Saturday, January 31, 2009

What Is a Bank?

I was in my local branch bank today to expedite a computer glitch, and the banker suggested that I cancel one of my accounts and open a different type that would pay 1% interest instead of 0.5% interest. My response was that at this time banks are Piggy Banks, places for holding your money securely, and places to store cash as a liquid asset, but that they are no longer sources of significant earnings. In this economy, it is important to have cash in the bank as protection against the declining stock market. Cash in the bank means you don't have to sell securities and turn a paper loss into an actual loss. However, most bankers still talk about their interest rates with a straight face, as though they mean something. Banks are quick to cut the interest rates they pay on deposits when the Fed lowers their rates for borrowing funds, but they completely resist lowering the rates they charge for outstanding balances on credit cards. Why is this so? What is there about the people on Wall Street who single-handedly ruined the world's economy, that makes them think they deserve huge bonuses for having done so? Maybe we need a new financial system wherein loans are issued by companies that have actually earned the money in their coffers. Then they would really be loaning their own money and would be more careful with it. The banks deal in someone else's money but treat it as their own.

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