Continued recklessness by national banks, which largely contributed to the recession, has prompted a grassroots effort to move money from large institutions to smaller local banks.
The “Move Your Money” movement hopes to “shift power in the financial system away from Wall Street and to Main Street,” according to Moveyourmoney.info. The movement’s site has a search tool that allows users to easily locate their local community bank.
“The outpouring was tremendous,” financial analyst Dennis Santiago, who set up the site, said in the Christian Science Monitor.
The effort — started in late December and promoted on CNN — comes at a fitting time, as national banks still don’t seem to have learned their lesson despite government bailout attempts.
The U.S. Treasury’s Public-Private Investment Program distributed $418.7 billion of taxpayers’ money to asset managers to buy unsellable toxic mortgage bonds from recession-beset national banks.
Buying these bonds would purge banks’ debts and allow them to lend money.
It would also ease the strain on the economy and prevent the collapse of the national banks, which were thought to be “too big to fail” since the financial security of millions of Americans depended on them.
However, instead of selling assets, many national banks bought securities and increased their debt before the government program was put in effect. Now that the mortgage bonds are increasing in value, banks may profit from them.
“Some of them created this mess, and they are making a killing undoing it,” said investment consultant Michael Schlachter to Bloomberg News.
Banks are taking a big risk. According to The Economist, an increase in asset value could be a result of an unstable financial bubble.
The bonds’ value could easily drop later, leaving banks exposed again. This careless profit-mongering is what caused the financial crisis in the first place.
“It’s still a speculative trade, which is not what a taxpayer should want from firms that have only recently come out of critical care,” regulator consultant Joshua Rosner said to Bloomberg News.
“Move Your Money” offers an alternative to dealing with large banks. Santiago said the movement could make a big impact since the banks’ business model is largely based on the core deposits of consumers and businesses.
Smaller financial institutions are better equipped to have a cooperative approach with customers because they are less riddled by debt, which means they can more freely lend money.
“Community banks are much more likely to reinvest that money in the community and actually help create jobs,” Huffington Post editor Arianna Huffington said on MSNBC.
No matter the impact, “Move Your Money” is a better public response to national bank bailouts than apathy or boisterous tea parties. It is a promising solution for Americans fed up with how their money is handled.
Neil Manimala is a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences.