By Will Pavia
AT the centre of the Occupy Wall Street movement is a man with an excellent grasp of the international banking system. Specifically, Vlad Teichberg knows a lot about the repackaging of subprime debt into collateralised debt obligations, a measure widely blamed for triggering the global financial crisis.
Indeed, he worked on several himself. Mr Teichberg, 39, is one of the original members of the Occupy Wall Street encampment and a prime mover in efforts to spread the protest movement worldwide and initiate a discussion of potential objectives via a global television network.
He is also a former derivatives trader who worked at Deutsche Bank and at Swiss Re. “I was part of a group that put together CDOs,” he said. “I ended up being one of the people (who) built that bomb that blew up the whole economy.”
Mr Teichberg speaks rapidly and with a slight Russian accent, the vestige of a childhood in Moscow.
He studied maths at Princeton, then went to work in banking. “My 20s were spent having a great time,” he said.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, he felt “the country made a massive shift to the Right”. He left Wall Street to become a video artist and political activist, increasingly convinced of the potential of video streaming as a means to build a protest movement.
When the Occupy Wall Street began, Mr Teichberg and his nascent media collective Global Revolution began leasing a small room in NoHo, a neighbourhood in New York, and training camera operators. Since then, clips of protests and police interventions have generated fresh surges of support for the occupiers.
Last week footage of police firing tear gas at protesters in Oakland inspired a solidarity march in New York, which in turn produced footage of another clash with the New York Police Department.
“This is the video that will win the war in New York,” Mr Teichberg said. “You see all these police officers beating people up. It’s a pattern of physical repression.”
Editors at Global Revolution, including Mr Teichberg’s pregnant wife, Nikky, work around the clock, cutting between live feeds from world cities like producers stitching together different angles of a football match.
No one can speak Greek, which presents a problem, but protesters often address the camera in English. “At Occupy Amsterdam they debated speaking in English,” Mr Teichberg said. “They said: ‘No, we are in Amsterdam.’ So the cameraman began translating what was said into English.”
A chat room on the web page beside each live feed allows occupiers to communicate with each other and their viewers. Recent videos show a Slovenian man assuring well-wishers that he was feeling a lot better now, and a protester in London offering a frank opinion on capital and labour. “The socialists will hate me for saying this,” he said, before adding glumly: “And the right wing usually (attacks) me as well.”