Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit: ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Grievances “Completely Understandable”
Another prominent “one percenter” has expressed sympathy for the “99 percenters” of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement.
According to the Huffington Post, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit said he thinks the protesters’ grievances are “completely understandable.” Speaking in an interview with Fortune magazine’s Andrew Serwer (click here to watch it), Pandit said: “Their sentiments are completely understandable. The economic recovery is not what we all want it to be, there are a number of people in our country who cant achieve what they are capable of achieving and that’s not a good place to be.”
He added: “I would also corroborate that trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S. and that it’s Wall Street’s job to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust. I’d talk about the fact that they should hold Citi and the financial institutions accountable for practicing responsible finance.”
Pandit said he would “be happy” to talk with the demonstrators at “any time,” stressing Citigroup’s efforts to grow small businesses and the bank’s rejection of debit card use fees. Bank of America and Wells Fargo will soon begin charging $5 and $3, respectively, to use such cards each month.
It is unlikely that many ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protesters would be swayed by Pandit’s arguments. Yesterday, demonstrators in New York marched on the homes of several gazillionaires, including JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and Tea Party bankroller David Koch.
In San Francisco, 11 protesters were arrested for trespassing at a Wells Fargo bank in that city’s Financial District. One Wells Fargo employee expressed secret solidarity with the demonstrators. “If I didn’t have to go to work, I would be out there [with the Occupation],” she told the San Jose Mercury News, lamenting that bank executives make millions while laying off many workers.
Vikram Pandit isn’t the only high-profile Wall Streeter to express sympathy for the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Billionaire financier George Soros did so at a United Nations conference last week. And Bill Gross, founder of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), has tweeted that the demonstrators are “fighting back after 30 years of being shot at.”
Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, addressed ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protesters in New York earlier this month. This is what he said:
You are right to be indignant. The fact is the system is not working right. It is not right that we have so many people without jobs when we have so many needs that we have to fulfill. It’s not right that we are throwing people out of their houses when we have so many homeless people.
Our financial markets have an important role to play. They’re supposed to allocate capital, manage risks. But they misallocated capital, and they created risk. We are bearing the cost of their misdeeds. There’s a system where we’ve socialized losses and privatized gains. That’s not capitalism; that’s not a market economy. That’s a distorted economy, and if we continue with that, we won’t succeed in growing, and we won’t succeed in creating a just society.
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