Woody Guthrie wrote a song titled "Jolly Banker," a perfect-pitch parody of the propensity of Depression-era bankers to feel good about gouging their small borrowers.
Woody's song could also apply to the gouging we're getting from today's national chain banks, except the song's title should be "Snarling Banker." Only a couple of years ago, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and others were quite jolly, because they were piling up mountains of profits through such sneaky schemes as secretly enrolling customers in checking accounts that charged $35-a-pop for every overdrawn check, then rigging the flow of checks so unwitting customers would be overdrawn.
Public outrage exploded, especially because only a year earlier, We the People had bailed out these same banks. Thus, Congress shut down some of the worst gouges. This pinched bankers' exorbitant profits a bit, and they've been snarling ever since. "Banks aren't charities," they barked – apparently thinking that someone might've mistaken them as such.
One thing you can count on is that banker greed is bottomless, and it's now coming back with a vengeance. Of course, they could make money honestly (as community banks and credit unions do) by making good loans and delivering good service, but instead they're returning to what they call "creative banking." You would call it "fee gouging."
Wells Fargo now hits you for $15 a month just to have a checking account, unless you keep at least $7,500 in your account. Citibank charges $20 a month, unless you keep $15,000 on deposit – more than double last year's level. Bank fees for money orders have doubled, and fees for cashiers checks have quadrupled.
There is a way out of this endless abuse-the-customer game: move your money out of their vaults! For help, go to www.MoveYourMoneyProject.org.
© 2012 Jim Hightower