Daily Ticker

Can Cute Cats Make Sense of Wall Street?

Cats are America’s favorite pet and they're superstars on the Internet. The furry four-legged felines are also helping their human companions learn finance.

Alexis Goldstein, a former Wall Street professional and Occupy Wall Street activist, has created a Tumblr account to educate non-Wall Street types about why they should care about financial regulation. (Yahoo! made it official this week and agreed to buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash). Goldstein calls the blog “Because Finance Is Boring” and gets her message across by posting cute cat pictures or videos with sardonic and witty captions.

For example: Goldstein uses a photo of a cat sitting in a paper bag with a hole cut out for its face and wrote on top: “Imma put my derivatives overseas…no one will regulate them there. Thx, HE 1256!” Goldstein was referring to the “Swaps Jurisdiction Certainty Act” which would require the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to review the regulations of large swaps markets. The law would allow big banks to hold derivatives overseas in foreign subsidiaries to avoid or dodge U.S. regulations. Goldstein argues that the bill was designed to “intimidate” the CFTC and if this bill becomes law, “all the reform we’ve put in place with Dodd-Frank won’t matter.”

Financial regulation has become a hot topic after the 2008 financial crisis but understanding the intricacies of the markets and how they impact individuals and companies can, on occasion, be dry. Goldstein started up the cat meme Tumblr at the urging of a friend and says in an interview with The Daily Ticker that the response has been “good.”

But employing cats to highlight criminal malfeasance at banks has one drawback: too cute of a cat pic makes people start to sympathize with the banks, she says.

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