My brother was in from Texas, so my sister flew up from SoCal so that the three of us could spend 3 hours at Wells Fargo completing the paperwork to identify us a successor trustees. To get to this stage required 4 previous hours, and a trip to Oakland to obtain a letter from a doctor too busy or indifferent to put it in the mail. The whole effort had almost collapsed anew when Wells legal told my in-branch contact over the phone that because the doctor’s letter did not specify “financial incapacity” (only, “incapacity”…), that it would not suffice. I dropped my only f-bomb, indicated that Wells now was establishing itself as the only party with authority over my father & family’s money, and that my next step was “to escalate.” I generously did not mention the history of dormant accounts.
It took three hours Friday to establish the basis for us to write our signatures four times.
As a child, my parents opened a savings account for me when I was in 2nd grade, at a small local bank called American Savings & Loans. My mom would take me in to deposit my little cash, and I would watch my little account balance grow. It was a powerful lesson.
That bank was acquired by Crocker, which in turn was acquired by Wells, which was my bank as I went off to college. In grad school, something odd happened: a monthly fee appeared on my statements. I called and it was represented as some bullshit “courtesy monitoring service” to which I had agreed. As a beyond-broke grad student, I told them I had never agreed to any such service, and they reversed it. But I was pissed.
Got married within months, and happily consolidated my paltry cash with my wife’s paltry cash in her BofA account: wanted nothing ever again to do with Wells. BofA unsurprisingly turned out to be a predictable piece of shit: we waited very patiently to buy a house and damn near bottom-ticked the cycle Doc top-ticked live on this site from Florida with his freaking open house with cookies (and he did not accept the highest bid, IIRC). Having carried hefty balances, having cycled a ton of salary & bonus earnings for 10 years through our accounts, with sterling credit, and with enough cash to buy our house outright but preferring the flexibility of a conforming loan, BofA refused to originate the loan. It was peak-pain for Cali housing and BofA would not do our business. We found a mortgage broker who would, bought the house with a $417K loan, and immediately closed our BofA accounts in favor a small local bank, which… was of course acquired by a regional bank this past summer, just like my little 2nd grade thrift was.
Fuck the Big Banks. Fuck ‘em to hell. I sort of abandoned this site and financial news engagement after 2009 for a long spell because it was so grotesquely handled. Paulson deftly portrayed the worst-case as the most-likely case to leverage through public backstopping of his buddy’s excesses. Several Big Banks should have been sold off to the smaller, more responsibly run banks for dimes or pennies on the dollar. Carved up and sold out. As creative destruction was intended, Capitalism’s redeeming mechanism. And to instill a generation of terror & fear in finance. Instead within a dozen years, “risk-free” rates were effectively set at zero. Of course they were. And speculative idiocy reigned. Of course it did.
So, here we are anew. Banks in distress, after years of risk-taking and obscene/unearned bonus-paying, all pursued in the moral-hazard shadow of the GFC. “Too Big to Fail” isn’t a defect: it is the crowning feature that assures private losses are absorbed on the public ledger. Of course reckless uninsured depositors at SVB were backstopped. We know where this all leads. We all know that DC will take care of Wall Street.
Plus ça change….