BY | October 13, 2011

By Arun Kumar

Washington, (IANS) As a protest movement against corporate America grows bigger by the day, Citigroup’s Indian American CEO Vikram Pandit thinks the sentiments of the Occupy Wall Street protesters are “completely understandable”.

“Their sentiments are completely understandable,” Pandit said in an interview Wednesday with Fortune Magazine. “The economic recovery is not what we all want it to be, there are a number of people in our country who can’t achieve what they are capable of achieving and that’s not a good place to be.”

“I would also corroborate that trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the US and that it’s Wall Street’s job to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust,” Pandit said adding “I’d be happy to talk to them any time they want to come up.”

Several hundred people tied to the movement marched on the New York City homes of Wall Street figures, including billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson and JP Morgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon Wednesday. Four people were arrested outside Dimon’s offices as protesters called in vain for a meeting with him.

Pandit, who bought a 10-room apartment on the Upper West Side for $17.9 million in 2007, said he would tell the protesters how Citigroup, the third-biggest US bank, is trying to increase lending to small businesses.

Originally called for by the Canadian activist group Adbusters, Wall Street rallies started last month in New York’s financial district Sep 17 protesting against income inequality, corporate greed, the power of financial institutions and advocate higher taxes for the wealthy.

As the protests inspired similar demonstrations in some 70 cities across America, news media coverage of the Occupy movement has spread, too, to the front pages of newspapers and the tops of television newscasts.

Coverage of the movement last week was, for the first time, quantitatively equivalent to early coverage of the Tea Party movement in early 2009, according to data released Wednesday by the Pew Research Centre.

Meanwhile, the movement, which has been compared by some to the Arab Spring movement, sparked clashes in the national capital Washington DC and Boston where scores of protesters were arrested Tuesday.

In Boston, scores of protesters were arrested Tuesday morning, including a group of veterans, in one of the largest mass arrests in recent Boston history.

In Washington, six people were arrested as protestors entered a Senate office building and began chanting loudly and unfurling banners calling for the end of overseas wars and for increased taxes on the rich.

As the anti-Wall Street protest reached San Francisco Wednesday, protestors surrounded the Wells Fargo Bank corporate headquarters and blocked its entrances leading to the arrest of 11 demonstrators.

Pledging to “foreclose the banks,” demonstrators marched protesters posted blown-up foreclosure notices on the doors, held up by stickers reading, “We are the 99 percent.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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