December 29, 2009
Say Goodbye to Potter

It strikes me as at base a good idea. Any means of hitting the big banks is a good idea, and the Jimmy Stewart favorite at holiday season contributes a old-timey moral quality. I really hope you watch this video, it’s only four minutes long and includes a bunch of scenes from It’s a Wonderful Life.



The question is, why are people in the position to move their accounts to begin with? And the second question is, why does the “Move Your Money” site’s local-bank finder, which generates a useful list of solvent local banks by zip code, omit credit unions? I would have thought everyone who could would join a credit union in preference to a bank. And in California, at least, that’s pretty much anyone. You can’t sign up with absolutely any credit union you find; some are organization-specific or require residence in certain areas, for example. But you can easily find several you can join. In San Francisco, for example, I think anyone can join the firemen’s credit union, or at least any city resident.

Commenters on the HuffPo post complained that not many people will move because the big banks control the credit cards, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference in the situation I understand. Credit unions can still issue Visa cards, for example.

Perhaps the commenter’s referring to people addicted to having lots of credit cards as a means of financing consumption they can’t really pay for. Then aren’t the banks the equivalent of drug kingpins of the type we execute when we can catch them? I think we know where the bankers live.

But more importantly, and more realistically, we do know where they live economically speaking, and that, as Thorstein Veblen pointed out over a century ago, is the stage on which battles of strength take place these days. The leisure class strikes at its enemies, internal and external, financially.

So let’s strike back.

JP Morgan/Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America may be “too big to fail” — but they are not too big to feel the impact of hundreds of thousands of people taking action to change a broken financial and political system. Let them gamble with their own money, not yours. Let’s turn big banks into smaller banks. We’ll all be better off — and safer — as a result.

The only real way, as far as I can see, to affect corporate behavior is boycotts of one form or another. The best ones are in the self-interest of the boycotters. And boy, is this one of those!

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at December 29, 2009 10:23 PM
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The whole premise of this is wrong. Banks see the world upside-down from the way you and I see it. (That explains a lot, IMHO.) They see savings accounts, certificates of deposit and even checking accounts as liabilities (i.e., potential expenses) and your loans, credit cards and other debts as assets (potential income). Keep your checking and savings at the major banks, but pay off your loans and credit cards (or refinance them via other institutions, like credit unions). This will leave the major banks with fewer assets but more liabilities, which puts the squeeze on them. Simply taking your money out of the banks leaves them with fewer liabilities on the books, which I'm sure will make the banksters happier.

Posted by: Colin Escherich on January 1, 2010 2:58 AM

What??? Are you claiming that deposits are liabilities from the bank's point of view? That's a difficult case to make…

Posted by: Chuck Dupree on January 1, 2010 3:39 AM
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