The bankers are laughing at the Occupy protesters.
“Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager.
“It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”
They wish. In fact, it's this inability to accept reality that led to their pigheaded efforts to charge people for using their ATM cards. The reality:
More consumers flocked to credit unions last month than in all of 2010 combined, likely in part due to the controversy surrounding debit card fees.
At least 650,000 customers opened new accounts at credit unions since September 29, the day Bank of America announced it would charge customers a $5 per month fee to use their debit card for purchases starting in 2012, the Credit Union National Association estimates. If that number holds true, it would be more than the 600,000 consumers that joined credit unions in all of 2010.
That's just October and doesn't account for this weekend's Bank Transfer Day. So what does that mean for Wall Street?
CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said the growth from Bank Transfer Day and the events leading up to it could cause the credit union system to now have more than $1 trillion in total assets.
The industry had $942.5 billion in assets as of June 30, according to the NCUA.
Got that? That's $60 billion out of Wall Street and into non-profit credit unions. That doesn't include non-profit community banks, either. Not bad for a movement "with no message", is it?
And it's not ending here. "Bank Transfer Day" is now "Bank Transfer Mondays", because it's always a good time to transfer. I've got my brand spanking new account at a non-profit bank, and am just waiting for our ATM cards before fully closing down my BoA accounts. Feels awesome.
There are also talk of a "Balance Transfer Day", urging people to move their money from too-big-to-fail banks to credit cards issued by non-profit financial institutions.
And if you are investor type, there's this:
John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group and the first index mutual fund, doesn’t necessarily support the protesters. He does, however, think their anger toward Wall Street is justified and that indexing could be an effective means of boycotting the Street’s most speculative firms. “Indexing fulfills the Adam Smith-ian argument that if you do best for yourself, you will serve society well,” Bogle says. “The implication of that is if many more people indexed, there’d be much less trading in the market, and that’s good because it's costly. There’d also be much less big payoffs to investment managers, and that’s good for the returns earned by investors and good for our society, too.” [...]
While saving a $105 a year in management fees and a few dollars more in trading commissions may not seem like a lot, collectively the costs are huge. According to "The Cost of Active Investing," a 2008 study by Dartmouth economic professor Kenneth French, the annual all-in management and trading costs for actively managed mutual funds, hedge funds, and other institutional investors rose from $7 billion in 1980 to $101.8 billion in 2006. If every portfolio were indexed instead, French estimates that the total annual cost would be $8.9 billion.
Moving your money into index funds—which typically outperform managed trading—could take out billions more from Wall Street, and would no longer subsidize the kind of risky trading behavior that got us into this mess anyway.
Move to a non-profit community bank or credit union. Move your credit card balances to cards issued by same institutions. Move to indexed funds or manage your own portfolio.
Enough people do those three things, and you won't see Wall Street laughing anymore.