Monday, January 14, 2013


The autumn leaves of banking.  Failure of proper investment in our community.  Chase megabank tries to sell its plush  main office riverfront property in Port Huron, October 2010.  Then for a short time sub-lets a portion to an orthopedics office, now gone.  The County Jail to the south of it, and the YMCA seen to the north are now empty lots.

A recent business news item brought back to mind why my wife and I have recently gone through the hassle of moving our checking account from a local [JP Morgan] Chase bank, two blocks away, to Eastern Michigan Bank, closest branch downtown about two miles distant [but on our regular route to work and church].  The service at Chase on Garfield St. had always been personal and competent, but they are part of our very problematic national financial system.  The recent headlines read, Top JPMorgan [Chase] exec joins London Whale winning firm.”

Our local bank, for all its good personality and convenience, is part of a global dog-eat-dog financial industry crapshoot.  This particular article reports that the CEO, who’d been leader of the Chase division {proprietary trading desks} losing $6 billion in “credit derivative” bets in 2012, is now jumping ship.  He’s landing on deck of one of the very hedge funds that won big in the bets against our Chase bank money.  Mr. Jes Staley’s gain, our loss.  And Jamie Dimon, captain of the ship, still commands the Morgan Chase helm.
A little more history on recent financial industry permutations is helpful.  JP Morgan, one of the top speculator “investment banks,” had in 2000 swallowed up the Chase Manhattan retail & commercial banking national chain.  Using the Chase accounts as leverage, JP Morgan was enabled, by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley legislation of 1999, to vastly increase its speculative quest for bank profits.  This super-bank is the largest in the U.S. by assets at present, and has formed one of the largest hedge fund units in the U.S., and is the second largest public company in the world.  It’s become too big to fail, but already has, being party to the U.S. taxpayers $700 billion bailout of all the big banks in the financial speculative disasters of 2008.
What are individual account holders, wanting to act conservatively and responsibly, to do in the face of such gross fiscal abuse of the public trust?  Ultimately we should organize to require government regulation that would break up these financial mega-institutions, and regulate the smaller units so that they would operate for the public good.  The goal: real long term investment in the country, instead of micro-second speculative trading for the sole purpose of profit-taking.  The hi-tech money changers have turned our national banks into a den of thieves.  Yet to return to the ideas of small banking, noblesse oblige, and progressive taxation of the rich is a difficult task, an uphill battle.

ne can begin the work of getting financial institutions to take the interests of everyday people seriously by everyone beginning to move their money out of the big banks.  There is a website, Move Your Money, dedicated to this campaign.  Small local banks and credit unions that will use our money to foster local growth, and avoid risky mega-ventures, can be found.  Money placed there is more likely to work for our friends and neighbors. The more money withdrawn from the coffers of those who’d maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else, the better--a redirection of funds back to the basic needs of a working inventive America.

It takes some personal time and dedication to close out an account at your mega-bank, and open it at one more local, what with debit cards and automatic payments and deposits details.  But it’s a practical way to start changing the high-roller corporate bank culture.  Most local banks / credit unions are so good at being full service, that boycotting the big ones is no loss in convenience, and may help create a more rational equitable financial system in which America’s money is working more for all of us.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


It is true that even small banks and credit unions, to varying degree, are dependent on larger financial systems for security and movement of funds, but that is a complex issue for further study.  Good resources that outline our problematic financial institutions are the books,

The Big Short, -- by Michael Lewis

13 Bankers,     -- by Simon Johnson

Enough,          -- by John Bogle

Available at your local library – a conservative investment.

An additional inditement of JP Morgan Chase Bank arrives today 1-15-13
Interesting presentation of Glass Steagall Act, replaced in 1999, as a hindrance to money's best interests--written in 2003 before the crash.

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