July 10, 2009



Bankers behaving badly
by Jim Hightower

What is it that makes bankers behave badly? Is it genetics? Or is it just that no one ever taught them the golden rule?

You'd think that, these days, top Wall Street bankers would want to make nice with us. After all, their greed-fueled financial gimmickry wrecked our economy. Then, despite that bad behavior, we commoners have put up $12 trillion in public funds to save their sorry hides.

But is there gratitude? Noooo. Instead, top banking executives make whiney comments about the public "intruding" into their private business. Worse, many of the giants we rescued are now turning on us. For example, rather than rushing out loans to save or create jobs Wells Fargo has become an aggressive job buster. In January, this huge bank, which had just received $25-billion from taxpayers, cut off credit to Hartmarx, our country's largest maker of men's clothing. Hartmarx was a successful enterprise, but with no financing, it was forced to shut down, and 3,500 highly skilled employees were thrown out of work.

JPMorgan Chase, on the other hand, is putting some of the $25 billion it got from us toward a new job-creation program. But the jobs are in India. Not Indiana, where unemployment is rampant, but faraway India, where Morgan says it can hire thousands of information technology workers for a third of what it would pay Americans. A Morgan spokesperson proudly announced that our bailout gave the bank the resources it needed to increase its outsourcing to India by 25 percent.

If this bad banker behavior doesn't move you, check your bank and credit card statements. Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and other bailed out giants are suddenly assaulting us with a rash of sneaky and stout fee hikes. Apparently, this is the bankers' way of saying, "Thanks for the bailout, suckers."

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