The Occupy Wall Street Index: 9 Companies the 99% Loves to Hate
Occupy Wall Street targets corporate evil, but does evil equal stock market gains?
I used to worry that I was living in the age of apathy, but the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon has changed all that.
People are taking to the streets all over the world, protesting a wide scope of issues that's grown far beyond the financial system.
During my own visits to demonstration sites in New York City, I've seen an endless range of topics come up for discussion. Need examples?
Well, there's Federal Reserve policy, the Troy Davis execution, abortion rights, organized labor, corporate-tax dodging, student loans, government largess, unlawful mortgage foreclosures, African-debt forgiveness, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Given the growth of the movement, we at Minyanville have decided to put together what we call The Occupy Wall Street Index to track the companies that the protestors -- the self-proclaimed 99% -- love to hate.
Some of these corporate titans, like Goldman Sachs (GS) and News Corp. (NWSA), have their names splattered on signs at every Occupy Wall Street rally. Others, like McDonald's (MCD), are obvious symbols of issues and trends that the 99% rails against.
So without further adieu, here are the nine names we selected for The Occupy Wall Street Index:
1. Goldman Sachs. Were you expecting anyone else in the top spot? For the 99%, Goldman -- having profited from the inflation of the credit bubble, only to get bailed out by the Federal government when reckless risk-taking put the firm's security in jeopardy -- is the definitive symbol of Wall-Street evil.
Goldman just might be feeling the heat, as management has reportedly instructed its employees to steer clear of Zuccotti Park, a.k.a. the unofficial Occupy Wall Street headquarters in lower Manhattan.
2. JPMorgan Chase (JPM). Behind Goldman, JPMorgan is the most-hated too-big-to-fail financial institution for the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Why? Well, quite a few folks are ticked off about JPM's foreclosure robo-signing activities, while others were convinced that CEO Jamie Dimon has Fed Chair Ben Bernanke on a leash.
Dimon is seen as a modern-day financial robber baron, and that will keep his firm in Occupy Wall Street's crosshairs.
3. News Corp. It's not possible to attend an Occupy Wall Street protest without spotting at least one sign mentioning Fox News, News Corp's flagship US media property.
Pretty simple thinking here: Fox commentators have been harsh on the movement, with Bill O'Reilly calling demonstrators "drug-trafficking crackheads" at one point. In fact, the liberal-leaning Media Matters For America places Fox News among "right-wing media" that "have engaged in a relentless smear campaign against the Occupy Wall Street movement."
4. General Electric (GE). The company is a frequent punching bag for the 99%, but what is GE's ultimate sin? Simple -- getting a huge bailout, and then paying no taxes. In fact, the Institute for Policy Studies called GE "King of the Tax Dodgers."
Heck, GE's tax department is probably the most effective on Earth. How else could you explain a negative 64% US Federal tax rate for 2010? That's like one of us regular folks earning $50,000 this year, and getting a $32,000 refund next April!
From a purely capitalist perspective, those folks deserve far bigger bonuses than Goldman's army of traders and bankers.
5. BP (BP). We've chosen BP to represent not only Occupy Wall Street's hatred of corporate polluters, but also its support for workers rights. We all remember BP's disastrous 2010 spill in the Gulf, but the company has an astonishingly poor safety record that goes beyond last year's spill. Just one example: an entirely preventable Texas City plant disaster in 2005, in which 15 workers lost their lives.
As of mid-2010, the Office of Safety and Health Administration had fined BP a whopping 760 times, exactly 759 more times than it did ExxonMobil (XOM). Would you feel safe working for BP?
6. McDonald's. Income inequality is a major issue for the 99%. In fact, 99% specifically refers to those folks who aren't in the top 1% that control much of the wealth in this country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the single worst-paying job in America is fast-food cook. So if you're looking for the bottom 1%, head to any restaurant with a 99-cent menu.
This revelation lands McDonald's, the largest publicly traded fast-food chain, in our index as a symbol of just how small a full-time paycheck can be.
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