'Flood Wall Street,' Massive Sit-In, Planned for September 22

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A flyer being circulated for the event.
Happy third birthday, Occupy Wall Street. This time last year, some former Occupiers embarked on a small-scale, nostalgic march through the Financial District -- one that, for a change, ended in zero arrests. But this year, many of their minds are on next week, when a massive civil-disobedience action is planned for the steps of the New York Stock Exchange. "Flood Wall Street" is being billed as a sit-in and blockade to "shut down the institutions that are profiting from the climate crisis." Blue-clad protesters are expected to meet in Battery Park and then descend on the Financial District sometime on September 22; people affiliated with the event have told us to expect mass arrests.

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Wall Street Trader Entices Bansky with $100,000 to Help With Sandy Recovery, Gives Money to Charity Anyway

A Wall Street trader has followed through on his promise to give to the Sandy rebuilding effort even if Banksy didn't lend his star power. Nelson Saiers, the hedge fund manager behind HeyBanksy.com, a scheme to get Banksy to bring publicity to ongoing Sandy recovery efforts, has decided to donate his money whether or not the graffiti artist delivers by the end of his residency this week.

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Bill Thompson's Job After Last Election Poses Trouble for 2013 Mayoral Run

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Was Thompson's time in the private sector a conflict of interests?
Like most politicians, Bill Thompson is no stranger to the phrase "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." In 2009, then-Voice columnist Tom Robbins explored the connection between a $150 billion pension fund and Thompson's mayoral campaign against Bloomberg. As comptroller, Thompson used his position to help powerful friends in need, gaining in return, as his finances showed at the time, massive donations to snag the City Hall spot. Of course, Thompson lost to Bloomberg by 4 percentage points that November but, now, four years later, it seems as if his new mayoral campaign faces yet another potential conflict of interest.

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NYAG Eric Schneiderman Plans To Sue BOA & Wells Fargo For Mortgage Fraud

In January of 2011, President Obama selected New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in his State of the Union address to lead a banking crime busters force. The creation of the team came on behalf of the Democrat's disenfranchised liberal base, a sect frustrated with the lack of criminal consequences for the recession's architects. But, given that Wall Street, the epicenter of the 2008 financial storm, lies in Schneiderman's backyard justified the choice for him as its leader.

Since then, he's been on a serious streak with his legal weaponry; he's brought lawsuits against J.P. Morgan-Chase, he's gone after Credit Suisse for conning investors before the crisis and he's served subpoenas to the private equity firms of Romney lore. And yesterday, he continued that roll with news of Manhattan courts' next target: a lawsuit issued at Bank of America and Wells Fargo for circumventing a National Mortgage Settlement from last year.

It's the first time an Attorney General has brought a lawsuit under the settlement and it looks like it could be the largest action taken thus far by the Wall Street inspector.

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Twitter Inventor Jack Dorsey Helps Launch Reshma Saujani Campaign for NYC Public Advocate

Reshma Saudani and Jack Dorsey at her Manhattan campaign launch.
Reshma Saujani, 37, and a quintet of journalists are tucked inside the green room at swanky Village cabaret, (Le) Poisson Rouge. Every so often a staffer or groomed coif of the NYC tech glitterati will poke around the door, but Ms. Saujani has staked out five minutes--not easy after stepping offstage with Jack Dorsey, the inventor of Twitter.

"I'm a man of few characters, so I'm going to keep this very, very brief," Dorsey told the packed crowd earlier at Saujani's Manhattan campaign launch for public advocate Monday night. "We need more strong women leaders in this country. We need more revolutionaries. That is Reshma."

The daughter of Indian refugees who fled the regime of Idi Amin in Uganda, Saujani earned advanced degrees at Harvard and Yale, then moved to New York City with $200,000 in student loan debt. She interned at the White House during the Clinton administration, went on to work for Hillary's campaign, litigated for Wall Street, paid off those loans, and sent money home. She ran for Congress in 2009 (the first South Asian woman to do so) in New York's 14th district, and was then appointed to the position of Deputy Public Advocate. There, she created the DREAM fellowship to give undocumented immigrant students a shot at higher education.

She's not afraid of the F-word, either.

"Would you consider yourself a feminist?"

"Absolutely," Saujani tells the Voice backstage, with zero hesitation.

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Wall Street Bonuses Are Up 8%! Happy Hump Day!

No better time than a Wednesday to hear a headline we're unfortunately (yet willingly) accustomed to.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced yesterday that the collective pool of Wall Street bonus rewards is now up to $20 billion, showing a 8 percent rise in extra paychecks to the denizens of Downtown. And, to affirm this feeling of modern anxiety to lower-class lonely hearts, statistics point to a 10 percent drop (translation: 20,000 jobs) in the overall Wall Street job market due to companies' recent inclination to downsize.

In other words, there's much more money going around... just for less people.

Keep in mind that the average salary for a Wall Street worker is $362,900 - an amount that is somehow larger than what it was before 2008's financial implosion and, of course, five times larger than what most Joe Schmoes make. These numbers are from 2011, too; if the bonuses are any indication, the still-unavailable numbers from 2012 probably say what we're all helplessly thinking: maybe business school was the way to go.

Stay strong out there on this drenched Hump Day.


Obama Picks NYC Prosecutor To Head The SEC

If you're gonna clamp down on Wall Street, it's probably best that you choose someone who's been doing it for years.

In 1993, Mary Jo White became the first woman to ever become a Manhattan attorney at the federal level. During her nine-year tenure in the Southern New York district, she went after New Wall Street, drug traffickers (she led the prosecution of John Gotti) and, most notably, those behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Even though, at this time, the federal government was busy deregulating the financial services industry, White had a key role in enforcing the law on complex securities - many of which would eventually come full circle in the 2008 crisis.

So, it makes sense why, yesterday, President Obama chose her to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission; a group whose job (or, at least, what they're supposed to do) is making sure Wall Street plays by the rules. She'll be taking the reigns over from interim head Elise Walter. And what's most interesting about this selection is that it's the first time a prosecutor will be in charge of the agency.

But that might have its downsides...

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NYAG Eric Schneiderman's New Wall Street Fraud Target: Credit Suisse

At the beginning of October, we reported on the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities' Group's first target, J.P. Morgan Chase. Started by President Obama and led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the task force seeks to reprimand the culprits behind 2008's financial implosion. Aside from the enormous SEC settlement with Goldman Sachs, it's the most comprehensive action taken towards getting to the bottom of Wall Street's actions leading up to what we now know as The Great Bubble. 

J.P. Morgan Chase was in trouble for its acquisition of Bear Stearns, the now-defunct bank that reportedly "kept investors in the dark" about just what was going on when, for lack of a better phrase, shit hit the fan. Also, to add to that mess, the accusation from Schneiderman's office deemed the mortgage-backed securities Bear Stearns was dealing out like one big poker deck were, in all natures of the word, "risky."

And, as of yesterday, the Wall Street cops have a new target: good ol' Credit Suisse.

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Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli: Wall Street Is Doing Kinda/Sorta Better Than You

Whether you're a part of the 47 Percent, the 99 Percent, the 1 Percent or some other slogan-driven demographic, this news should not surprise you: Wall Street is making a ton of money. Actually, it had its 5th best start of all time, doubling its profits from last year. In 2012 alone, the securities industry has a projected net profit of about $15 billion by the end of this year and it's already made $10.5 billion or so; in 2011, this number was around $7 billion or so, partly due to the economic turbulence in continental Europe.

These were the statistics State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shared with the world yesterday in a statement that left the rest of us non-securities-industry folk the usual high and dry. However, these profits are a rough decline from what we saw immediately after the financial meltdown of 2008 (Remember the whole 'golden parachutes' phenomenon of 2009? Yeah, Wall Street was pushing a profit of about $60 billion then. Bailouts can really come in the clutch.)

But, now that the billions, if not trillions, in bailout money has more or less evaporated into thin air somewhere in Downtown Manhattan, Wall Street is on its own again. And this sharp jump in profits in less than 365 days proves the point that, with or without the help of the taxpayer, the security industry can still make a nice buck on its own.
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NYAG Eric Schniederman Announces First Fraud Task Force Target: J.P. Morgan Chase

Last January, President Obama announced in his State of the Union Address that a joint effort between state and federal authorities would aim to bring Wall Street's ass to court for civil fraud violations. Although the frustrated liberal base wanted jail time for the 2008 financial crisis, this legal move sought to collect fines from some of downtown Manhattan's top dogs. And to lead this bank justice team? None other than Governor Andrew Cuomo's successor, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Since the speech in January, talk of the populist program essentially disappeared until the AG mentioned at the beginning of September that he would be shooting subpoenas at private equity firms, including Mitt Romney's Bain Capital. We reported on this at the time, making the point that other targets were some of the Presidential candidate's largest donors; many of whom we profiled in our 'Mitt Loves N.Y.' series.

However, yesterday, the first major lawsuit from what has come to be known as the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Group arrived from Schneiderman's desk: an accusation at financial titan J.P. Morgan Chase for its acquisition of Bear Stearns, the bank that sank in the Implosion of 2008 and later bought by J.P. Morgan for $2 a share - a deal moderated and cheered by the federal government at the time. According to the lawsuit, Bear Stearns had "kept investors in the dark" about seemingly everything that was going on pre-financial-meltdown. 

Aside from the $550 million SEC settlement with Goldman Sachs, it is, arguably, the largest action taken by a governmental agency towards what happened Downtown during those fateful months that brought the global economy to its knees.

Now, that should get a few people's attention.
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