Sunday, January 31, 2010

Correct Banking

"Correct banking" is not part of the original noble eightfold path of Buddha. Maybe it is an adjunct to right livelihood.

Our choice of a bank affects our community and, considering the reach of our superbanks, our whole world. Our choice of banks is an expression of a value, whether we are conscious of it or not. ("Where would Jesus bank?")

The chairman of Economic Recovery Advisory Board is helping spread the message that "too big to fail" really means too big. One of my legislators here in New Mexico agrees, and sees the value of moving funds to smaller, solid, and local banks that lend locally and have a vested interest in their community. A Congresswoman from Illinois testified publically as to why she moved her money out of Bank of America (which had eaten the bank that ate the bank that ate her bank -- I think I've got that straight).

It's a genuine grassroots opportunity. You find a locally chartered, federally insured bank that is actively involved in the community, helping small businesses and borrowers with affordable loans, and not taking on excessive risk; one, presumably, that is not gouging consumers with exorbitant fees. You can look up banks on and Bauer Financial for ratings on their practices and financial health. Then you can say bye bye to Bank of America.

We can think of this as encouraging the Citibanks and BoAs and Wells Fargos to scale down and divest a bit from the "tapeworm economy."

Turns out First New Mexico Bank, just a few blocks away from our house, has very solid ratings by both services. It's been serving the county for nearly half a century. They worked with my sister-in-law, who just bought a house in town, and she spoke highly of the attention she got from them. They see themselves as investing in an improved community (and sure, making money while doing it -- it is still a business, after all).

And when I presented myself to them last week, they waived their checking account fees.

[Photo: my new bank.]


Kyle Lovett said...

It was sad to see the S&L crisis and downfall of the 1980's. What we ended up with is mega-corporations making life altering decisions about peoples lives they know nothing about. I would hope a return to the smaller banks is in the making.

quid said...

I'm goin' the credit union route, Algie. By by Wachovia-Wells Fargo.


Adam said...

An even better idea is to never, ever put your money in a bank. A bank's purpose is to generate profit from the money you put in there. I for one, do not want other people getting rich from my money, and have a hard time trusting my the fruits of my labors to someone that only cares about how much $$ they can milk me for.

A credit union is the best way to go. They are never "too big to fail", they are non-profit, and I know that here in WA, I can access my account at ANY credit union free of charge (same thing goes for ATMs). Any "profit" the credit union makes goes right back to it's members in the form of low rates and better access. I've also found that the level of customer service is about 10 times better than even at the smaller, local banks.