In 2008, the United States economy experienced a nearly unprecedented crisis, due to a perfect storm involving banking deregulation, complex derivatives, financial mismanagement, and larger systemic causes, including an inadequate educational system. Three years later, people rose up in protest—an organic national movement called Occupy Wall Street, its members chanting "we are the 99%" and saying that our system was broken, gamed by the wealthy and powerful.
The movement brought an entire nation's frustration with a runaway banking and financial sector, student debt, and unequal educational opportunities to the forefront of public debate. And thoughtful institutions responded, investing time and money to look into the phenomenon. On April 17th and 18th of 2012, the Rockefeller Foundation funded two panel discussions to address these urgent questions. The panels were sponsored by the New School and were held at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC, and the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Moderator John Cassidy of The New Yorker perhaps summed up the issues best when he noted that the 1960s and 1970s had discredited the idea of an all-efficient government, and the 90s and zeros had done a very good job of discrediting the idea of an all-efficient market. "What's to replace both of those ideologies?" Cassidy asked. "That remains to be seen--Occupy Wall Street is obviously a part of the discussion."
Panelists included, among others, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow; Pulitzer Prize-winning financial journalist David Cay Johnston; world-class international economists Jeffrey Sachs, Raghu Rajan, Carmen Reinhart, and Robin Wells; the Financial Times's Martin Wolf, and Bethany McLean of Vanity Fair.
Both panels grew out of The Occupy Handbook, a compendium of articles, edited by Janet Byrne, featuring leading economists and others on the causes and implications of the Occupy movement. This video features selections from the two panel discussions as well as public remarks by contributors to the Handbook.