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Occupy Wall Street could prop up Obama

Chances of Obama getting a second term seem impossible, say the pundits. The state of the US economy is going from bad to worse. The Occupy Wall Street campaign is made up of those who had chanted “Yes, We Can!”... This movement could give the current American president a big boost 

Commentators in the United States are predicting President Obama can’t win a second term. His poll numbers are at an all-time low. Only 43% approve of his performance as president while 47% disapprove. Unemployment in the US has remained stubbornly high at 9.1%, the worst since 1983. Despite these dreadful numbers it must be pointed out that in September 1983, the unemployment rate was also at 9.2%. Then Ronald Regan was president and only 46% approved of his performance. Regan did not have any problem getting re-elected 13 months later. But that may not what will save Obama. What will save him is a coalition presently named Occupy Wall Street.
 
Occupy Wall Street is a spontaneous grass-roots movements. It seems like it is filled with outcasts, malcontents and the generally weird things that New York throws up from time to time. Some pundits have dismissed it, but that is unwise. In 2009 after the triumphal election of Obama in 2008, a small group of what appeared to be crazy old people often dressed in 18th century costumes complete with tri-corn hat started to demonstrate in front of state capitals and disrupted government hearings. They called themselves the Tea Party movement after a legendary and destructive riot that occurred in Boston in 1773. Their message seemed unclear, occasionally racist and often simply silly. Yet in just over a year it coalesced into a major force that was able to set the agenda for the Republican Party and eventually take over the US Congress.
 
What united the Tea Party though was not a love of history. It was fear. Obama by just his appearance represented a monumental change to America. Older white people came from a world where both their position in American society and America’s position in the world seemed secure. Now all that seemed to have changed. The world economy had collapsed. The US was broke and owed piles of money to China. Government programmes meant to benefit them seemed in jeopardy and their long-term jobs were disappearing.
 
It is that same potential for fear that could unify the people Occupying Wall Street. There is a difference. The Tea Party is more of a movement of the ‘want to keep’. Occupy Wall Street could be more of a movement of the don’t haves.
 
The largest segment of the want to haves is the young and often well educated. The reason they are well educated is that they were able to go to university. The way they were able to pay for it was with government-subsidised student loans. The amount of these loans is huge, potentially over a trillion dollars. The probability of students getting good jobs to pay off these loans has been decimated. The crushing burden of these loans makes it almost impossible for younger workers to afford anything like a car or a house that their parents enjoyed. They cannot even get rid of the loans in bankruptcy and there is no statute of limitations.
 
Other have-nots include minorities. Minorities have been especially hard hit by the recession. The average national unemployment rate for whites is 8%, but for Hispanics it is up to 11% and for Blacks it is 16% (double the white number). These minorities are not just a small fraction of the electorate. Instead they presently make up a third of the population.
 
Another segment are the ‘used-to-haves’. Most of these are the people who have lost homes in foreclosure, over three million since the recession began, added to that are the 4 million whose homes are delinquent in their payments over 90 days. Finally almost 30% of homes have mortgages that are larger than what the home is worth.
 
Then there are the ‘might-not-haves’. These include millions of workers whose promised pensions may not exist. States all over the country are having financial problems. Only one state, Delaware, has over 90% of its liabilities funded. Over 60% of the states have liabilities that exceed 20%. In 16% it is over 40%. The total pension shortfall could be over $2 trillion and that is does not include private companies.
 
Against this back ground the Republicans and Tea Party are unsympathetic. According to former pizza executive Herman Cain, “If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” Candidate Mitt Romney blasted the anti-Wall Street rallies as “dangerous” and “class warfare.” While candidate Newt Gingrich called the protests a “natural outcome of a bad education system teaching them really dumb ideas.” Meanwhile Republicans in Congress stoutly refuse to raise taxes on people making over a million dollars a year.
 
What Obama needs to win is a way to unite the disparate islands of anger against this insensitivity. The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations may do just that.  
(The writer is president of Emerging Market Strategies and can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected]).

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COMMENTS

baby

5 years ago

Congress must seriously think of "occupy jantar mantar" by their cronies to prop up Amulbaba !

Wipro Q2 net up 1.24% at Rs1,300.90 crore

IT services, which contributed 75% to the company’s revenues in Q2, FY11-12, stood at $1,472 million, a sequential increase of 4.6% and a year-on-year rise of 15.7%. Wipro expects revenues from the IT services business to be in the range of $1,500 million to $1,530 million for the quarter ending 31 December 2011

Mumbai: Software exporter Wipro today reported a growth of 1.24% in consolidated net profit to Rs1,300.9 crore for the quarter ended 30 September 2011 compared to Rs1,284.90 crore for the second quarter, as per international accounting standards, reports PTI.

Net income from sales during the reporting quarter stood at Rs9,094.50 crore against Rs7,730.50 crore in Q2, FY10-11, translating into a 17.64% increase.

“Macroeconomic sentiments continue to remain uncertain.

We have seen growth momentum build up in our IT business, with healthy volume growth. Our focused investment strategy will get the business to a higher growth trajectory,” Wipro chairman Azim Premji said in a statement.

IT services, which contributed 75% to the company’s revenues in Q2, FY11-12, stood at $1,472 million, a sequential increase of 4.6% and a year-on-year rise of 15.7%.

The company said it expects its revenues from the IT services business to be in the range of $1,500 million to $1,530 million for the third quarter ending 31 December 2011.

The IT services division hired 5,240 new people in the second quarter, taking its total headcount to 1,31,730 employees as of 30 September 2011. It added 44 new customers during the reporting quarter.

“We are continuing to see incremental progress in our client mining strategy, with five customers contributing more than $100 million of revenues and our top customer hitting a revenue run rate upward of $200 million,” Wipro executive director and chief financial officer Suresh Senapaty said.

Operating margins were impacted during the quarter by salary increases, he added.

On a standalone basis, the company reported a net profit of Rs1,050.60 crore for the quarter, a decline of 10.36% from Rs1,172.1 crore in the same period last year.

Sales of IT products accounted for 11% of total company revenue in Q2, FY11-12, at Rs1,000 crore, a decline of 6% year-on-year.

Wipro’s consumer care and lighting business recorded revenues of Rs800 crore in Q2, FY11-12, an increase of 20% y-o-y, accounting for 9% of Wipro’s total revenues during the quarter.

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Mafatlal Group patriarch Arvind Mafatlal passes away

Under Arvind Mafatlal’s leadership, the group transformed into a conglomerate with interests in rubber chemicals, specialty chemicals and petro chemicals, besides the flagship textiles

Mumbai: Mafatlal Group patriarch and social reformer Arvind N Mafatlal passed away on Sunday at Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh after prolonged illness. He was 88, reports PTI.

He is survived by son Hrishikesh Mafatlal, who is the chairman of the Arvind Mafatlal Group, and daughter Maithili Desai.

A month ago, the ailing industrialist was flown in from Mumbai to Chitrakoot, as he wanted to spend his last days there.

The legendary industrialist played a prominent role in the post-Independence growth story of the country.

The Group, set up by his grandfather in 1905 in Ahmedabad as a textile mill, was primarily into textile business till Arvind took over in 1954.

Under his leadership, the group transformed into a conglomerate with interests in rubber chemicals, specialty chemicals and petro chemicals, besides the flagship textiles.

The rubber chemicals business NOCIL, set up in collaboration with Royal Dutch Shell and Hoechst Mafatlal at Thane is one of the largest rubber chemicals companies in the country and a leading exporter.

Another company Navin Flourine is the largest manufacturer of flouro chemicals in the country. In textiles, Mafatlal Denim is a leader.

To achieve his social vision of improved quality of life for the underprivileged, Mr Mafatlal worked closely with renowned Gandhian Manibhai Desai to set up the Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF).

BAIF used modern technology, and focused on research and development to improve the earning potential of tribal and landless population. BAIF also initiated animal health schemes for cattle development.

BAIF initiatives are benefiting over 4.4 million families spread over 16 states today.

Mr Mafatlal was also a supporter of women's empowerment.

He launched the Shri Sadguru Seva Sangh Trust in 1968 to carry out activities like health services in tribal and rural areas and relief and rehabilitation at the time of major natural calamities.

The Sadguru Seva Sangh has also set up many eye care hospitals and schools in the interiors of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and carried out over 1.1 million eye surgeries.

Mr Mafatlal received several awards including the Durga Prasad Khaitan Memorial Gold Medal (1966), Sir Jehangir Ghandy Gold Medal for Industrial Peace from Xavier Labour Relations Institute of Jamshedpur (1978), and the Lions’ Humanitarian Award by the International Association of Lions Clubs of the US (1993).

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COMMENTS

dinesh hassija

5 years ago

there can never be a substitute for makhan jeen, i suppose manufactured by Mafat Lal group

NDJain

5 years ago

In his death, India has lost a true visionary.

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