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[Cross-posted at The Left Coaster.]

The paradox of thrift was ruthlessly enforced by Jane Bryant Quinn last night on the Lehrer News Hour, guiding consumers to budget, save, diminish expectations and be thrifty, simultaneously gutting the most potent spending element in the US economy.  It’s very old news to this household with no credit card debt, no car payments, no movies or restaurants, no American alive has more faith than fear in the future right now and my little house will be in this thrifty groove for a long, long time.

It almost defies belief, but my lifetime bank, Bank of America--started so long ago by a Norcal Italian immigrant fanatically dedicated to serving little people--is busted.  The stock market wants answers, now, and not providing the plain truth is very much an answer in itself, which the stock price reflects starkly.  B of A is busted, desperately pushing every DC lobbyist button it can from being taken over to keep all the bazillionaire big shots running and investing in the bank from becoming even smaller people than I am (the horrors, the horrors).

The bank is not in imminent danger of being a USS Oklahoma capsized wreck anytime soon, alleged federal regulators calmly say, depositors haven’t shown any lack of confidence in B of A so far.  Meaning fear hasn’t voraciously spread to little people depositors about the safety of their cash, forcing them to withdraw all their money before it’s too late.  Lying and cooked books will keep a bank around for a long time, but a depositor run will smash it down in a week, the feds won’t "favor" taking over B of A but they’ll be irrevocably forced to if a run starts.  Oh capitalism, we done you so wrong.

Our insipid watchdogs over the reeking wreck of our banking and finance system better snap out of their sickening complacency fast.  There’s nothing to stop me from shutting down all my B of A accounts now, today, to some small regional bank or credit union, start writing and mailing checks for bills again, reflection on the twofer my little house pulled off in bringing us all down to follow.

Fear has nothing to do with it.  The run—if it comes—will be driven by fear in almost all other cases, but in my scenario a simple fact exists I hope our dear bankers and alleged federal regulators learn and know with a nuclear clarity:  I’ve totally, completely had it with liars and cheaters in this enraging game of banking funny money, I should crisp my B of A accounts on the simple principle I don’t enable crooks and liars.

Shockingly, I don’t want to pay a hefty federal tax bill this year.  My love of country is deep and fierce, my past pride in one of the best governments on earth always bestowing a happy acceptance to writing the check, but after trillions have been squirrelly pledged to banks on the sly, hundreds of billions given away only to be passed on to well-off investors—along with skyrocketing borrowing, tax cuts (!) and two wars--well, maybe it’s time for this relationship to end.  You know?  Tough times are one thing, stealing and lying for crooks in fantasy land quite another.

Faith, confidence and trust, the ancient public school monetary lessons taught us, such is the trifecta of human consciousness that keeps the mighty invincible heart of US capitalism beating so vibrantly.  No wonder the place has gone to hell.

No, my little house won’t pull off its own hat trick of economic darts to stiff the Feds in April, respect for the law and public good still mean something this household, even if our banking and regulatory officials are too dense, obtuse and greedy to live it like Americans themselves.  In purely good faith and reason other good, decent American families will not be so patient, rightly so, and if the Feds think they’ve got diminished tax revenue issues now just wait until they experience getting stiffed in various ways by citizens who simply will not put up with it anymore, faith and trust cannot be abused forever.  My patience in this matter is not infinite either, not by a long shot.

I’ve got a message for our banking industry and DC monetary officials, and I fervently hope with all my soul it gets through:  you’re playing with fire.  It’s smoldering fiercely everywhere, and if a bank run starts on B of A everyone will finally have to acknowledge golly gee, the place really is going up in flames.  Level with the American people with crystal clarity honesty what happened, what banks are busted, and what has to be done.  Not what the freak you’d favor to do, but action firmly grounded in fair reality.

Americans don’t want our system to go down, but they’ll torch it if they don’t hear the truth, faith and trust can’t live without it.  There is no more time or options, get real or take the country down even farther.

Originally posted to paradox on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:26 AM PST.


My faith and trust in the US banking/regulatory system is: [ 0 is the least, 10 the most ]

55%63 votes
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3%4 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
1%2 votes
0%1 votes
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| 114 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  The paradox of thrift is a puzzler. (8+ / 0-)

    Troubling that what seems good for us individually (be thrifty) may harm us collectively. However, when engaged in gluttony, stepping back from the feed trough is advised. Deep structural changes are needed in our economy, and I don't see have we get to these changes without wrenching pain.

    I think I need to buy a shirt that is produced and gets to me in a manner that doesn't burden the planet any more than the absolute minimum. Perhaps my neighbor could make shirts. I suspect buying my shirt from someone half-way around the planet is not a great idea.

    How do I get my neighbor to go into the shirt business?

  •  I get the impression that we're in the eye... (7+ / 0-)

    of the hurricaine and the worst is yet to come.

    I think Bill Clinton is right on this one.  Obama sufficiently scared everyone, now he needs to bring out his message of hope again.  

    Member of the "Fellows of the Ass Society." Dedicated to reminding people that most knowledge still comes from books. Not Wikipedia.

    by David Kroning on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:38:45 AM PST

  •  [sigh] (5+ / 0-)

    Reading it again I feel too tough on our people in DC.

    They've been handed an impossible tactical situation.

    Far worse, the belief and tenets of American capitalism have to be thrown out the window.  I wonder if any human would be up to the task of starkly explaining that to the American people.  No wonder they put that off as long as they can.

    [shakes head] Tough times, very tough policy evolutions.

  •  Re [Sigh] : No, Not Too Tough (4+ / 0-)

    As individuals, we are as thrify or profligate as we are inclined to be. I'm the ant type, but I sure woulda liked a few vacations. This government is back to its natural state of doing what it can and that is a prodigious amount of good.

    Under previous administrations, it was kept inactive when it might just as well have taken steps to prevent the AIDS epidemic, widespread chronic homelessness, and the collapse of public education. It was intentionally and perversely restrained from taking action to the detriment of millions. As we know, the only real crime in this country is the crime of being poor.

    The Fed. govt. can't solve every problem let alone solve them all quickly, but it's the only thing you can count on when times are tough. I have recently come to understand what the Wall Street financiers knew all along. The amount of wealth in this country far exceeds any puny amounts of money raised in taxes or by governement borrowing. What we spend now to rebuild our infrastructure and schools will pay us back dozens of times over.

    As Douglas Adams advised, Don't Panic! It's all right there in the Guide to the Universe. So far, the dolphins haven't left and the show goes on.  

  •  I saw a BA run yesterday (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, MsGrin

    The bank is not in imminent danger of being a USS Oklahoma capsized wreck anytime soon, alleged federal regulators calmly say, depositors haven’t shown any lack of confidence in B of A so far.

    Bullshit. It happened yesterday as a flood of 100 share, 200 share, 1000 share accounts sold off.

    When you see a million shares traded at between every five and fifty five seconds for six hours, that's a run.

    Millions of fed dollars were pumped into BA to stop this run. The green plusses (buys) were like pickets in a fence of red dashes (sells), going across my trading platform.

    For awhile the pps was level at minus 18 %. Then it was level at minus 25 %.
    But it was contained. and the fed controlled the freefall.

    Anyone who follows the action regognizes this degree of MM control.

    It was a panic.

    The due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government -George Washington

    by bob zimway on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:58:07 AM PST

    •  That temporary dip was due to market rumours. (0+ / 0-)

      It wasn't "contained," it's that the rumour was revealed as bullshit.

      We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

      by burrow owl on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:01:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sorry (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, MsGrin

        it wasn't a temporary dip. anyway the market runs by rumor.

        It was contained.

        The due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government -George Washington

        by bob zimway on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:03:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What did you mean when you said the fed started (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          pumping millions into BoA when the rumors started pushing the stock down?  What did the feds do?

          We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

          by burrow owl on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:10:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Fed bought BA stock (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Larsstephens, MsGrin

            matching sells with buys. At one point the sells came in such a torrent that the buys couldn't stabilize the fall until about 10 more points down.

            There wouldn't any private entity(s) rich enough and motivated enough to keep the action level for six hours.

            This was happening as Senator Dodd was saying that the Fed might have to nationalize "temporarily". What he didn't say was that it was happening as he spoke.

            The due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government -George Washington

            by bob zimway on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:59:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'm betting that the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    FDIC is really busy this weekend.

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