NY Times: At Tiny Rates, Saving Costs Money
If you haven't figured it out by now, you and I as Designated Savers get to subsidize the spend-happy folks (and the banks who lend to them, and the financial system that craters without them...) pretty much in perpetuity. I rather appreciate this comment from PIMCO's Bill Gross, explaining things oh-so-well:
Mr. Gross said he read his monthly portfolio statement twice because he could not believe that the line “Yield on cash” was 0.01 percent. At that rate, he said, it would take him 6,932 years to double his money.
And don't we savers know it. I mean, Mr. Gross ought to at least get acquainted with ING Direct.
We go on to learn that (SURPRISE SURPRISE) low interest rates are particularly painful for seniors. Why? Because so many of them are on fixed, safe-investment-based incomes:
“These banks don’t want to be held responsible for thousands of seniors standing in bread lines,” she said.
Ms. Lurie needs to wake up and smell the Starbucks Holiday Blend.
Firstly, were I the reporter on this story, I'd have to ask Ms. Lurie, "Exactly who is it that's paying you those on-the-floor savings rates, thereby forcing you to reverse-mortgage your home equity to them, thereby (again) generating some sweet banking monthly fee income?"
(Answer: the banks)
Secondly, I've formed the opinion that if your nearest Really Big Bank and/or Bank Holding Company could find a way to book record profits and earn management bonuses simply by putting seniors in bread lines, they'd do it. And a millisecond later they'd leverage-up their bets at 37-to-1, utilizing some variety of "Seniors in Bread Lines" default-swap derivative.
("Jenkins!" yells the Goldman Sachs guy who's reading this. "We need some financial innovation over here — STAT!")
I dunno. Ms. Lurie seems pretty naive. Perhaps we could arrange for her to make a social call with the Rickmans, late of Denver:
Denver Post: Credit-Card Squeeze Angers Elderly Couple
Our geriatric anti-heros, the Rickmans, are mighty miffed at Bank of America.
Rickman slides his December bill across the table, with instructions to read it. No, not all of that, he spits, a Pall Mall cigarette hanging on one side of his mouth. Look at the interest rate, he says.
Sixteen-point-nine percent, it reads.
"I was paying 5.9 percent, which is what I have paid for years," he says. "I always paid them $500 a month without complaint. Now, they want $1,074 this month. I can't pay it. I won't pay it."
That's his prerogative, certainly. Whilst it is, admittedly, a bit late, I do have a simple yet valuable Life Equation for Mr. Rickman:
It should go without saying that when card companies see their ability to do "Whatever the f__k they want" to their customers being limited at some specific time in the near future, as they do with the CARD Act, then they will all immediately rush to do "Whatever the f__k they can" to their customers immediately, if not sooner.
This idea of banks frontrunning upcoming regulations ain't rocket science. Really. I'd say "It's so simple, even a congressman could figure it out," but a cursory glance at today's headlines would prove it's not quite that simple, apparently.
Ah well. Let's see what this week's news cycle brings...