Friday, January 31, 2014

1286 Banking Ammunition

Let’s talk about the poor maligned bankers, those bedraggled hangdog souls whose only goal is to help you grow your money and keep what you have safe.


You say we stopped throwing bricks at their windows as soon as the recession ended?  Two errors here.  If the recession ended for you, you’re probably living in a world of denial. That’s okay, but they have medication for that.


The second error: while Americans have lightened up a bit on our banks, the Wall St. Journal is reporting that Europe has done no such thing.


Just ask Sergio Ermatti, who heads UBS, the Swiss bank.  He’s tired, he says, of the preachy ethics lessons outside agitators are firing at him from close range.


Never mind trading scandals, non-performing assets, and a scared and worldwide customer base.


Not to single out Ermatti. He’s probably a gentleman.  Many Swiss bankers are very polite.


American bankers, too.


But we need that ammunition and we should be using it more liberally here, too.


Why?  The banks are just doing their job… you know, like a carpenter or a plumber or the cop who stopped you for going 36 in a 35 zone the other day.


Okay, what’s their job, anyway?  Most of us peasants think of keeping our insured savings.  A place to get a check cashed.  Buy a mortgage. Host a safe deposit box.


But that’s not the half of it.  The job of a bank is to store money and move it around a lot so like static electricity, it attracts still more money, kind of like a Swiffer picks up dust.


Even that would be okay if there weren’t so many others playing that shell game.


Banks are the part of circulation system of the financial world. They and the hedge funds and others are in charge of a game of musical chairs where the music never stops. If it did, the whole circulatory system would collapse.


Contrast that with the other big villains of finance:  Heavy industry, mega-farming. Oil, gas, automobiles, airplane makers bread factories.


They make and/or sell actual THINGS.  There’s something of actual value to people.  All the financial industries we’re talking about here are doing is sending electrons around the world… electrons that often aren’t backed by… well … anything.


You’re worried about inequitable distribution of wealth?  You should be. The middle class is near death.  The reasons are complicated. Start thinking about how the most productive workforce in the world -- ours -- is afflicted by shrinking wages and increased responsibilities.


So keep the ammo flying.  Your bank needs to know that you’re on to its game.  


Shrapnel:
--Bieber is in trouble with the law again, this time in his native Canada where police say he beat up a limo driver.  This only days after he was arrested in Florida for drag racing after which he admitted drinking -- at age 19 by the way -- smoking pot and taking prescription drugs.  And yet the fans surround him still… and think of him as a combination of Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles and Miley Cyrus.


Grapeshot:


-Did you watch the State of the Union address or, like the rest of the country were tuned in either to “The Biggest Loser” on NBC or the “NCIS” rerun on CBS like most of the rest of us?


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

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