Do you remember when our politicians promised to do something about the “too big to fail” banks? Well, they didn’t, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. On Thursday, it was announced that one of those “too big to fail” banks, Wells Fargo, has been slapped with 185 million dollars in penalties. It turns out that for years their employees had been opening millions of bank and credit card accounts for customers without even telling them. The goal was to meet sales goals, and customers were hit by surprise fees that they never intended to pay. Some employees actually created false email addresses and false PIN numbers to sign customers up for accounts. It was fraud on a scale that is hard to imagine, and now Wells Fargo finds itself embroiled in a major crisis.
There are six banks in America that basically dwarf all of the other banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. If a single one of those banks were to fail, it would be a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions for our financial system. So we need these banks to be healthy and running well. That is why what we just learned about Wells Fargo is so concerning…
Employees of Wells Fargo (WFC) boosted sales figures by covertly opening the accounts and funding them by transferring money from customers’ authorized accounts without permission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Los Angeles city officials said.
An analysis by the San Francisco-headquartered bank found that its employees opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by consumers, the officials said. Many of the transfers ran up fees or other charges for the customers, even as they helped employees make incentive goals.
Wells Fargo says that 5,300 employees have been fired as a result of this conduct, and they are promising to clean things up.
Hopefully they will keep their word.
It is interesting to note that the largest shareholder in Wells Fargo is Berkshire Hathaway, and Berkshire Hathaway is run by Warren Buffett. There has been a lot of debate about whether or not this penalty on Wells Fargo was severe enough, and it will be very interesting to hear what he has to say about this in the coming days…
Wells Fargo is the most valuable bank in America, worth just north of $250 billion. Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), the investment firm run legendary investor Warren Buffett, is the company’s biggest shareholder.
“One wonders whether a penalty of $100 million is enough,” said David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor and former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It sounds like a big number, but for a bank the size of Wells Fargo, it isn’t really.”
After the last crisis, we were told that we would never be put in a position again where the health of a single “too big to fail” institution could threaten to bring down our entire financial system.
But our politicians didn’t fix the “too big to fail” problem.
Instead it has gotten much, much worse.
Back in 2007, the five largest banks held 35 percent of all bank assets. Today, that number is up to 44 percent…
Since 1992, the total assets held by the five largest U.S. banks has increased by nearly fifteen times! Back then, the five largest banks held just 10 percent of the banking industry total. Today, JP Morgan alone holds over 12 percent of the industry total, a greater share than the five biggest banks put together in 1992.
Even in the midst of the global financial crisis, the largest U.S. banks managed to increase their hold on total bank industry assets. The assets held by the five largest banks in 2007 – $4.6 trillion – increased by more than 150 percent over the past 8 years. These five banks went from holding 35 percent of industry assets in 2007 to 44 percent today.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 smaller institutions have disappeared from our financial system since the beginning of the last crisis.
So the problem of “too big to fail” is now larger than ever.
Considering how reckless these big banks have been, it is inevitable that one or more of them will fail at some point. When that takes place, it will make the collapse of Lehman Brothers look like a Sunday picnic.
And with each passing day, the rumblings of a new financial crisis grow louder. For example, this week we learned that commercial bankruptcy filings in the United States in August were up a whopping 29 percent compared to the same period a year ago…
In August, US commercial bankruptcy filings jumped 29% from a year ago to 3,199, the 10th month in a row of year-over-year increases, the American Bankruptcy Institute, in partnership with Epiq Systems, reported today.
There’s money to be made. While stockholders and some creditors get raked over the coals, lawyers make a killing on fees. And some folks on the inside track, hedge funds, and private equity firms can make a killing picking up assets for cents on the dollar.
Companies are going bankrupt at a rate that we haven’t seen since the last financial crisis, but nobody seems concerned.
Back in 2007 and early 2008, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, President Bush and a whole host of “experts” assured us that everything was going to be just fine and that a recession was not coming.
Today, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Barack Obama and a whole host of “experts” are assuring us that everything is going to be just fine and that a recession is not coming.
I hope that they are right.
I really do.
But there is a reason why so many firms are filing for bankruptcy, and there is a reason why so many Americans are getting behind on their auto loans.
Our giant debt bubble is beginning to burst, and this is going to cause a tremendous amount of financial chaos.
Let us just hope that the “too big to fail” banks can handle the stress this time around.
The biggest bank in the western world has just come out and declared that the global economy is “already in a recession”. According to British banking giant HSBC, global trade is down 8.4 percent so far this year, and global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent. So those that are waiting for the next worldwide economic recession to begin can stop waiting. It is officially here. As you will see below, money is fleeing emerging markets at a blistering pace, major global banks are stuck with huge loans that will never be repaid, and it looks like a very significant worldwide credit crunch has begun. Just a few days ago, I explained that the IMF, the UN, the BIS And Citibank were all warning that a major economic crisis could be imminent. They aren’t just making this stuff up out of thin air, but most Americans still seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. The level of blind faith in the system that most people are demonstrating right now is absolutely astounding.
The numbers say that the global economy has not been in this bad shape since the devastating recession that shook the world in 2008 and 2009. According to HSBC, “we are already in a dollar recession”…
Global trade is also declining at an alarming pace. According to the latest data available in June the year on year change is -8.4%. To find periods of equivalent declines we only really find recessionary periods. This is an interesting point. On one metric we are already in a recession. As can be seen in Chart 3 on the following page, global GDP expressed in US dollars is already negative to the tune of USD 1,37trn or -3.4%. That is, we are already in a dollar recession.
Here is the chart that Zero Hedge posted along with the quote above. As you can see, the only time global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars has fallen faster in recent years was during the horrible recession of seven years ago…
But there are still a whole lot of incredibly clueless people running around out there claiming that “nothing is happening” even though more signs of trouble are erupting all around us every single day.
For instance, just today CNBC published an article entitled “The US is closer to deflation than you think“, and Twitter just announced that it plans to lay off 8 percent of its entire workforce.
But of course the biggest problems are happening in “emerging markets” right now. The following is an excerpt from an article that was just published in a major British news source entitled “The world economic order is collapsing and this time there seems no way out“…
Now act three is beginning, but in countries much less able to devise measures to stop financial contagion and whose banks are more precarious. For global finance next flooded the so-called emerging market economies (EMEs), countries such as Turkey, Brazil, Malaysia, China, all riding high on sky-high commodity prices as the China boom, itself fuelled by wild lending, seemed never-ending. China manufactured more cement from 2010-13 than the US had produced over the entire 20th century. It could not last and so it is proving.
China’s banks are, in effect, bust: few of the vast loans they have made can ever be repaid, so they cannot now lend at the rate needed to sustain China’s once super-high but illusory growth rates. China’s real growth is now below that of the Mao years: the economic crisis will spawn a crisis of legitimacy for the deeply corrupt communist party. Commodity prices have crashed.
Money is flooding out of the EMEs, leaving overborrowed companies, indebted households and stricken banks, but EMEs do not have institutions such as the Federal Reserve or European Central Bank to knock up rescue packages. Yet these nations now account for more than half of global GDP. Small wonder the IMF is worried.
It is one thing for The Economic Collapse Blog to warn that “the world economic order is collapsing”, but this is one of the biggest newspapers in the UK.
I was writing about these emerging market problems back in July, but at that time very few really understood the true gravity of the situation. But now giant banks such as Goldman Sachs are calling this the third stage of the ongoing global financial crisis. The following comes from a recent CNBC piece entitled “Is EM turmoil the third wave of the financial crisis? Goldman thinks so“…
Emerging markets aren’t just suffering through another market rout—it’s a third wave of the global financial crisis, Goldman Sachs said.
“Increased uncertainty about the fallout from weaker emerging market economies, lower commodity prices and potentially higher U.S. interest rates are raising fresh concerns about the sustainability of asset price rises, marking a new wave in the Global Financial Crisis,” Goldman said in a note dated last week.
The emerging market wave, coinciding with the collapse in commodity prices, follows the U.S. stage, which marked the fallout from the housing crash, and the European stage, when the U.S. crisis spread to the continent’s sovereign debt, the bank said.
You know that it is late in the game when Goldman Sachs starts sounding exactly like The Economic Collapse Blog. I have been warning about a “series of waves” for years.
When will people wake up?
What is it going to take?
The crisis is happening right now.
Of course many Americans will refuse to acknowledge what is going on until the Dow Jones Industrial Average collapses by several thousand more points. And that is coming. But let us all hope that day is delayed for as long as possible, because all of our lives will become much crazier once that happens.
And the truth is that many Americans do understand that bad times are on the horizon. Just check out the following numbers that were recently reported by CNBC…
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds views on the current state of the economy about stable, with 23 percent saying it is good or excellent and 42 percent judging it as fair. About a third say the economy is poor, up 3 points from the June survey.
But the percentage of Americans who believe the economy will get worse rose 6 points to 32 percent, the highest level since the government shutdown in 2013. And just 22 percent believe the economy will get better, 2 points lower than June and the lowest level since 2008, when the nation was gripped by recession.
If you want to believe that everything is going to be just fine somehow, then go ahead and believe that.
All I can do is present the facts. For months I have been warning about this financial crisis, and now it is playing out as a slow-motion train wreck right in front of our eyes.
We are moving into a period of time during which events are going to start to move much more rapidly, and life as we know it is about to change in a major way for all of us.
Hopefully you have already been preparing for what is about to come.
If not, I wouldn’t want to be in your position.
The warnings are getting louder. Is anybody listening? For months, I have been documenting on my website how the global financial system is absolutely primed for a crisis, and now some of the most important financial institutions in the entire world are warning about the exact same thing. For example, this week I was stunned to see that the Telegraph had published an article with the following ominous headline: “$3 trillion corporate credit crunch looms as debtors face day of reckoning, says IMF“. And actually what we are heading for would more accurately be described as a “credit freeze” or a “credit panic”, but a “credit crunch” will definitely work for now. The IMF is warning that the “dangerous over-leveraging” that we have been witnessing “threatens to unleash a wave of defaults” all across the globe…
Governments and central banks risk tipping the world into a fresh financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned, as it called time on a corporate debt binge in the developing world.
Emerging market companies have “over-borrowed” by $3 trillion in the last decade, reflecting a quadrupling of private sector debt between 2004 and 2014, found the IMF’s Global Financial Stability Report.
This dangerous over-leveraging now threatens to unleash a wave of defaults that will imperil an already weak global economy, said stark findings from the IMF’s twice yearly report.
The IMF is actually telling the truth in this instance. We are in the midst of the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen, and it is a monumental threat to the global financial system.
But even though we know about this threat, that doesn’t mean that we can do anything about it at this point or stop what is about to happen.
The Bank of England, the UN and the Bank for International Settlements have all issued similar ominous warnings. The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Guardian…
The IMF’s warning echoes a chorus of others. The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has argued that the world is entering the latest episode of a “three-part crisis trilogy”. Unctad, the UN’s trade and development arm, would like to see advanced economies boost public spending to offset the downturn in emerging economies. The Bank for International Settlements believes interest rates have been too low for too long, encouraging too much risk-taking in financial markets. All of them fear that the global financial system is primed for a crisis.
I particularly like Andy Haldane’s likening our current situation to a “three-part crisis trilogy”. I think that is perfect. And if you are familiar with movie trilogies, then you know that the last episode is usually the biggest and the baddest.
Citigroup economist Willem Buiter also believes that big trouble is on the horizon. In fact, he is publicly warning of a “global recession” in 2016…
Citigroup economist Willem Buiter looks at the world landscape and sees an economy performing substantially below potential output, which he uses as the general benchmark for the idea of a global recession. With that in mind, he said the chances of a global recession in 2016 are growing.
“We think that the evidence suggests that the global output gap is negative and that the global economy is currently growing at a rate below global potential growth. The (negative) output gap is therefore widening,” Buiter said in a note to clients. He added, “from an output gap that was probably quite close to zero fairly recently, continued sub-par global growth is likely to put the global economy back into recession, if indeed the world ever fully emerged of the recession caused by the global financial crisis.”
Usually when we are plunged into a new crisis there is some sort of “trigger event” that creates widespread panic. Yesterday, I wrote about the ongoing problems at commodity giants such as Glencore, Trafigura and The Noble Group. The collapse of any of them could potentially be a new “Lehman Brothers moment”.
But something else happened just yesterday that is also extremely concerning. Just a couple of weeks ago, I warned that the biggest bank in Germany, Deutsche Bank, was on the verge of massive trouble. Well, on Wednesday the bank announced a loss of more than 6 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2015…
Deutsche Bank’s new boss John Cryan set about cleaning up Germany’s biggest bank on Thursday, revealing a record pre-tax loss of 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in the third quarter and warning investors of a possible dividend cut.
Write downs, impairments and litigation costs all contributed to the loss, the bank said.
Cryan became chief executive in July with a promise to cut costs. The Briton is accelerating plans to shed assets and exit countries to shrink the bank and is preparing to ax about 23,000 jobs, or a quarter of the bank’s staff, sources told Reuters last month.
Keep an eye on Germany – the problems there are just beginning.
Something else that I am closely watching is the fact that major exporting nations such as China that used to buy up lots of U.S. government debt are now dumping that debt at an unprecedented pace. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Five large purchasers of US Treasuries – China, Russia, Norway, Brazil, and Taiwan – have changed their minds. They’re dumping Treasuries, each for their own reasons that are now coinciding. And at the fastest rate on record.
For the 12-month period ended July, sales of Treasuries by central banks around the world reached a net of $123 billion, “the biggest decline since data started to be collected in 1978,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
China, the largest foreign owner of Treasuries – its hoard peaking at $1.317 trillion in November 2013 – has been unloading with particular passion. By July, the latest data available from the US Treasury Department, China’s pile was down to $1.241 trillion.
Yes, I know, the stock market went up once again on Thursday, and all of the irrational optimists are once again telling us that everything is going to be just fine.
The truth, of course, is that everything is not going to be just fine. Ever since I started the Economic Collapse Blog, I have never wavered in my belief that the greatest economic crisis that the United States has ever seen is coming, and I have written well over 1000 articles setting forth the case for the coming collapse in excruciating detail. Nobody is going to be able to say that I didn’t try to warn them.
Those that have blind faith in Barack Obama, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the other major central banks around the planet will continue to mock the idea that a major collapse is coming for as long as they can.
But when the day of reckoning does arrive and crisis coming knocking at their doors, what will they do then?
The very same people that caused the last economic crisis have created a 278 TRILLION dollar derivatives time bomb that could go off at any moment. When this absolutely colossal bubble does implode, we are going to be faced with the worst economic crash in the history of the United States. During the last financial crisis, our politicians promised us that they would make sure that “too big to fail” would never be a problem again. Instead, as you will see below, those banks have actually gotten far larger since then. So now we really can’t afford for them to fail. The six banks that I am talking about are JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. When you add up all of their exposure to derivatives, it comes to a grand total of more than 278 trillion dollars. But when you add up all of the assets of all six banks combined, it only comes to a grand total of about 9.8 trillion dollars. In other words, these “too big to fail” banks have exposure to derivatives that is more than 28 times greater than their total assets. This is complete and utter insanity, and yet nobody seems too alarmed about it. For the moment, those banks are still making lots of money and funding the campaigns of our most prominent politicians. Right now there is no incentive for them to stop their incredibly reckless gambling so they are just going to keep on doing it.
So precisely what are “derivatives”? Well, they can be immensely complicated, but I like to simplify things. On a very basic level, a “derivative” is not an investment in anything. When you buy a stock, you are purchasing an ownership interest in a company. When you buy a bond, you are purchasing the debt of a company. But a derivative is quite different. In essence, most derivatives are simply bets about what will or will not happen in the future. The big banks have transformed Wall Street into the biggest casino in the history of the planet, and when things are running smoothly they usually make a whole lot of money.
But there is a fundamental flaw in the system, and I described this in a previous article…
The big banks use very sophisticated algorithms that are supposed to help them be on the winning side of these bets the vast majority of the time, but these algorithms are not perfect. The reason these algorithms are not perfect is because they are based on assumptions, and those assumptions come from people. They might be really smart people, but they are still just people.
Today, the “too big to fail” banks are being even more reckless than they were just prior to the financial crash of 2008.
As long as they keep winning, everyone is going to be okay. But when the time comes that their bets start going against them, it is going to be a nightmare for all of us. Our entire economic system is based on the flow of credit, and those banks are at the very heart of that system.
In fact, the five largest banks account for approximately 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for approximately 67 percent of all assets in our financial system.
So that is why they are called “too big to fail”. We simply cannot afford for them to go out of business.
As I mentioned above, our politicians promised that something would be done about this. But instead, the four largest banks in the country have gotten nearly 40 percent larger since the last time around. The following numbers come from an article in the Los Angeles Times…
Just before the financial crisis hit, Wells Fargo & Co. had $609 billion in assets. Now it has $1.4 trillion. Bank of America Corp. had $1.7 trillion in assets. That’s up to $2.1 trillion.
And the assets of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the nation’s biggest bank, have ballooned to $2.4 trillion from $1.8 trillion.
During this same time period, 1,400 smaller banks have completely disappeared from the banking industry.
So our economic system is now more dependent on the “too big to fail” banks than ever.
To illustrate how reckless the “too big to fail” banks have become, I want to share with you some brand new numbers which come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2)…
Total Assets: $2,573,126,000,000 (about 2.6 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $63,600,246,000,000 (more than 63 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,842,530,000,000 (more than 1.8 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $59,951,603,000,000 (more than 59 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $856,301,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $57,312,558,000,000 (more than 57 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $2,106,796,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $54,224,084,000,000 (more than 54 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $801,382,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $38,546,879,000,000 (more than 38 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,687,155,000,000 (about 1.7 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $5,302,422,000,000 (more than 5 trillion dollars)
Compared to the rest of them, Wells Fargo looks extremely prudent and rational.
But of course that is not true at all. Wells Fargo is being very reckless, but the others are being so reckless that it makes everyone else pale in comparison.
And these banks are not exactly in good shape for the next financial crisis that is rapidly approaching. The following is an excerpt from a recent Business Insider article…
The New York Times isn’t so sure about the results from the Federal Reserve’s latest round of stress tests.
In an editorial published over the weekend, The Times cites data from Thomas Hoenig, vice chairman of the FDIC, who, in contrast to the Federal Reserve, found that capital ratios at the eight largest banks in the US averaged 4.97% at the end of 2014, far lower than the 12.9% found by the Fed’s stress test.
That doesn’t sound good.
So what is up with the discrepancy in the numbers? The New York Times explains…
The discrepancy is due mainly to differing views of the risk posed by the banks’ vast holdings of derivative contracts used for hedging and speculation. The Fed, in keeping with American accounting rules and central bank accords, assumes that gains and losses on derivatives generally net out. As a result, most derivatives do not show up as assets on banks’ balance sheets, an omission that bolsters the ratio of capital to assets.
Mr. Hoenig uses stricter international accounting rules to value the derivatives. Those rules do not assume that gains and losses reliably net out. As a result, large derivative holdings are shown as assets on the balance sheet, an addition that reduces the ratio of capital to assets to the low levels reported in Mr. Hoenig’s analysis.
And you know what?
The guys running these big banks can see what is coming.
Just consider the words that JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon wrote to his shareholders not too long ago…
Some things never change — there will be another crisis, and its impact will be felt by the financial market.
The trigger to the next crisis will not be the same as the trigger to the last one – but there will be another crisis. Triggering events could be geopolitical (the 1973 Middle East crisis), a recession where the Fed rapidly increases interest rates (the 1980-1982 recession), a commodities price collapse (oil in the late 1980s), the commercial real estate crisis (in the early 1990s), the Asian crisis (in 1997), so-called “bubbles” (the 2000 Internet bubble and the 2008 mortgage/housing bubble), etc. While the past crises had different roots (you could spend a lot of time arguing the degree to which geopolitical, economic or purely financial factors caused each crisis), they generally had a strong effect across the financial markets
In the same letter, Dimon mentioned “derivatives moved by enormous players and rapid computerized trades” as part of the reason why our system is so vulnerable to another crisis.
If this is what he truly believes, why is his firm being so incredibly reckless?
Perhaps someone should ask him that.
Interestingly, Dimon also discussed the possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone…
“We must be prepared for a potential exit,” J. P. Morgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said. in his annual letter to shareholders. “We continually stress test our company for possible repercussions resulting from such an event.”
This is something that I have been warning about for a long time.
And of course Dimon is not the only prominent banker warning of big problems ahead. German banking giant Deutsche Bank is also sounding the alarm…
With a U.S. profit recession expected in the first half of 2015 and investors unlikely to pay up for stocks, the risk of a stock market drop of 5% to 10% is rising, Deutsche Bank says.
That’s the warning Deutsche Bank market strategist David Bianco zapped out to clients today before the opening bell on Wall Street.
Bianco expects earnings for the broad Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index to contract in the first half of 2015 — the first time that’s happened since 2009 during the financial crisis. And the combination of soft earnings and his belief that investors won’t pay top dollar for stocks in a market that is already trading at above-average valuations is a recipe for a short-term pullback on Wall Street.
The truth is that we are in the midst of a historic stock market bubble, and we are witnessing all sorts of patterns in the financial markets which also emerged back in 2008 right before the financial crash in the fall of that year.
When some of the most prominent bankers at some of the biggest banks on the entire planet start issuing ominous warnings, that is a clear sign that time is running out. The period of relative stability that we have been enjoying has been fun, and hopefully it will last just a little while longer. But at some point it will end, and then the pain will begin.
Millions of Americans are about to get stabbed in the back by their banks. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and several other large banks are either already implementing outrageous new bank fees or are currently testing them. So are these ridiculous new bank fees going to be enough to get millions of Americans to finally boycott the big banks? When millions of Americans start paying a $5 fee every month to use their debit cards and when millions of Americans start paying a $20 fee every single month just to have a checking account hopefully that will be enough to wake them up. These fees are certainly not going to cause an “economic collapse”, but they are incredibly annoying. The truth is that the big banks are trying to take advantage of us. It shouldn’t cost $60 a year just to use a debit card. It shouldn’t cost $240 a year just to have a checking account. What we need to do is to send an unequivocal message to the big banks: we don’t want your stinking bank fees and we are switching banks.
When I was growing up, I remember how banks would bend over backwards to get your business. The customer service was generally very good and banks were not gouging us with ridiculous fees.
But now thousands of smaller banks have been gobbled up by the banking giants and things have dramatically changed. The big banks don’t value us anymore. They seem to believe that they have a “captive audience” and that they can treat us however they want to.
Well, it is time for us to draw a line in the sand.
We didn’t mind so much that they were paying us next to nothing on our savings accounts.
We didn’t say too much when ATM fees soared into the stratosphere. For example, the average cost of using an “out of network” ATM in America today is approximately $3.81.
We didn’t even object too much when they started charging us fees for things such as getting paper statements, receiving wire transfers, or closing our accounts.
But now they have really crossed the line.
On October 1st, new federal regulations went into effect that capped what banks can charge merchants for debit card transactions.
The average fee on a debit card transaction used to be about 44 cents.
The new federal regulations cap the fee on merchants at 21 cents.
So will banks be unable to make money under these new regulations?
Well, according to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, each debit card transaction costs the banks somewhere between 4 and 12 cents.
So a cap of 21 cents is not going to kill the banks.
However, it is going to hurt the profits that they have been making. The new rules are expected to reduce total bank revenue by a whopping $6.6 billion a year.
So what are the big banks doing about it?
Well, they have decided to recoup that revenue by sticking it to us.
For example, Bank of America recently announced that it is about to start charging a $5 per month debit card fee.
This has sparked a firestorm of criticism.
Even members of Congress are getting involved.
According to ABC News, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate this week holding up a plastic debit card and launched into a tirade about Bank of America….
“Bank of America customers, vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank,” Durbin said on the Senate floor. “Find yourself a bank or credit union that won’t gouge you for $5 a month and still will give you a debit card that you can use every single day. What Bank of America has done is an outrage.”
But that is not the only outrageous fee that you will be hit with at Bank of America.
If you want to get a basic checking account at Bank of America you will be slapped with a $12 monthly fee unless you maintain an average balance of at least $1,500.
Other large banks are instituting debit card fees as well.
Starting in November, SunTrust will be hitting account holders with a $5 per month debit card fee.
Last February, J.P. Morgan began testing a $3 per month debit card fee in Wisconsin.
Wells Fargo has also been testing a $3 per month debit card fee in certain markets.
But it is not just new debit card fees that are getting people upset.
For example, according to CNN large numbers of Citibank account holders will soon be paying a 15 or 20 dollar monthly fee if they do not maintain very high balances in their accounts….
Starting in December, customers who hold its mid-level Citibank Account will be charged $20 a month if they fail to maintain a minimum balance of $15,000 in their combined accounts. Previously, account holders had to carry a minimum balance of $6,000.
At the same time, customers who have the bank’s EZ Checking account will start being charged $15 a month if they don’t carry a minimum balance of $6,000.
They know that the vast majority of American families cannot afford to keep $6,000 sitting around.
It almost seems like the big banks are trying to eliminate as many small accounts as they can.
In the old days, virtually anyone could get a free checking account, but now all that has changed.
Sadly, the era of the free checking account seems to be ending. According to a recent survey by bankrate.com, only 45 percent of all checking accounts in the United States that don’t pay interest are still free. Two years ago that figure was sitting at 76 percent.
All over the nation, monthly fees on checking accounts are absolutely soaring. In 2010, the average monthly fee on non-interest checking accounts was $2.49. Today, the average monthly fee on non-interest checking accounts is $4.37.
It is almost as if the banks don’t even care about our money anymore. They don’t want to give us free checking, they don’t want to send us paper statements, they don’t want us to use tellers and they don’t even want to treat us with common decency.
The truth is that we are the ones that deserve some compensation for all of the lousy service that we have been receiving. For example, the Bank of America online banking system has been down for five days in a row.
The average American family is barely scraping by right now and cannot afford all of these outrageous fees. Right now, economic conditions are rapidly deteriorating and millions more Americans are falling into poverty every year. It is absolutely disgusting that these big banks are trying to drain hundreds of extra dollars a year out of each of us.
Well, perhaps we need to start voting with our feet. We need to tell the banksters that we don’t want their stinking bank fees and that we are switching banks.
There are lots of credit unions and small community banks that would be more than happy to have us as customers. Yes, banking with them might not be quite as “convenient”, but the big banks have pushed us way too far this time.
These new bank fees are beyond outrageous.
We cannot allow them to do this to us.
So do you have a story about how your current bank is abusing you? Are you completely frustrated with the big banks? Please feel free to share your thoughts below….
Has the Federal Reserve become the Central Bank of the World? That is what some members of Congress are asking after the Federal Reserve revealed the details of 21,000 transactions stretching from December 2007 to July 2010 that totaled more than $3 trillion on Wednesday. Most of these transactions involved giant loans that were nearly interest-free from the Federal Reserve to some of the largest banks, financial institutions and corporations all over the world. In fact, it turns out that foreign banks and foreign corporations received a very large share of these bailouts. So has the Federal Reserve now become a completely unaccountable global bailout machine? Sadly, the truth is that we would have never learned the details of these bailouts if Congress had not forced this information out of the Fed. So what other kinds of jaw-dropping details would be revealed by a full audit of the Federal Reserve?
It is important to try to understand exactly what went on here. Banks and corporations from all over the globe were allowed to borrow gigantic piles of money essentially for free. Yes, when you are getting interest rates such as 0.25 percent, the money is essentially free. These loans were not available to everyone. You or I could not have run over to the Federal Reserve and walked away with tens of billions of dollars in loans that were nearly interest-free. Rather, it was only the megabanks and megacorporations that are friendly with the Federal Reserve that were able to take advantage of these bailouts.
In this way, the Federal Reserve is now essentially acting like some kind of financial god. They decide who survives and who fails. Dozens and dozens and dozens of small to mid-size U.S. banks are failing, but the Federal Reserve does not seem to have much compassion for them. It is only when the “too big to fail” establishment banks are in trouble that the Federal Reserve starts handing out gigantic sacks of nearly interest-free cash.
Just think about it. Which financial institution do you think is in a better competitive position – one that must survive on its own, or one that has a “safety net” of nearly unlimited free loans from the Federal Reserve?
Now that is oversimplifying the situation, certainly, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve had fundamentally altered the financial marketplace and is significantly influencing who wins and who loses.
But even more disturbing is what the Federal Reserve is turning into. This is an institution that is “independent” of the U.S. government, that does not answer to the American people, that controls our money supply and that is just tossing tens of billions of dollars to foreign banks and to foreign corporations whenever it wants to.
In fact, if Congress had not forced the Fed to tell us what was going on with these bailouts we would have never even found out.
The truth is that the Fed is taking incredible risks with “our money” and yet they want to continue to exist in a cloak of almost total secrecy.
In a recent article in the Washington Post, Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher acknowledged that the Federal Reserve played fast and loose with trillions of dollars of our money….
“We took an enormous amount of risk with the people’s money.”
Are you deeply disturbed by that quote?
Well, if not, you should be.
The American people became so infuriated about the bailouts and stimulus packages passed by Congress, but it turns out that they were nothing compared to these Federal Reserve bailouts.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the members of Congress that is now expressing extreme outrage about what the Federal Reserve has done….
“The $700 billion Wall Street bailout turned out to be pocket change compared to trillions and trillions of dollars in near zero interest loans and other financial arrangements that the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution.”
In fact, Senator Sanders was so disgusted by how much of the money went overseas that he was led to make the following remark….
“Has the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world? I think that is a question that needs to be examined.”
Advocates for the Federal Reserve insist that if all of these foreign banks and foreign corporations were not bailed out the financial crisis would have been much worse. In fact, they say we should be thankful that the Federal Reserve prevented a total financial collapse.
If our financial institutions are so fragile that a stiff wind will knock half of them over maybe they need to just fail.
You know what, life is tough. Nobody is going to cry most of us a river of tears if we lose our jobs. Most of us have learned to scratch and claw to survive with no safety net underneath us.
So maybe it is time for these big financial institutions to start playing by the same rules the rest of us are playing by.
No, when these “too big to fail” financial institutions get into a little trouble they start whining like a bunch of little babies.
“Give us some big sacks of cash!”
Well guess what? Most of the rest of us are just not going to have too much sympathy for these big banks from now on.
The following is a list of just a few of the banks, financial institutions and global corporations that received nearly interest-free loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis…..
Big U.S. Banks And Financial Institutions
JP Morgan Chase
Bank of America
Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO)
Big Global Corporations
Royal Bank of Canada
European And Asian Banks
Bank of Scotland
The Korean Development Bank (South Korea)
But those defending the Federal Reserve will insist that the financial world as we know it would have ended if the Fed had done nothing.
That may well be true.
The entire financial system might have gone down in flames.
But that just proves the main point that this column has been trying to make for months.
An economic collapse is coming.
The Federal Reserve can desperately try to keep all of the balls in the air for as long as it can, but eventually it is inevitable that this entire thing is going to come crashing down.
The fact that the Federal Reserve had to resort to such extreme measures to “save” the financial system just shows how desperate things really are.
We really have reached a “tipping point” for the world financial system. There is going to be crisis after crisis after crisis and even bigger bailouts are going to be required in the future.
The world financial system is a house of cards built on a foundation of sand. The Federal Reserve can keep throwing around gigantic sacks of “our money” as much as it wants, but in the end there is nothing that can be done to prevent the inevitable collapse that is coming.