Apparently the debate is ON, and so far, the bailout is OFF. We would have preferred the other way round. The monkey wrench in the works is being thrown by House Republicans, who are proposing a rival plan that involves MORE deregulation, and a government-run mortgage insurance program rather than outright cash bailouts. It’s hard to figure out what, if anything, they’re thinking, since they’re all up for re-election this year.
In the meantime, Washington Mutual has crashed and been bought out, under governmental auspices, by Morgan Chase. This is too big an item to qualify for the Bennigan’s Index, but we are personally concerned about it because we bank with Morgan Chase. And the last time the government forced our bank (Chicago’s late lamented Talman Savings and Loan) to buy up some questionable assets, that bank crashed shortly afterwards. Talman was ultimately bought out by LaSalle, which has recently been bought out by Bank of America. I miss Talman, which was a good local citizen and sponsored lots of great musical events.
Also, this is affecting my legal practice. In Chicago, a lot of residential land is held in land trusts, usually with some bank as trustee. When such a bank goes under and/or gets bought out, the trust department usually closes down, and the beneficiaries have to go find some other trustee. The number of possibilities diminishes every year.
OTOH, some years ago, I was handling a decedent’s estate. One of my duties was to consolidate all of the estate’s assets into a single bank account. In this instance, I took a bit too long to do it (that’s easy in probate cases, since one assumes that the decedent won’t get any deader), and by the time I did, all of the banks in which the decedent had accounts had already merged, saving me a great deal of walking around.
Are we facing a future in which America will have one bank, with a very long name and a very short lifespan?