Occupy Wall Street may fade as quickly as it rose
The movement is facing winter, an increasingly crowded news environment and an inability to directly affect the high-paid CEOs and bankers it's targeting.
By Peter Leeds, guest columnist
The faster anything rises, generally the faster it falls. Occupy Wall Street may be another example of this, as media coverage, social media activity, and activist numbers have all started dropping off. This is only expected to continue, especially with the onset of winter.
According to Google Trends, searches for Occupy Wall Street have fallen by 66% from their October 15th peak to November 11th. This is reinforced further by the Pew Research Center's weekly news index, which shows "Occupy Wall Street" dropping from 10% of total news coverage across their network on October 1st, to where it sits currently at less than 4%.
Trendistic, which tracks total Twitter activity, showed "Occupy" related tweets peaking at 0.30% on October 1st. Since then, the same metric has fallen to a fraction of that peak, to levels of 0.01% on November 11th.
Media interest is cooling
Add to this the "luke warm" interest that media has been giving to Occupy's recent "March to D.C.," with protesters making the 240 mile trek to the White House before the meeting of the Congressional Super-Committee on November 23rd. A quick Google Trends search states that there is not enough related search volume to display any data or graphs.
With several other major events arising, such as the death of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, the pending resignation of Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, and European debt struggles, Occupy Wall Street may be facing an increasingly crowded media coverage environment. When Greece teeters on the brink of financial collapse, or another multi-billion Euro bailout is announced, or Herman Cain faces sexual misconduct allegations, "old" news like Occupy Wall Street gets bumped.
Even a casual observer passing the protest sites would note that the presence of media crews has fallen off significantly, while the number of protesters also seems to be waning. Now, the toughest test of their will is about to arrive. That test is the winter, and it could chase away all but the most resolute.
This is not to imply that the protesters have lost any of their resolve, or the issues have gotten any less serious. Rather, Occupy Wall Street could use these obstacles as an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment, and separate the die hards from the "tourists."
Keep in mind that any large-scale movement will have a lot of marginal players among its masses, people who are boosting the numbers by being involved, but who aren't adamant enough to remain for the long haul. This type of supporter will be the first to fade away, able to say they were part of the movement, but eventually being pulled back into their former life.
Remember that all peaceful uprisings end in one of two ways -- either they disperse and are forgotten (even by their activists in some cases), or they stop once they achieved their goal(s).
Do bankers and CEOs care?
The problem with this, however, is that Occupy Wall Street's goals may not ever be accomplished. The targets of much of the activism are not being hurt or in any significant way affected by the protests.
Until that happens, Manhattan and global bankers are more than happy to watch the crowds from a safe distance, with a mildly curious eye, while they close their latest ultra-risky $20 million credit default swap deal with the European Union (taking home another massive commission in the process).
I think that just about everyone would agree -- a CEO being fired, but walking away with $10 million (as did Hewlett-Packard's Leo Apotheker) is nearly preposterous. This is especially true considering that during his time at the helm, the company's share price fell over 40%. Perhaps that's why he got fired.
The scope and activities of the Occupy Wall Street movement, in their current form, will almost certainly not be enough to change the way Hewlett-Packard competes for top CEO talent. They won't impact what contractual decisions the corporation must make to get the contract signed by the leader they want.
What about protesting for change on the steps of Washington? It's also difficult for the government to regulate how a company decides to spend its money in the course of doing business, and how it pays out salaries, bonuses, and severances.
This would be a different situation if there were two dozen protesters in each corporate board room as deals were closed, but to the members of the board of the major corporations, the activists are a world away. Even if they are just a few floors down, on the other side of the glass.
The movement needs a strong leader
Without a clear end result that can be understood by even a disinterested party, Occupy Wall Street is coming across to some observers as being about "complaining" rather than offering solutions. I certainly do not agree that the activists are complaining, and I do think they are offering solutions, but as it stands you may get six different answers from six different activists about what specific outcomes they are working towards.
Being a leaderless organization has served them well up to this point. However, they may really benefit in the future by having a spokesperson at least, if not a central leadership group. A leader could clarify goals, generate endless media coverage, and stand as a representation of the movement. He or she could also rally and organize the supporters and help maintain morale for what's about to come. Specifically, a further drop off in media coverage, third-party interest, and activist numbers. And, of course, winter.
While the world is currently being "Occupied," it remains to be seen how much longer this will play out. Trends are going against the protesters now. However, if Occupy Wall Street does endure throughout the toughest months to come, perhaps with a strong leader, or refined goals, it will be a very hard movement to ignore.
Investment analyst Peter Leeds is the owner and founder of Peter Leeds Penny Stocks, and author of the new book Invest in Penny Stocks: A Guide to Profitable Trading (Wiley – March 2011).
The change should include removing the incumbent Dems/Reps and replacing them with non professional politicians who have demonstrated they cannot work together, look beyond partisan politics, or move the country forward. Throw them out. Occupy Congress by sending both a clear message and new life blood into the process of governing our country of-by-and for the people.
Send the school teacher, the border cop, the journalist, the veteran to take a seat in the chamber worn out by suits of ineffectual non performance. Send the message in November and again in 2 years and again in 2 more. If not now, WHEN?
I that the point of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the fact that Americans are waking up to the fact that the American dream is in danger. When getting into college means for many students burying themselves in debt and seniors worrying about losing benefits that they have been paying into for years. This is a serious problem. When politicians talk about cutting our Medicare and social security, why don’t they lead by example by cutting their own pension and Medicare plans which are separate (and better) than everyone else’s! Such hypocrites! Always willing to make hard decisions about everyone else’s wallet.
A total waste of time, accomplished nothing but the destruction of a few parks. Try "voting" next election, that might make a difference.
before goals can be accomplished you need to state what they are. the wall street occupiers haven't been clear on their goals.
meanwhile, their effort i believe will reform into another more well stated focus. the term "1%'er" is a good example. we know what that is and we know "they" are in control. i think the WSO's are up in arms over this 1% that rules the world. and i look forward to little steps occuring that helps to perhaps turn this into the 2%'ers.
3 reasons for drop off maybe... Sites aren't getting as many hits, because contrary to what most media reports. People have found out what we are about. The list of demands has on been on the site since the first week of all this. And other places as well.
Also, since the media doesn't even mention things like this video on youtube.. Occupy cal 11/9/11
But, things like this, get a front page.. A group of young protesters interupted Rep. Michele Bachmann's speech in South Carolina Thursday, chanting and reading from statements in unison
"chanting?" hmm.. why don't they say how her people started "chanting"..
That would explain allot. That could be a few reasons.
If you care about your Republic please go on youtube and watch "Invisible Empire" a New World Order Defined. I hate to break it to everyone but your political affiliation won't matter in a few years as you controllers will not be elected. Thank you to all of our veterans.
What Wall Street could do is give every protester one share of Exxon stock and then tell them all to go home.
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Serious issues like drought and the deterioration of the developed world spell opportunity for this industry leader.
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