries to move past its woes.”




Please help us print more Occupy Finance

Occupy Finance, the book we published for the 2nd anniversary of the OWS protests has been very well received. So well that we are running out of the 1500 copies we printed.

We’d love to print more but we need your help. We have a campaign running on Indiegogo to raise the funds.

If you are inclined and able to help financially, please do so.

Also, please help us spread the word.

Here is a short url you can tweet.

Occupy Finance, The Book Club

We have published a book you can download here. Copies of the first printing have become scarce, more on that below.

We have been holding a book club before our regular meeting (2-3 PM on Sundays). We’ve had very lively discussions and attendance has been so good we’ve had to move to a larger room. You can see the schedule on our web site here.

We are trying to raise money for a second printing of the book. If you would like to help, you can donate on our web site (full disclosure, we are not a 501(c)anything so the donation s not tax-deductible and will go to an individual (who promises to use it to cover the cost of printing).

If you’d like to contact a person before donating, join our e-mail list or any other reason, our address is We’d love to hear from you!

Occupy Finance, The Book

The Alternative Banking Group has been hard at work on a book. It is finally done. We gave away a few hundred copies on S17.

It’s getting rave reviews

  1. FT Alphaville with Lisa Pollack
  2. NPR with Margot Adler
  3. Bloomberg with Matt Levine
  4. New York Times with William Alden
  5. Daily Kos with medicalquack

We also got a nice mention on

You can read it or download it here.

Better yet, e-mail to request a copy or to be added to our mailing list.

Even better: come to one of our meetings and receive a copy in person.




Occupy Finance, the book: announcement and fundraising

Crossposted on

Members of the Alt Banking Occupy group have been hard at work recently writing a book which we call Occupy Finance. Our blog for the book is here. It’s a work in progress but we’re planning to give away 1,000 copies of the book on September 17th, the 2nd anniversary of the Occupation of Zuccotti Park.

We’re modeling it after another book which was put out last year by Strike Debt called the Debt Resistor’s Operations Manual, which I blogged about it here when it came out.

Crappy Kickstarter

I want to tell you more about our book, which we’re writing by committee, but I did want to mention that in order to get the first 1,000 copies printed by September 17th, we’ll need altogether $2,500, and so far we’ve collected $2,150 from the various contributors, editors, and their friends. So we need to collect $350 at this point. If we get more then we’ll print more.

If you’d like to help us towards the last $350, we’d appreciate it – and I’ll even send you a copy of the book afterwards. But please don’t send anything you don’t want to give away, I can’t promise you some kind of formal proof of your contribution for tax purposes. This is Occupy after all, we suck at money. Consider this a crappy version of Kickstarter.

Anyway if you want to help out, send me a personal email to arrange it: cathy.oneil at gmail. I’ll basically just tell you to send me a personal check, since I’m the one fronting the money.

Audience and Mission

The mission of the book, like the mission of the Alt Banking group, is to explain the financial system and its dysfunction in plain English and to offer suggestions for how to think about it and what we can do to improve it.

The audience for this book is the 99% who are Occupy-friendly or at least Occupy-inquisitive. Specifically, we want people who know there’s something wrong, but don’t have the background to articulate what it is, to have a reference to help them define their issues. We want to give them ammunition at the water cooler.

What’s in the book?

After a stirring introduction, the book is divided into three basic parts: The Real Life Impact of Financialization, How We Got Here, and Things to do. I’ve got links below.

Keep in mind things are still in flux and will be changed, sometimes radically, before the final printing. In particular we’re actually using DropBox for most of our edits so the links below aren’t final versions (but will be eventually). Even so, the content below will give you a good idea of what we have in mind, and if you have comments or suggestions, please do tell us, thanks!

Our table of contents is as follows, and the available chapters have associated links:

Introduction: Fighting Our Way Out of the Financial Maze

The Real Life Impact of Financialization

  1. Heads They Win, Tails We Lose: Real Life Impact of Financialization on the 99%
  2. The bailout: it didn’t work, it’s still going on, and it’s making things worse

How We Got Here

  1. What Banks Do
  2. Impact of Deregulation
  3. The top ten financial outrages
  4. The muni bond industry and the 99%

Things to Do

  1. Reject common myths
  2. Smart Regulation
  3. New Money
  4. Resources
  5. Occupy!

Come to Alt-Banking meetings this Sunday

Alternative Banking has good discussions every week. But this week should be especially lively. From 2-3 we will have a “pre-meeting” where representatives of the Occupy Money Cooperative will discuss their plans and we can have an open discussion.

From 3-5 we will have our usual meeting with an agenda collectively decided. But, we expect someone who helped blow the whistle on HSBC money-laundering to terrorists will attend.

Don’t miss it.