Gosh, we've been giving Ben so much grief that we've seem to have forgotten the real culprits. Jamie brings this back to focus.
So, let me tell a tale, somewhat disjointedly. We'll pull things together, in time.
There is a local bank with whom I've dealt for over 10 years, that is until a few years ago. It was a nice little bank, locally owned and all. Then, about 2004, they got new management and started on the merger and acquisition trail.
Now, remember that 'M&A' still is being pursued but recall, too, that these types of deals diminished when the 'boys' took their balls home (as in, they all knew that the games were crooked; who could they trust (they knew that if everyone was like themselves, then the answer would have been nobody (lemons, essentially) at all) to deal with?). Well, the main guy loomed large with his photo in the paper. They're grabbing more banks and approaching an entity that has over $1B in assets (yes, billion).
My reactions were severalfold. For one, this same guy was arguing that they would become a State bank in order to get out from under certain types of scrutiny. Oh yes, be part of the little guys. Too, they hired someone from OCC to be part of their staff.
Aside: I found out that this bank had their proverbial thumb on the scale in calculating returns. I was only a depositor at the bank. Didn't even have a checking account. Okay, I was making money using their bank, yet they are the ones who advertised the deal. Anyway, for a few months, I watched as divergence built in accumulative returns, compared to several other banks with whom I dealt. Note, please, that as a retiree, I was being cautious in scrutinizing returns in order to firm up projections. Lo and behold, these guys were playing unfairly. I called them on it. They threw me and my money out. Without any forewarning. I received an envelope with checks written on all accounts closing them out. Hey, debtors get better (have more rights) than that! I made the rounds of the institutions that are supposedly supportive of the consumer (before the new deal, okay). The state org, FDIC, and OCC. Now, OCC got from them some diatribe about me as a harasser. What? I banked with them for 10 years prior to their reaction to scrutiny of a customer. But, management had changed. So, the whole atmosphere was different. Then, OCC says (essentially, acknowledging the validity of my evidence), sue them. What (again)? Me, a small investor take on someone who has (at the time) multi-hundreds of millions in assets? So, I let it drop and have been quietly watching.
Oh yes, it was gleeful to see them line up to the TARP trough.
Then, I noticed this year the thing about being a State bank in order to have less scrutiny. Also, I hear that they want to merge with a bank in another state? That is, is not that interstate banking and beyond one state's purview?
Oh well, I read the boss' explanation. Oh yes, he says, merging has benefit from his level. What about his lowly depositor? You see, all sorts of 'M&A' has been going on because the best and brightest know that they can do it and can pull the wool over the eyes of the Feds (yes, Ben, you) and others. Yet, what benefit is there to the depositor?
Remember what happened to this depositor?
There are many questions of this sort. From where I sit, these guys are using banking as a playground to tweak their ego. I liked the bank better when they were almost a county bank with a few ATMs and little branches.
Now, the guy is trying to be Jamie II. What gives with this? I'm serious, folks, in my questioning.
Is not banking a mere utility mostly, to help us handle our beans and need for beans? Of course, 'our' can be at several levels, yet even commercial banking does not require the 'M&A' mania.
Enough for now.
01/14/2013 -- Will Jamie be taking a pay cut? He was the highest paid last time around. He also was the one saying that they could "police" themselves, that was no need for oversight. He got one thing right in a recent interview. He said that with the "whale" problem, people were running around like children. Their concern was not fixing some problem. No, the worry as about the problem's impact on their career. Ah, career. We'll have to go into that. Most people are not effective a most things. Unfortunately, those who are effective carry these folks along. Always has been like that. Jamie needs to consider that he is not, as he may think in him mind, of the effective set.
12/13/2012 -- Don't know how long this page will be there, Daily Ticker. But, when I looked, 69% had said 'no' (hurt rather than helped) as to whether Ben has helped.