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Bank of England’s Andrew Haldane Deems Occupy a Success

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Around the anniversary of the official birth of Occupy Wall Street, a host of bank affiliated financial reporters used the occasion to designate the movement a failure in surprisingly strident terms. Why the need to kick a dead horse? By any standards, the outcry was peculiar and misguided. First, even if the movement accomplishes nothing else, it had already scored a considerable victory in galvanizing public opinion around the outside role of banks in politics and the economy, and on the related issue of income inequality. The movement even on its comparatively small ongoing scale was perceived to be enough of a threat to elicit a coordinated 17 city paramilitary crackdown. The vehemence of the response was a powerful testament to its impact.

Second, a year is an inadequate timeframe in which to assess the impact of social change movements. Remember, when Chinese premier Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought about the impact of French Revolution and famously responded, “It is too early to say,” he was referring to the 1968 uprisings, which had taken place a full five years earlier. As Columbia professor Suresh Naidu has pointed out, if you look at the history of civil rights protests in the US, during the first five years, the activity was at a very low level. After that period, the level of protests rose sharply and grew from that higher level. It would similarly be easy to have dismissed the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in its early years, and it took over thirty years to achieve its aims. Even the revolutions of 1848, which were, like the Arab Spring, an uncoordinated set of national revolts that appeared to produce little, actually led to lasting changes in some countries.

Even last September, there were more judicious rethinkings of the impact of Occupy. One came from Reihan Salam, a conservative Reuters writer:

One year on, the encampments that had sprung up in Lower Manhattan and in cities, college campuses and foreclosed homes across the country have for the most part been abandoned. And so at least some observers are inclined to think, or to hope, that the Occupy movement has been of little consequence. That would be a mistake. Occupy’s enduring significance lies not in the fact that some small number of direct actions continue under its banner, or that activists have made plans to commemorate “S17” in a series of new protests. Rather, Occupy succeeded in expanding the boundaries of our political conversation, creating new possibilities for the American left.

And despite the efforts to diss it, OWS found an audience in the corridors of power. FT Alphaville chaired a discussion of socially useful banking, and the keynote speaker was Andrew Haldane, the executive director of financial stability for the Bank of England. Haldane is highly respected both among economists, who regard his work as creative and rigorous, and international banking regulators. He has the potential of being the sort of economist who leaves a lasting imprint on the profession. So his positive remarks about Occupy are a particularly powerful endorsement. From the opening of Haldane’s speech (emphasis his):

The theme for tonight is “Socially Useful Banking”. And what better place to discuss it than tonight’s venue – the main meeting hall of The Friend’s House, traditionally the venue for the annual meeting of the Quakers.

The Quaker movement famously gave us two of the UK’s largest banks, Lloyds and Barclays. Between them, these banks have almost 600 years of history. For most of that period, no-one questioned their social usefulness. They extended loans to businesses and helped families buy homes. Nationally and regionally, they were part of the social fabric. Today, that fabric is torn.

As the CEOs of these two institutions have both recently said, these banks need to rediscover their social usefulness. But this is not only a question for the banks. It is a key issue for wider society too, who have after all felt the financial consequences of banks’ failings and failures. What do we want our banking system to do? And how do we create that system?
This is where Occupy enter the picture. It is now over a year since the Occupy movement commenced its journey and entered the collective conscience of the public and policymakers. One year on, what has it achieved?

Some have suggested rather little, that Occupy’s voice has been loud but vague, long on problems, short on solutions. Others have argued that the fault-lines in the global financial system, which chasmed during the crisis, are essentially unaltered, that reform has failed.

I wish to argue tonight that both are wrong – that Occupy’s voice has been both loud and persuasive and that policymakers have listened and are acting in ways which will close those fault-lines. In fact, I want to argue that we are in the early stages of a reformation of finance, a reformation which Occupy has helped stir.

Let me start with the contribution of the Occupy movement itself. Occupy has been successful in its efforts to popularise the problems of the global financial system for one very simple reason: they are right.

By this I do not just mean right in a moral sense. For sure, Occupy have touched a moral nerve in pointing to growing inequities in the allocation of wealth and incomes globally. The 99% certainly agrees. But so, more interestingly, do a high and rising share of the 1%.

Yet it is the analytical, every bit as much as the moral, ground that Occupy has taken. For the hard-headed facts suggest that, at the heart of the global financial crisis, were and are problems of deep and rising inequality.

Haldane’s comment on analytical ground probably refers to (among other things) the Occupy the SEC Volcker Rule comment letter and StrikeDebt’s Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual. When Sheila Bair met with the Alternative Banking Group, she said that the Volcker Rule comment letter galvanized the SEC, that too often the staff wants to take a position opposed to the generally sloppily made lobbyist comments, and gets little sympathy from the top brass if there are no comments from public groups on the other side. OWS has established a brand that regulators will listen to, and I hope it continues it its efforts to make use of its bully pulpit.

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60 comments

  1. amateur socialist

    Here’s a quote I like to provide people who try to tell me “occupy hasn’t accomplished anything” :

    “Now you have to ask a question – is that really, is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money? Or is that in fact somehow a little bit of a flawed system? And so I do draw distinction between looting a company, leaving behind broken families and broken neighborhoods and then leaving a factory that should be there.” -Newt Gingrich, Manchester NH, Jan 9, 2012

    I think it’s arguable that without Occupy that kind of analysis would have never entered a GOP primary.

    1. openyourmind

      Two things come to mind, one, the Rothschild’s must have fear to send out their whipping post to make such a public announcement or two, their getting ready to do something wicked and evil….its just a ploy wonder what their really going to do? introduce a new world order currency?

      what what could it be hmmm?

      The rich never come forward and acknowledge their genocide, murder, slauhter, rape and pillaging and the exploitation of labor…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The embarrassing thing is I know that, you can look in my archives and I must have at least 20 posts referring to his speeches with his name right.

      I have really bad name dyslexia. One funny incident was when I was doing a client project which had interviews in 9 different countries, the one in South America being in Venezuela. I played Evita while I was drafting the report. As a result, I got a puzzled client query (on the sections dealing with Venezuela) “What is this about Argentina?”

      1. chris m

        yves, it’s only thanks to you that for many of us, we recognized haldane’s name immediately anyway.

        1. harry

          You do all realise that his family name is very famous but not in economics.

          The Haldanes made quite a big name for themselves in biology. I suspect thats why Mr. Haldane uses so many biological analogies.

  2. Clive

    What has definitely changed in response to Occupy is the dialogue, the words and the fact that at least the argument has moved onto an agenda which covers (amongst other things):

    + What are the TBTFs actually *for* ?
    + What is the link between the TBTFs and politics ?
    + Is that link desirable ?
    + If that link is not desirable then how can it be severed ?
    + If the TBTFs are in fact really just utilities masquerading as any normal business such as one selling shoes and handbags, how can the be regulated ? (see the earlier feature on Sound Regulation and Oversight)

    The snag is, it’s not progressed beyond the level of “talk”. As Yves says, this might be the appropriate stage in Occupy’s evolution and timeline.

    The real test will come in whether we can look back in, say, 5 years time and see the dismembering of the TBTFs or the imposition of a regulatory framework which puts an limit to the social and economic damage they are capable of rendering.

    So, definitely “Too soon to tell…”. Yet.

    For what it’s worth, which isn’t much as it’s only an anecdotal, the TBTF I’m familiar with is in a whole other place than it was even two years ago with regards to its ethos. Gouging out customers just because you can — or they’re desperate — is officially frowned upon. Long Term is the new management fashion accessory. Being part of “the community” is what we should be seen to be doing. Whether this conversion on the road to Damascus is genuine or not, I’m not so sure. But even if it’s tokenism, hiding the old style exploitative behaviour is harder, takes more time and effort and thus is more liable to be found out (and therefore career-threatening) than being decent. So I’m optimistic that Occupy will continue to be effective anyway.

    1. diptherio

      They may be trying to hide it a little more, but they are scamming as much as every, especially their poorer clients. Wells admits in court to routinely violating bankruptcy court stays as well as its own mortgage documents and notes and … nothing happens (well, a little slap on the wrist, but not enough to convince them to stop breaking the law)

      I don’t know where Occupy is going next, but I think we’re waiting for the next tactic to get thought up. Most of us (with Occupy) were aware from the get-go that nothing was going to happen quickly or easily, and that the PTB would obviously put up a huge fight. Most of us are in it for the long haul…Occupy isn’t dead, just dormant.

      1. Clive

        What stuck me diptherio about what you wrote was something that I’d never realised until the foreclosure fraud robosigning “settlement”, the “rocket-docket”‘ing in Florida and elsewhere, the light sentencing for Rajat Gupta etc. etc. etc. (regular NC readers can fill in more like this) got more publicity.

        Which is, I’d stupidly assumed that the US justice system was whiter than white. Here in England, there is a pretty well absolute segregation between the legislature and the judiciary. That’s not just for show, hundreds of years of history, tradition, culture (an overused word, but in this case it’s true) not to mention the high regard (for the most part) that judges are held in make it something which you can rely on both in principle and in practice.

        For the US, given the enormous lengths you’ve gone to in order to — literally — fight for the right to get justice executed fairly and the rule of law adhered to (the revolution, the civil war — hardly trivial parts of your history) I never even thought to doubt that justice in American wasn’t just a load of headfake. Even now, in popular culture (TV shows, written works e.g. crime/thriller writing) you guys almost seem to revel in your peerless respect for the courts, the police and the public prosecutors.

        Unfortunately, it does all seem to be a bit of a work of, well, fiction. The “wall” which separates the justice system from baser considerations of politics and power seems wafer thin. Just my guess, but the weak spots seem the useless AGs. Exhibit A: Eric Schneiderman Exhibit B: Pam Bondi Exhibit C: Kamala Harris (okay, the jury’s maybe out on the last one, correct me if I’m wrong there).

        1. shtove

          The venerable English tradition of separation of judiciary and executive?

          One of the great debates in the UK in the past 20 years has been over the incursion of the executive on judicial independence. The bureaucratisation (long word!) of the law is almost complete.

          The executive has won in the UK. In the US the judiciary is in relative good shape. But once they get rid of juries in civil cases, you know it’s over. That simple.

          1. Ms G

            I did get that impression as an avid watched of the BBC series “Judge Deed.” But then again, I had to assume that the theme of Executive intrusion into the Judiciary were either fictional or exaggerated for the entertainment purpose.

        2. Nell

          You state that the judiciary in the UK is in fine shape yet here in the UK there have been no prosecutions for financial fraud, such as the libor scandal. In contrast, there are law suits against Barclays et al are being put together in the US. I think a little pot calling kettle black is going on here. The UK has perfected a system that protects the misdeeds of the establishment whilst going full pelt after the little people. It is so perfect that ordinary people are believe sincerely that our judicial system is independent and uncorruptable.

      2. aletheia33

        2 recent observations re: occupy–what i’ve seen recently from occupiers in the tweetosphere:

        1. things like “we need to recognize that we didn’t just invent having a movement. others have gone before us. we are part of a long history of activism and need to continue on with that understanding–which also means not expecting instant results, and signing on for the long haul”

        2. “here’s where to go to volunteer to help people get through the aftermath of sandy.”

        my comment:
        these (many of them young) people are genuinely DEVOTED to the public good, from the micro to the macro. they walk their talk. they thrive on helping. they’re not embarrassed to seem naive. they’re not particularly idealistic. they have great humor, and they are dead serious. they go where the work is NOW. may they thrive and multiply!

    2. Ray Duray

      Re: “Gouging out customers just because you can — or they’re desperate — is officially frowned upon.”

      I’ve read this sentence over and and over. I’ve gotten past ROTFLMAO. I’ve gone past “oh, really”. I’m now in “who the hell is this Clive, and what’s his game, anyway?” mode.

      Are you a fiction writer who has lost your way? Or are you a pal of THIS GUY?

      http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/10/spreader-false-storm-rumors-gets-outed-shamed-internet/58511/

      Clive, Clive, Clive.

      Don’t you lie to us. Hear? This is not the time or place for sanctimonious 1%er bullshit.

      1. Clive

        Sometimes when you get comments like yours Ray, you kind-a stop wondering why the 1% think the 99% are so easily duped. If you’d actually read what I’d written, you might have realised that I totally get what Occupy is trying to do and know first hand why it’s so important they succeed.

        With a distinct sense of “you’re wasting your time here Clive”, I’ll try to explain.

        1) I’m not a member of the 1%. I was until the entry requirements for that segment of the population began to go way, way higher than I could ever get access to.
        2) Part of the reason for 1) above is that I couldn’t morally, ethically or in good conscience do the things that you have to do to fulfil the aforementioned entry requirements.
        3) Even if I was prepared to, it’s become a zero sum gain; there’s no point in my humble opinion grabbing from others to put yourself in a better position. If everyone else sinks, you sink too even if you’re on the top of the heap.

        That said, there are times, and reading you post is one of them, where part of me feels the 1% is right. You want to be as far away as possible from the 99% because a lot of them are kooks, crazies or just plain dumb. But I try to believe that just isn’t so.

        1. Ray Duray

          Clive,

          You leave me with but one choice. And I realize this is impolite. Could you please identify the TBTF institution you referred to when you said that they were abandoning a policy of gouging customers? I only ask because I’ve seen scant evidence of any TBTF doing any such thing. All that they are doing via their PR departments is putting lipstick on a pig which is essentially how your comment to which I replied came across.

          Can you name that institution and describe how their culure has improved in the last two years? How they’ve refunded money they had previously “earned” by selling bad products or indecipherable products to less informed corporate treasurers, pension fund managers, etc.?

          Show me the proof of your assertion and I’ll tend to believe otherwise, meh. You’re not making your case.

        2. aletheia33

          clive,
          please don’t give up on the 99%–especially now that you are one of us!
          we, just like the 1%, do include many who are crazy, kooks, and just plain dumb.
          also, we are very angry. that is one reason why the 1% may be wanting to stay further and further away from us.
          and, we have no trust left in any kind of goodwill of the 1%–and can you blame us, given what’s gone down?
          the erosion of trust has advanced far further in our society than many realize, and until one faces that, one is likely to be taken by surprise by the level of rage and betrayal that those with so little power left sometimes feel and express today.

          listen and learn.

          there is no way forward but for people to work to re-discover that quaint thing common interest and re-learn or learn anew how to work together with others not like oneself to serve it.
          for example, those who have education are under an obligation to learn how to respect those without it. educated people who do not respect the uneducated are far more numerous than vice versa.
          it’s time to get to work on opening one’s mind and heart and learning how to earn the trust of and collaborate with those whom one may have been deeply habituated to avoid.
          in other words, learning how to serve “the highest good for everyone concerned.”

          i don’t think we’ll all learn this overnight.
          but it is the only way forward.
          the effort, in and of itself, is worth it.
          i hope you will join.

          1. Patrick

            “there is no way forward but for people to work to re-discover that quaint thing common interest and re-learn or learn anew how to work together with others not like oneself to serve it.
            for example, those who have education are under an obligation to learn how to respect those without it. educated people who do not respect the uneducated are far more numerous than vice versa.
            it’s time to get to work on opening one’s mind and heart and learning how to earn the trust of and collaborate with those whom one may have been deeply habituated to avoid.
            in other words, learning how to serve “the highest good for everyone concerned.”
            i don’t think we’ll all learn this overnight.
            but it is the only way forward.
            the effort, in and of itself, is worth it.
            i hope you will join.”

            That would make a fine mission statement for the Occupy Movement; a message of inclusion. Occupy will be successful once it connects with a wider variety of people.

  3. craazyman

    where was this dude when the bubble was blowing?

    I don’t know where he was, personally, it’s just a question if somebody knows. Where was anybody who was anybody when the bubble was blowing? Either doing or ignoring mathematics? That could be the answer.

    I’m not anybody, so I don’t know. Mr. Haldane could be a Brooks Brothers model from what I saw. It makes it embarrasing to walk around dressed like a discount store mannikin, like I usually do.

    I’m glad he’s saying good things about Occupy. You can’t say bad things about Occupy unless you are mentally ill. If you channel his aura you can tell he’s fairly sane, as sane as anybody could expect somebody in his position to be.

    it’s a start. Thankfully.

  4. The Dork of Cork.

    The man is taking the piss.

    Thanks to the internet and occupy they probally know even more about how to extract a yield off the declining human & physical capital systems thus keeping them on top for just a little bit longer.

    In the end its pointless of course but they get to win and thats all that matters is it not ?

  5. Sterling

    The reason complain that nothing has been accomplished is that to date nothing seems to have changed in the way government and the financial industry conduct business. The financial industry got huffy at being accused of trashing the world, have retrenched, and they continue to kill every measure designed to restrict their power.

    Meetings and speeches are only useful if they result in political change. Who care’s about opening a dialogue about financial reform if nothing of consequence happens?

    1. Jonathan

      As much as anything, protest is a battle for public mindshare.

      Occupy probably would have done much, much better with Christian coloring, thus forcing the pastors in league with Mammon to either renounce capitalism and endorse the Jubilee, or tie themselves in even more nonsensical rhetorical knots to bless right-wing two-America solution and discredit themselves and their institution yet more.

      1. Buck Eschaton

        I really like your comment. Christianity is our friend. The right-wing misinterpretations of it are not of course. The existing mythology symbolism is there. The Jubilee is central to the entire New Testament and Old Testament.
        One example, I was looking at the Jericho story in Joshua the other day. The Israelites are surrounding Jericho, they march seven times blowing the trumpets of Jubilee until the walls fall down. Jubilee, Jubilee, Jubilee until the walls fall down.

  6. casino implosion

    I see I’m not the only one who noticed the peculiar stridency and strained triumphalism of the establishment press at the year anniversary of Occupy.

  7. Lester Barnwell

    What a stretching, reaching-beyond-grasp essay this is.

    Here’s what Occupy:__________ has accomplished — it has let its participants feel as though they are radical revolutionaries for simply camping out and wearing kaffiyehs.

    It’s perfect “progressive” image-derived politics of meliorism-by-suggestion.

    The fact that some politician or paid-pundit occasionally references Occupy:_________ doesn’t “prove” that it’s making a dent in the problems in America or elsewhere. It proves nothing of the sort. What it “proves” is there’s a reference. Nothing more. One might say that “progressives” who hack away at religious fundamentalists and “reactionaries” are “proving” that fundies and retrogrades are truly shaping dialogue and policy.

    The truth is that the blogosphere — like Eve’s Myth and other places — is self-reflecting narcissism that looks for reasons to “prove” it is “making a difference.”

    I find that hilarious. Eve’s Myth poses at radical exposure of our financial situation while implicitly suggesting our system needs only meliorist tinkering — because really, jobs and “economic growth” are critical in Mythland.

    Who’s doing the deep critical work here? Not Eve. Eve is like Elizabeth Warren, only Eve uses a male pen-name because Eve is afraid to speak as a woman. But in either case, it’s just more defense of the status quo ante, with mild tinkering around the edges to make progressives feel good about their consumerism, their materialism, and their complicity in the things that make them feel tacky and tawdry.

    Go on, change the world through blogging commentary!

    1. aletheia33

      your comment itself illustrates the power of what yves does; her work obviously has spurred you–in whatever way, or for whatever motives, one cannot guess–to try to undermine that power.
      you won’t succeed!
      and now i’m gong outside to get some fresh air.

    2. David James

      “The truth is that the blogosphere — like Eve’s Myth and other places — is self-reflecting narcissism that looks for reasons to “prove” it is “making a difference.””

      Hey, sounds just like Lester’s comment!

    3. reprobate

      What a train wreck. Are you off your meds?

      This post is about Occupy, in case you missed it, not the financial blogosphere. And no less than one of the two most senior officials at the Bank of England says OCCUPY made a difference. So who you are you to say he’s wrong?

      And your comment about Yves’ pen name screams “misogynist”. Only someone who hates women would talk about being “afraid” to use a female name. Since Yves appeaars on TV all the time (looking like woman, not wearing a gender bender outfit) she’s hardly hiding her sex.

      Keep writing, you look like an angry kook and defeat whatever point you are trying to make.

  8. ZygmuntFraud

    I’m quite amazed at a speech such as this one
    by Haldane of the Bank of England. It sounds so
    “radical” for someone working there. I think
    the speech was “as himself”, disclaiming it being
    the view of BofE.

    This line here is something new for me from
    BoE people:
    “Higher financial buffers are not about
    protecting the banks – just like other firms,
    they can and should fail.” (page 7).

    “implicit support” be gone, TBTF no longer
    operative. Strong stuff !

    This is saner, better thinking in my opinion
    than “save the banks at any cost”.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Go look to the link to the speech and look at it yourself. It’s on the BoE site, has the BoE logo, and has Haldane’s name and title on the cover page. Sure looks like an official speech to me.

      In general, Haldane, Mervyn King, and Adair Turner (head of the FSA) have been saying radical things about banks. All three pushed for what amounts to Glass Steagall in the UK; it was the Treasury that fought them and got it watered down. Their statements haven’t gotten the play in the US that they have in the UK (quelle surprise!)

      1. The Dork of Cork.

        @Yves
        Why have the Treasury of both the UK & US been taken over by bank operatives working for the NYFR etc while the FED & BOE appear almost detached from banking ?

        Was it the Keynesian atomic bombs dropped in 1914 and 1930s America.

        Do you not think goverment money needs to become base money again. ?

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            I mean, it couldn’t have anything to do with the Harvard Endowment and Ivy Endowment in general, esp. that of the Russell Foundation at YALE. Don’t they have to keep those high Rechurns on Investment coming?

      2. The Dork of Cork.

        @Yves
        Why have the Treasury of both the UK & US been taken over by bank operatives working for the NYFR etc while the FED & BOE appear almost detached from banking ?

        Was it the Keynesian atomic bombs dropped in 1914 and 1930s America.

        Do you not think goverment money needs to become base money again. ?

      3. ZygmuntFraud

        Yes, there’s the BoE logo and Haldane’s title.
        I erase what I said about it being non-official.

        The note on the speech says this:

        “The views are not necessarily those of the Bank of England or the Financial Policy Committee. I
        would like to thank Mark Cornelius, Paul Fisher and Varun Paul for their comments and contributions.”

  9. Susan the other

    Is Handane implying that banking will quit the business of investing and just be old fashioned banks serving the needs of people? Social Banking. I hope he is not misleading us just to sound ethical because we all know what happens when a blast of Arctic air meets a large mass of warm Gulf air… wipe out.

  10. acmerecords

    >>
    young people coming up asking why our government must borrow all of its money from tax payer saved and now supported private companies that are in fact insolvent – that is a difference, will bring about change
    young people coming up who saw that when they stood up- they stood for all – that changes lives, folks …
    young people thinking that inequality is both structural and policy based as opposed to being tricked by the rich&felonius to blame thenselves … now that’s how revolutions begin-

    ‘A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: �This is not just.’ It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: �This is not just.’ The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to
    teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.” MLKing – 1967, address at Manhattan’s Riverside Church.

    for streaming audio of this transformational speech see : http://www.acmeartscollective.com/redstateupdate/tribute-pages/mlk-streaming-audio-beyond-viet-nam.html

    1. ZygmuntFraud

      I really recommend having a look at this transcript:
      “William F. Pepper Talk on “An Act of State”, San Francisco, 2/4/03″ at:

      http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/WFP020403.html

      There was a civil trial in 1999 for wrongful death.
      Dr Pepper writes:
      “It took this jury 59 minutes to come back with an award and with a verdict on behalf of the family against Jowers and known and unknown conspirators in the government of the United States, the state of Tennessee, and the city of Memphis.”

      This story was very much suppressed.
      Dr. Pepper wrote the book: “An Act of State”
      about th 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  11. impermanence

    “Remember, when Chinese premier Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought about the impact of French Revolution and famously responded, “It is too early to say,” he was referring to the 1968 uprisings, which had taken place a full five years earlier.”

    I believe he was referring to the “other French Revolution” [1789]. His comment is used often to demonstrate the long-term thinking of the Chinese.

    And, he was right!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, there was a news report last year that Zhou’s remarks have long been misunderstood. HIs questioner was indeed asking about the French Revolution but Zhou thought he meant the 1968 uprisings and that’s what he was referring to.

      The trouble is that Zhou was not referring to the 1789 storming of the Bastille in a discussion with Richard Nixon during the late US president’s pioneering China visit. Zhou’s answer related to events only three years earlier – the 1968 students’ riots in Paris, according to Nixon’s interpreter at the time.

      http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/74916db6-938d-11e0-922e-00144feab49a.html#axzz2ArzNKx61

      I was wrong as to the date of the meeting with Zhou relative to the revolt. It was only 3 years.

  12. strikedebt

    Not sure if you meant it like this or not, but the sentence as written reads like the Debt Resistor’s Ops Manual (DROM) is a project of Occupy the SEC, which it is not.

    The DROM is a project of the Strike Debt group of Occupy Wall Street.

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