“How to Destroy a Bank”

Your humble blogger is quoted at some length in this Playboy article (yes, article, remember the classic male wink and nod about buying Playboy for its articles) along with Bill Black. This piece was heralded in the New York Times. An excerpt:

On the night of March 10, 2010 an other­wise anonymous American financial writer working under the name of Eddie “Edmundo” Braverman sat at his computer and took a sip of rum. He was about to take the biggest risk of his life.

On his screen was an article he had written for WallStreetOasis.com, an investment­-banking website. This article set forth a plan for how consumers could destroy one of America’s four largest banks. Customers would deliver a series of escalating threats against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citibank, demanding policy changes. The threats would culminate in a series of flash-mob bank runs that targeted one of the banks.

Eddie was hardly alone in believing today’s finance industry rested on accounting fraud and government complacency. While perhaps naive in its assumptions and overreaching in its goals, Eddie’s plan held promise: ordinary people taking control of an industry that was out of control. If Eddie’s plan was followed and his identity revealed, he could be held legally accountable for unleashing the destructive power of the mob. He took another sip and reviewed his plan one more time.

Here’s how Eddie would destroy your bank. And how you can help him do it.

The article continues here.

Reader query: what do you make of the Braverman plan? Do you think it would succeed in a narrow sense, as in could he get the needed following and support? And if it did, what impact do you think it would have?

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  1. john bougearel

    Yes, with a wink and nod, I can say I definitely read NakedCapitalism for its articles!

    As for my Playboy subscription, well sadly I never had one.

    I do vaguely remember there was a nice Vanna White spread. But, can’t say I remember any of the articles from that issue…

    shame, shame, shame….

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Did you read the piece? The public is very angry with banks, and if the mortgage mess grinds on, it makes for fertile ground for the public to take action, particularly of a sort that is perfectly legal and hence won’t get them arrested.

      Your comment reads as if you are dismissing the idea because you think little of the venue. The NYT actually bothered to take note of the article, which says they think the premise merits comment. Your comment is the equivalent of ad hominem, you haven’t given any reasoning. The French and Greeks do general strikes, and they do disrupt the economy and lead to political concessions (and perhaps more important, the government being forced to recognize that the masses can be mobilized and hence are a political force to be reckoned with). You can argue that those efforts don’t yield much in the way of gains, but that’s a debate about ultimate efficacy, not about immediate impact.

      I could see Braverman and his followers being shut down (denial of service attacks, lame excuses to arrest them and seize their computers) as probable impediments to the concept getting traction.

        1. Patricia

          WordPress’ quick submissiveness to the powers-that-be towards Henwood’s DMCA post show the extent of:
          1. financial/gov’t reach
          2. the cowardice of many businesses towards power
          3. finance/gov’t’s fears regarding plain information “getting out”.

          Reading Black’s response to tank-a-bank is the most chilling because he knows the extent to which corruption has infiltrated our systems. He says both that it is important that we come up with public action and that they won’t do what we want them to do. Yet, they can create conditions for change, if done properly.

          We can/must expect nasty aggressive responses, if we are believe Yves and other bloggers. Responses will be fascistic, but we must plow through. There are no other ways, at this late date, to create the conditions for necessary change.

          Let’s have intelligent, persistent, essentially legal, creative push-back on as many levels and from as many people as possible. En masse, we have authority. Alone we will be railroaded out of house/job/security and into jail.

      1. Nathanael

        Braverman’s plan would work, but I give him zero chance of getting it organized; you need a certain set of contacts who are *very good* at getting attention to get that kind of organization done, and he doesn’t have ’em. Plan is also too complicated in a certain sense; in order to get enough people in on the action, it has to be reduced to a one-sentence selling point at any given step (which is what the aforementioned contacts are necessary for, getting the attention out at each separate step individually).

        *Somebody’s* plan, however, is going to work. It’s inevitable. If I were to bet on one, I would bet that the anti-foreclosure movement has the resources to turn into something really powerful.

        1. toxymoron

          One-sentence plan: “show me the note”. Immediate effect guaranteed. No bank runs nor flash mobs needed.

      2. karen1p

        You are right. I think a bank run would be wonderful. We are angry, and angry enough that if the administration tries to sweep this under the rug, we will act and we will be swift.

        The above poster is totally wrong. We are organized and we proved it with the HR3808. We proved we could shut down a bill within two days of email alerts. The administration now understands that the threats of pitchforks are NOT just threats, but they are real.

      3. Paul Tioxon

        Yes Yves, an organized bank panic, mass movement to withdraw funds from one bank would be the 21st Century boycott where you hit them in the demand deposits where it really hurts.

        You don’t have to be a Saul Alinsky community organizer type of guy to know the history of this kind of collective action.
        At some point, direct action, a simple consumer choice of voting with yr feet to get on over to the bank and serve notice that yr not doing business with anymore is perfect. People will walk away from the abusive relationship, they will be up off the mental couch of apathy and doing something. And it will be purposeful.

        The Move Your Money Project:




      4. Progressive Ed

        Check out playboy.com Great features and it’s free (for the most part). And no “articles” to get in the way.

  2. EmilianoZ

    It would have to be promulgated by a charismatic figure like Jon Stewart and preferably in the form of a joke. Otherwise apathy will prevail.

    I have seen a few people propose something similar in the comment section of several blogs. I had thought about that myself. I can’t lead by example since I’m already banking with a credit union.

    In the age of free internet porn Playboy still exists. How quaint.

  3. johnnyutah

    I saw a facebook page this evening with a bank run idea set for 12/07. Sorry I don’t have a link. I like the idea, it’s frustrating to not have any recourse against getting screwed.

  4. Paul Repstock

    This is Far from a “Silly idea”!
    (For a change I read the whole article before posting..:D)
    Yves; It is funny but you just mentioned an important component needed for this to work. “Denial of service attack”.. By that I mean not an internet blitz, but rather, a campaign to have people quit using the targeted bank. That sort of campaign could hardly be bandaided by the Fed, and it would have immediate bottom line effects. Also, the impied if not actual ‘Run on the Bank’ would without doubt influence those commercial accounts you alluded to.

    Banks need customers, new depositors and borrowers, as well as locked in borrowers. If said bank suddenly lost a proportion of exsting business and got no new business to replace it, there would be little reason to keep the doors open. Being a ‘bagman’ for the fed and the treasury is not their main purpose. That business is too quantifiable, and the earnings are all subject to scruitiny.

    1. Paul Repstock

      And this idea ‘could get traction’. There is little to no difference between banks. They have homoginized themselves with uniformly bad service and high fees. So what would I care about which bank I used?

      Also, there are no consequences to the participants. There is still an apparent freedom to chose which bank sucks your money.

  5. tawal

    Interesting article. Like the insider hiding in the Tokyo dive. What are these people cia? Never happen my ass. As Prof. Black says it already did, with the sharks eating their own. Most commercial banks have enough on reserve with the FED to last 6 to 12 months, for their payroll. GS can’t take WF, BAC, JPM, and C all down; or maybe they can with Uncle Warren’s side-letters, (just slightly better than Milken’s pledge of warrants). Love your diversity, Yves. Trust we’ll get a whole new look of click-off ads.

    On the other hand, I’m with Prof. Black: Bank of America is toast; Bank of America is toast; Bank of America is toast! Say it LOUD, I’m with Black and I’m proud: Bank of America is Bankrupt; it’s liabilities exceed it’s assets; it’s cash flow is negative; it has no hope of meeting it’s short or long term obligations.

    PS When’s GS’ CRA exam, again?

    1. Chris

      I hope BofA is toast! Couldn’t happen to a more worthy bank! It’s just too bad the overpaid pricks who run that place could disappear too!

  6. Daniel de Paris

    Don’t you need savings FIRST before RUNning to the bank.

    I understand that the typical US household is not a net saver. Full Stop.

    At any time this kind of event could occur in China or Germany. Certainly not in the US. Who would handle their dozens of CCards?

  7. Diogenes

    From the Playboy article:

    Black agreed, to a point. “To be a threat, it would have to trigger a run from commercial accounts, $250,000 and above. Which it well could. The Fed would see that as the greatest threat imaginable.

    Perhaps it is a coincidence, but it is worth noting that recent changes to the FDIC’s insurance policy mean there is no longer any economic risk to non-interest bearing accounts held by very large depositors:

    Beginning December 31, 2010 through December 31, 2012, deposits held in noninterest-bearing transaction accounts will be fully insured, regardless of the amount in the account, at all FDIC-insured institutions.

    Source: http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/insured/index.html

    1. erispope

      Note: it says “starting December 31, 2010.” As far as I know (and speaking from the socialist Sweden) that date has yet to pass… which means that until that time, they’re (theoretically) vulnerable.

      Of course, in order to truly get the train moving, one should combine the effort of getting the public to withdraw savings accounts with a massive shorting of the bank stock (or CDS purchases) by totally unrelated persons (preferably ones located outside the US, and definitely no one who ever did normal account transactions with the bank).

      That would most likely blow up the bank; but it would also most likely trigger the vague, handwavy statements involving the words “stability”, “peace in our time” and “help us get jobs in the ‘private’ sector” that allow the FED, Treasury, FDIC and other financial actors to do whatever they want to do when their buddies are on the line.

  8. Koshem Bos

    I have no ability to assess the feasibility of such attack on a bank, but can see the idea behind it. The American people are cowed and enslaved to contemplate such action. After all, we live in a country that submits to the health insurance companies, see unions as the enemies of the people and agree to punishing wars that cause our kids to die in the thousands.

    In addition, we are unfortunate to have a president who values banks over the unemployed. Even if enough people end up attacking a bank, Obama will rescue the bank with enthusiastic support of Republicans.

  9. Matt

    In the US there is no cash in the banks to line up and wait for. There were numerous posts in other blogs about the very small amount of cash held in any bank branch. People had trouble pulling 5 to 15 thousand dollars in cash out. Some commentors had been concerned about a possible bank holiday and were testing the bank. Nothing like an FDIC takeover to get photo ops ala IndiMac, but what are you going to stand in line for when there is NO cash to be had?

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Once, to buy a car for cash, we had to go to three different branches of Compass Bank just to get $12,000 cash. And then we got written notices about reports sent to the IRS and the feds (and maybe the DEA)—kinda creepy police state stuff.

  10. albrt

    I would not only participate in this, I would actively recruit all my friends, and I would open accounts at the banks where I do not already have accounts just so I could participate.

    But it can’t work for the reasons already stated. The TeeBee is too distracting, the masses have no savings to withdraw, and for the most part only the curb-stomping republican brownshirts have any semblance of a backbone.

    We are done. The only open question is whether the next global superpower will be China or a nation of post-collapse insectoids a million years in the future.

  11. john c. halasz

    The former Soviet Bloc collapsed simply because of an utter withdrawal of mass legitimation, without which any organized center of power proved hollow and toothless. I’m just sayin’…

  12. jay hank

    Oh, come on, this is just the plot of the movie Fight Club, and we already have a finance blog dedicated to romanticizing that film.

    I’m angry, and part of what I’m angry about is people obliterating reason in favor of mindless plots like this. I’m angry that people are mindlessly advocating wholesale economic loss to punish … institutions. Oh by the way, this plan pointlessly punishes institutions, it doesn’t punish any individuals. Not a single bank executive would go to trial if a bank was destroyed this way; on the contrary they’d get quite a bit of public sympathy.

    We may as well just light random offices on fire to punish the buildings. Strip the pavement away to punish the roads. The idea that you wreck a bank this way and Washington is going to respond with better reforms? Um, get a clue. The public will *agree* that banks should be protected from attacks like that. All you’ll have done is wreck a bank and increase public support for banks. It would be mindless, purposeless, wholesale, economic loss that would achieve the exact OPPOSITE of its stated ends.

    1. attempter

      Man, the pro-bank trolls are getting more ridiculous all the time. I don’t normally respond to them, but this one is so completely wrong in so many ways, I felt compelled.

      I’m angry, and part of what I’m angry about is people obliterating reason in favor of mindless plots like this.

      Do you have a poster of James Inhofe on your wall, that you’re parroting him like this? “The only thing I’m outraged about is the outrage” over Abu Ghraib. And damn it, I’m angry that people are so angry at the banks!

      We banksters and flunkies are mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take it anymore!

      I’m angry that people are mindlessly advocating wholesale economic loss to punish … institutions. Oh by the way, this plan pointlessly punishes institutions, it doesn’t punish any individuals.

      1. We have already sustained wholesale economic loss. It was directly, intentionally inflicted upon us by the banks. They destroyed American jobs, robbed us of trillions and destroyed the real economy in the process. (And they never served any constructive purpose in the first place.)

      If the people did rouse themselves to counterattack a bank, that would be nothing but self-defense and justice. Any “economic loss” from it which wasn’t to the banksters themselves would remain the responsibility of the banksters. The same is true of any and all reverberations of their treasonous assault on America.

      2. So yes, Virginia, those are criminal institutions. The personnel are incidental and completely fungible. There’s not one single bankster you could remove who wouldn’t immediately be replaced by the exact same. That’s true on both the practical and moral level.

      But by now we all know that, so anyone like this commenter who still says the banks are fine, that it’s just a few “bad apples”, is really supporting systemic and systematic institutional crime.

      The big banks are worthless and destructive. They are purely parasitic, predatory, and vandalistic. They have no other qualities. Zero. That sums them completely – as institutions.

      Not a single bank executive would go to trial if a bank was destroyed this way; on the contrary they’d get quite a bit of public sympathy.

      It’s clear that’s what you hope happens. But I’d love to test that little theory. Of course, we could never get people to do something like this other than out of a groundswell of hatred for the banks. So your contention seems self-contradictory – “if the people ever roused themselves to counterattack a big bank, it would make them support the bank more.”

      We may as well just light random offices on fire to punish the buildings. Strip the pavement away to punish the roads. The idea that you wreck a bank this way and Washington is going to respond with better reforms? Um, get a clue. The public will *agree* that banks should be protected from attacks like that. All you’ll have done is wreck a bank and increase public support for banks.

      Hysterical sputtering. So attacking the stronghold of a gang of bandits is the same as burning down the barber shop? Got it.

      No reasonable person thinks something like this would bring “better reforms”. The idea is to attack the zombie banks, make even their zombified functioning untenable, so that the system ends up with no choice but to let them go bankrupt, as should have been done in 2008. The goal is always to redo 2008 but without the Bailout this time. That has to be the goal with the mortgage crisis.

      The idea is also for some people to set a moral example by doing something, by demonstrating that something can be done. Even if this particular thing was done and didn’t work, it would still have that exemplary value in the eyes of anyone who’s still capable of political self-respect, the assertion of positive freedom, and human dignity. All such people would become more inspired toward action with every action they saw.

      Just like with everything else, so here too it’s the doing which is most important – practice, practice, practice.

      It would be mindless, purposeless, wholesale, economic loss that would achieve the exact OPPOSITE of its stated ends.

      I don’t know if this particular plan would achieve its goals or not. But as has been proven at extraordinary length and in extraordinary detail at Naked Capitalism and other blogs,

      1. ALL “economic loss” is 100% the direct result of the big banks’ intentional, systematic, malevolent, criminal actions;

      2. Any counterattack on them would therefore be part of the most wise and purposeful course of action which could be undertaken.

      We know that maintaining the big banks in existence means nothing but economic devastation for America. We know that sitting around, doing nothing, waiting for “reformers” to save us means nothing but leaving the banksters in place to continue committing their crimes. We know that something needs to be done. So anything is worth trying.

      1. Jay Hank

        Nice try, but your bogus premise that I’m an apologist for the banks is where your argument falls apart. I’m angry that people aren’t trying to think it through and solve the problems — this is no different than someone who’s frustrated that any extreme political movement (the tea party, say) is pulling the discussion in a useless direction.

        “So anything is worth trying.” “we have already suffered wholesale economic loss” so adding more is justified.

        Yeah, see, that’s the opposite of thinking. Just throwing random stuff at the wall and hoping it sticks because we’re too emotional to think about it anymore. Yeargh! This is where we disagree, because I guess it’s fair that I’m not as angry as you are. Your emotional catharsis is not a valid basis for good public policy. And it’s obvious to me that the economy can, in fact, be much worse.

        “if the people ever roused themselves to counterattack a big bank, it would make them support the bank more.”

        It comes down to just one point: your plan will shove the population at large into the arms of the banks. There’s no contradiction at all, but I guess I need to slow down when talking to people this angry. If [a relatively small group of angry internet people] roused themselves to [reenact Fight Club at] a big bank, it would [make nearly everyone else] support the bank more.

        1. attempter

          It’s not “my plan”. Read my other comment. But I say godspeed to anyone who’s willing to do something.

          I notice you didn’t respond to the main point of my comment, which refuted your main “point”, that the banks themselves are innocent, and that all the crimes (or, sorry, you probably think they’re mostly “honest mistakes”) are the result of bad apples.

          I’m angry that people are mindlessly advocating wholesale economic loss to punish … institutions. Oh by the way, this plan pointlessly punishes institutions….Not a single bank executive would go to trial if a bank was destroyed this way; on the contrary they’d get quite a bit of public sympathy.

          We may as well just light random offices on fire to punish the buildings. Strip the pavement away to punish the roads. The idea that you wreck a bank this way and Washington is going to respond with better reforms? Um, get a clue. The public will *agree* that banks should be protected from attacks like that. All you’ll have done is wreck a bank and increase public support for banks.

          Oh, those poor, poor, innocent little banks! What mean, mean people, that they want to wreck the poor little bank! Why not just select a different business at random – after all, they’re equally innocent! How dare they want to pointlessly punish such innocent institutions! I mean, they’re just so darn innocent! Those innocents sure have my sympathy, and I want to protect them…

          It’s that absurdity, of course, which gave you away as pro-bankster.

          And it’s funny that you, who started out with such sputtering rage over the idea, are now trying to project it upon others.

        2. reslez

          The people who could be inspired to tearful compassion on behalf of “victim” banks are kneejerk authoritarians already hypnotized by mass media. A huge chunk of the population will disagree with you merely because you are protesting. Those people are lost already; if they can be persuaded at all it would be through sheer numbers of people raising their voices against corruption and fraud. The exact form of the protest is irrelevant.

          Your repeated references to the movie “Fight Club” with its squadrons of anarchist goons are a red herring, intentional no doubt, to disguise your complete lack of interest in taking any action whatsoever. Even one as reasonable and mild as withdrawing one’s money from a criminal bank, which is what the commenter proposed.

          1. Jay Hank

            To be frank, you are proving my point. Simply look at this discussion! There’s apparently no middle ground between mass media brainwashed kneejerk authoritarianism and the viewpoint that *absolutely anything* that damages a bank is a noble and sensible thing to do.

            I’m not exactly sure what I wrote that you interpreted as tearful compassion on behalf of banks. I’m not sure why anyone thinks I was spluttering with anger either.

            I didn’t respond initially about the institutions because I would rather punish the people responsible than punish inanimate objects. Failing to distinguish between flawed incentives for individuals and institutions is, in my opinion, a big part of the problem. You flash mob a bank and the banksters won’t have a single dollar clawed back. The FDIC and the taxpayer might eat it, but the banksters are just going to end up managing the assets with some new funding behind it. You’ll successfully put the tellers out of work. It’s a total disaster of an idea, but it’s not my key point, so I was happy to let it slide.

            I don’t keep any of my personal funds with BAC, C, JPM or WFC. I’m not *scared* of your silly internet plot. I just think it’s a ridiculous distraction. You’re proving my point that any sort of measured discussion is near impossible. And I suspect you’re reading my comments and concluding that I’m proving your point about being brainwashed or whatever. So, it’s probably best to bid you gentlemen adieu — good luck with everything — it’s not at all like Fight Club and I think you’ve got a really good shot of making all your dreams come true!

          2. attempter

            So you admit that you think this was the result of a few bad apples who can be punished, and then everything will be fine, since the banks as institutions are fundamentally, conceptually sound.

            Which, if you really believe that, proves you’ve still learned nothing. “Reform”, of any sort, including punishing a few selected victims (talk about selecting at random, which is basically all it would be even if you imprisoned Blankfein and Dimon themselves but simply replaced them with clones and still left the basic structure in place), cannot work. It doesn’t go to the heart of the problem.

            The big banks, institutionally, the structures themselves, are fundamentally criminal and antisocial. (And parasitic and worthless.) According to their proper usage (not as “abuses” by “bad apples”), they create nothing, but only rob and destroy.

            So the only solution is to completely eradicate them, as institutions. So the only worthwhile actions are actions which contribute toward this goal, or which at least draw attention to it and provide the example of action itself.

            Since you brought up the concept of nobility, I’ll proudly aver that seeking liberation from these criminal parasites and recovering the democracy and prosperity they stole is a noble goal, one of the noblest we have. Evidently that’s above the level of your consciousness.

  13. tawal

    Lest we forget, WAMU was run.

    Despite these efforts, WaMu suffered a $9.4 billion run — seven times bigger than IndyMac’s. Southern California became the epicenter, although customers all around the country pulled out cash. Unlike IndyMac, however, WaMu executives kept the five-alarm fire under wraps. No lines formed down the block. No TV cameras splashed the news. Shareholders never knew, either. This first run happened after the start of the third quarter, and WaMu collapsed three business days before the quarter ended, following the second bank run. It never reported those financial results.


    Read more: The downfall of Washington Mutual | Puget Sound Business Journal

  14. Edmundo Braverman


    First of all, I just wanted to drop by and say thanks for your input on the plan. I was really excited when Tim told me you were working on the article too.

    I also wanted to give your readers a bit of background that might clear up a few misconceptions.

    The whole thing was inspired by Arianna Huffington’s “Move Your Money” idea. I thought it was a good idea, but not one that would be dramatic enough to produce any changes in the way the banks did business. So I asked myself, “What would have an impact on the banks?” and that’s when I came up with the Tank-A-Bank plan.

    It was always just a thought exercise, and never something I advocated. While Tim did a great job of summarizing the plan, Playboy simply didn’t have the page space to reprint the whole thing. I know you’ve seen the original plan, but it would be cool if your readers knew that there were provisions in it to punish corrupt politicians and bank lobbyists as well as the banks themselves.

    Once again, thanks for your input on the article and the work you do on Naked Capitalism every day. I’m happy to answer any of your readers’ questions about the plan and its viability to the best of my ability.


    1. attempter

      The goal isn’t to change the way the big banks do business. I think most of us here know that’s a fool’s errand. The goal is to put them out of business. That’s a negative imperative.

      The Move Your Money plan (which is not a new idea, but only recently gained blogosphere prominence since the crash and since Huffington publicized it) is part of the long-term, systematic transformative action we need. The real goals are affirmative – relocalization of our economies.

      While I just said above I support acute counteractions against the big banks like the bank run idea, still the vast bulk of the work against the banks will be chronic, gradual, and erosive – walking away from them, as much as possible refusing to participate in their system, building a new way of life free of their rentier tyranny – rather than acute and flashy.

      1. Patricia

        It’s not either/or. We need the pressure to be both slow and fast. We need flash and steadfastness. We need action that is both the negative and affirmative.

        1. attempter

          Yes, I wasn’t saying it was either/or. “Negative” in this usage isn’t negative in the sense of a pejorative.

          It’s the distinction between what we’re fighting for and what we’re fighting against, and how various tactics fit. Move Your Money is primarily an affirmative act (assuming you move it to a place where it’ll help revitalize the local economy), although also a negative counterattack. The flash mob idea is primarily a counterattack.

          I just want the right prespective on the affirmative focus and the negative supplement. (Although depending on the circumstance tactics may temporarily have to emphasize the negative over the positive.)

  15. serge

    Could someone with the means to spread this plan virally please try to start this for real? It is a simple and direct way to express our anger and protest in a world where the interests of the common man are regularly stepped on. Speculation about how it might turn out is nowhere near as fun as actually giving it a try…

  16. Brick

    The question is what do you really want to achieve and have you considered the collateral damage and personal impact. If you really want to tank a bank all you need do is get 30 of your mates to queue up outside a few banks and take pictures, and then virally spread the pictures through the internet. You ought to consider that a lot of innocent bystanders then get into difficulty accessing their money, or possibly even lose money. As for yourself you will most likely be treated as a terrorist and not see the light of day for a very long time. As for the bank then it just gets taken over by another one and its business as usual. No politicians and no bank executives really stand in the firing line just ordinary people working as bank tellers and the like.
    It would be interesting to read the full idea and how it impacts politicians and bank executives, but I can think of better ways of achieving changes to banks. Change happens when decision makers become personally inconvenienced by events. If people camp outside bank head quarters, bank executives houses, top politicians houses and you pick some particularly aggrieved people with not a lot to lose to throw rotten eggs at them every time they appear, then positive action is more likely to happen, especially since this will attract media attention without collateral damage and loss of sympathy.
    Advocating or inciting any sort of illegal action is not something I am prepared to do, but the fact that a lot of decision makers appear blinkered and have selective hearing means I would not be surprised if illegal action is taken. My guess would be that law enforcement agencies are already aware of the potentials and will already be on the lookout, so the chances of success would be slim.

    1. Tin Foil Cucumber

      Keep in mind Johnny Dugan lives close to Paul Wolfowitz. So, while one was advocating everything from jamming screw drivers into suspects to get them to talk, another was advocating jamming people into the ground through predatory lending. BTW, doesn’t the Treasury Department reserve the right to kill extra-judicially? It’s unusual to connect the Banksters to the war machine, but they most certainly are. What was BCCI’s purpose anyway? Banking?

    2. i on the ball patriot

      “Change happens when decision makers become personally inconvenienced by events. If people camp outside bank head quarters, bank executives houses, top politicians houses and you pick some particularly aggrieved people with not a lot to lose to throw rotten eggs at them every time they appear, then positive action is more likely to happen, especially since this will attract media attention without collateral damage and loss of sympathy.”

      Well said. I have long subscribed to this. Stay away from the ordinary venues they have set out for you — Washington, state capitals, and city and town halls — and go and hit them where they live and profit.

      Poor Timmy Geithner could not sell his 1.635 million dollar home and so he now profits through renting it for big bucks. It would be a great place to direct the homeless to visit, pitch tents and hold political rallies for organizing for positive change. Those with the means could supply eggs for eating and eggs for throwing, check out the nice front lawn …


      Worth repeating and commiting to memory …

      “Change happens when decision makers become personally inconvenienced by events.”

      It will take a full range of many push back actions, it is also time to take election boycotts seriously.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  17. Doly

    I think it could work. People who said it wouldn’t work fall in two categories:

    1. It wouldn’t work for technical reasons (Government would shut down the site, etc.) Being a geek myself, I can tell you that those are no problem. Any well-connected geek could make sure that the plan is on enough servers distributed worldwide that it couldn’t feasibly be shut down by authorities.

    2. It wouldn’t work because people wouldn’t go along with it. The most interesting argument is along the lines that the plan is using weak-tie networking (people that know each other only in passing). But real activism, what gets people to really do things, often relies on strong ties. (Malcolm Gladwell has a good article on this). I have been involved in climate change activism, and I can tell he’s missing one important part of the equation: the mood of the time. The Obama campaign used a lot of weak-tie networking as a base for building strong ties, and it was wildly successful. In my experience, when the general mood is right is very easy to turn somebody you just casually met into a volunteer that puts many hours in the project. So it definitely would work if the general level of hatred for banksters was at the right pitch, and the people organizing it know how to organize. In fact, the difficulty would be convincing people to target a single bank! If things got to the point that people organized to do this, be very afraid for the whole banking system. No bank would be safe.

  18. pierre

    Sorry Eddie, the plan won’t work. Even if you could get it organized. All the big banks have only a moderate amount of their deposit liabilities as consumer deposits (about 1/3rd and 1/5th of total liabilities). Banks like Citi even less as most of this sits outside the US. On average, say for JPMChase, each consumer account as about $12k in it. But there is an 80/20 rule which means about 80% of the deposits sit with 10% of the customers. These are customers who I seriously doubt would participate in your scheme, with average balances of 100k+. So you are left with – as an entire group (sticking with JPM) trying to convince about 20 individuals to pull their money out, of which would impact only about 5% of JPM’s source of funding. They can easily cover this in the markets. Sure, their reputation would suffer, but I could easily imagine a huge PR campaign to convince the public this was done maliciously. And it wouldn’t be surprising if law enforcement gets involved, Patriot Act and all.

    Of course this would have to be done electronically. None of the big bank branches have cash on hand to cover withdrawals that you are talking about. They would simply stonewall the effort until the Treasury’s cash trucks come by to refill. That takes time, which is exactly what the bank’s want.

    Ok, so now you’ve managed to “run” on a big bank and make a (slight) financial impact. The people who withdrew the money probably would need to put the money into another big bank. Who in return would be delighted to open an account. Probably one of the big banks….I doubt sufficient number would change to local banks, community banks, or credit unions. This means the consumer would sever their ties with the first bank (I seriously doubt JPM would let you keep their credit cards, student loans, lend money to you etc if you weren’t their customer any longer) and have to establish new relationships with the other bank. For most people it isn’t worth it.

    Finally, we Americans are sheep. Populist uprisings against banks isn’t really on top of people’s minds. They are worried about finding and keeping their jobs, their homes, their savings, and who will win the latest dance/song show.

      1. Edmundo Braverman

        All excellent points, Pierre. When I wrote the original plan on WSO, I did so to elicit feedback from my readers as to whether or not they thought it would work.

        I purposely stipulated that it would have to take the form of account closings and not just withdrawals, and would have to be cash demands and not electronic for the reasons you listed. It would make the banks very uncomfortable to have the public know how little cash is kept on hand.

        How sad is it that we live in a world today where the simple act of deciding to do business with one bank over another can be construed as a terrorist act?

        1. pierre

          I hear you. The cash on hand issue is purposeful. Statisically, a small percentage of a bank’s customer liabilities are moved in/out of accounts in cash. The local Fed doesn’t like to have trucks everywhere delivering cash that the banks have sitting in vaults that no one withdraws. It is a real estate cost and security issue on the bank side and a transportation and security issue on the Fed/Treasury side. But there are notes available at the Feds on hand for a run you are mentioning.

          Patriot Act (or Bank Secrecy Act to be more precise). You need to know that ANY cash transaction (deposit/withdraw) over 10k automatically generates a Currency Transaction Report by the bank to the IRS (!!) and Fincen. And you can’t get away with “multiple” withdrawals “just under the limit”. Those are captured too and will most likely generate an even more onerous Suspicious Activity Report. In addition to the IRS, The Treasury, the SAR ends up with the FBI.

          All this is due to the enormous amount of drug money out there that needs to make it’s way into the banking system to be laundered, since buying drugs by credit card isn’t (yet) the preferred payment method.

          If you want to close your account, do so electronically. In any case, for a really big bank the impact will be felt,but they will survive.

          1. Betelgeuse

            I think withdrawing cash permanently from chequing accounts
            can cause problems for banks. If I wanted to effect change,
            I might buy a small safe (say a fireproof 50 lb safe).

            Over a period of months, I’d withdraw money from my
            chequing accounts and put it in a safe. I’d keep the
            minimum required to pay rent (by cheque) and replenish
            the chequing account with transfers from the savings account.
            I’d also want to keep my savings account level.

            There are reserve requirements for different types of
            accounts. They are the highest in percentage for
            withdraw-on-demand accounts, i.e. chequing accounts.
            All this can be found about in public libraries.

            I might deposit some of the money in my safe with a
            credit union, but not before studying where that cash
            will go. I think it’s best just to keep more and more
            in a safe, up to some limit I’d be comfortable with.
            Don’t be afraid of the IRS or the Feds: if you’re
            not engaged in illicit activities, they might question you
            but that should be it. It’s good to know about
            Federal law; it’s called the United States Code (USC).
            It’s good to know about common law, civil and penal
            procedure and contract law.

            Bona fide honest chartered accountants should be able
            (with the help of honest economics professors) of
            tying the level of cash tied up in personal safes with
            the impact on capital reserves requirements, and
            the outlook for the banks.

        2. Patriot

          One could argue that since money is speech, then choosing to withdraw one’s money from a bank for political purposes is protected speech.

          The US Supreme Court has ruled , in Citizens United v. FEC, that the government cannot limit the expenditure of money by corporations in the pursuit of political speech. Corporations receive the exact same rights as natural persons in the court’s reading; therefore, natural persons should also be able to expend their money in pursuit of speech.

          Choosing to withdraw one’s money from a bank in protest of the bank’s actions, is an act of political speech, mediated by money. It seems highly unfair for individuals, i.e. natural persons, to be deprived of the same rights of political speech as exercised by corporations.

          Additionally, the mass withdraw of money from a bank is also a protected act in terms of the right to freedom of association, and also the right to assembly. It is analogous to the actions of Martin Luther King and his followers in Birmingham, Alabama. In that case, the protest marchers both refused to patronize the local Birmingham business community (buses, stores, restaurants), but also blocked access to the downtown business district.

          If the actions of Dr. King and the protestors in Birmingham were protected speech and assembly, per the 1st Amendment, then certainly a peaceful assembly and withdraw of funds (funds that are owned by the withdrawing party!) is also legally protected activity.

          Dr. King and the other civil rights leaders of the era recognized that nonviolently disrupting the economic order was a powerful way of forcing oppressive institutions to negotiate. The economic disruptions carried out by the civil rights movement were protected speech under the First Amendment.

          The same holds true today, whether online or offline.

  19. Bas

    Of course this plan would work, given enough publicity. In fact, it happened last year here in Holland, when an activist defending ‘victims’ of a particularly obnoxious bank (DSB) called on clients to withdraw their funds on national television.

    In two weeks, clients took out EUR 622 mln of total deposits of 4.3 bln, and the bank went into receivership. Of course taxpayers ended up footing much of the bill as the government ensures deposits up to EUR 100.000. Even though the activist could be prosecuted on three separate counts according to legal experts, this has not happened.

    An organized bank run as proposed by this ‘Eddie Braverman’ would end up hurting savers and taxpayers alike. Also, it’s extremely sensitive to fraud: imagine the moment he selects one of four banks to run. The temptation to short the hell out of it by the organizers (especially an obvious deadbeat like Mr. Braverman) would be very big indeed…

    1. pierre

      Not sure about equivalence to DSB. DSB had no other source of funding. The TBTF banks do. And, they are TBTF!

      I am quite sure Mr. Braverman would be visited by the SEC and other financial crime relevant outfits. Even if “all’s good”. Someone will profit from a bank run and the bank who was run on has plenty of muscle to investigate this, and would invite all parties to find out who, when, and what.

    2. Patricia

      As it is, banks already hurt savers and taxpayers alike. And the way things stand, they will hurt them again and again and again.

      Since I’m sure you’re not “an obvious deadbeat like Mr Braverman”, I’m sure you have much better ideas. Let’s hear them, Bas.

    3. Edmundo Braverman

      In the original plan, I was very careful to structure things to eliminate moral hazard. The target bank would be selected by lottery during a live webcast, so the whole world find out the target at the same time and make insider trading impossible.

      That said, the shorts would certainly pounce the moment the target was selected, and that’s all part of the plan. Again, it’s strictly an academic exercise.

      Obvious deadbeat? Yawn. I’ve been called far worse. Today.

  20. Ina Deaver

    I think they’d come after the people who did it for RICO, or some such. Remember who the laws are here to protect these days, afterall.

    But an old-fashioned bank run is a really good idea, unless, of course, the bank has access to unlimited free cash, at zero interest, from the same people taking out their deposits. I somehow think that the government got ahead of us on this one.

    1. Patricia

      Yeah, they’re ahead of us everywhere, which is why Black’s comments are chilling. And they’ll cause as much trouble as they can, which is a loooottt of trouble and merciless. But huge continual noise can have an effect, like that of a two-year old’s temper tantrum that just won’t stop. It’s primitive but effective.

  21. tc

    imho, the cash idea doesnt work for security, irs etc reasons. But..when you start moving funds from 1 bank to another, either by wires or bank check, it may cause a rock the boat reaction which would only get more rockin as larger depositors get spooked and move their dough, a la Bear Stearns. Again, imho, as the banks acted to slow the withdrawals, via holding checks or not executing same day wire transfers, the viral effect of increasing withdrawals would cascade higher in number. Personally, as much as I love my bank and the FDIC, if I saw this happeneing, I would put my very limited dough into t-bills and take a wait and see approach on bank credit/liquidity issues

  22. Adam

    Bank runs cause a short term liquidity crisis for the institution. With $1T in bank reserves and the FED on its toes I find it hard to see how you could cause a liquidity crisis for an institution right now. Its an empty threat.

    Attack the banks balance sheet on more vulnerable areas. Move your loans; pay all your bills with multiple PAPER checks; and visit a branch 4 times a week. The latter 2 raise costs for the bank while moving loans attacks profit generating assets. That would put a pinch on bank capital and profits. AND the FED nor reserves can back stop that.

    1. pierre

      Adam +1.
      Eddie, you want to kill a bank? Stop doing business with it. Banks are in the business of lending money, not taking deposits. You are trying on the wrong side of the balance sheet.
      good luck!

  23. chad

    An organized run is asking too much from regular bank companies. What you need is some way to instill in customers the fear their money is at risk if they don’t perform a run. Something that shakes their confidence in the bank. I’m not sure, tactically, how to go about it and, besides, instilling fear in a civilian population to affect an ideological outcome is terrorism so caveat emptor.

    1. chad

      “An organized run is asking too much from regular bank companies”

      should be

      “An organized run is asking too much from regular bank customers”

  24. i on the ball patriot

    “I’m not sure, tactically, how to go about it and, besides, instilling fear in a civilian population to affect an ideological outcome is terrorism so caveat emptor.”

    That’s what the terrorist banks are doing with ‘too big to fail’!

    Deception is the strongest [political force on the planet.

    1. chad

      I understand what you mean but, despite how unfair it is, the law applies to us. And that’s a perfect illustration of how the powerful maintain their power.

      I’ve thought a lot about a particular kind of attack on HFT that could result in flash crashes that span “circuit breaker” trips. A shake in market function of that magnitude would start the dominoes falling. Since I’m a software guy, that would be my contribution to the revolution.

      However, at this point, I’m not prepared to put my family at risk. I have a wife and a 10 month old, I can’t yet justify spending decades in prison and leaving them to fend for themselves. I know it’s for the good of We The People but I can’t do it to my family. The flip-side is my 10 month old growing up under this system.. idk.. maybe i just lack balls.

  25. Matthew

    Thank you Yves for giving this the consideration and attention it deserves. People have been raising serious practical concerns about Eddie’s plan, but I think this is a huge opportunity to think creatively about how collective power *can* be best summoned to put direct pressure on the financial oligarchy.

    Here’s another idea that’s not new: a debtors strike. We stop making loan payments to the systemically destructive banks and their subsidiaries until the banks are put into receivership, investigated, prosecuted, reformed, and regulated, or something along those lines. Once that happens and our trust in the financial system is restored, we resume making payments at reasonable interest rates

    I see a number of advantages in a bank strike over a bank run. For one, I think a strike is easier to understand as virtuous act (perhaps not so much in the US): the screwed masses band together to hurt business on a massive scale as leverage to win demands. There’s a long tradition of well organized and communicated disruption that draws broad support and wins. Second, I think there’s more bank profit at stake in the average (pissed-off) family’s debt payments than their savings accounts. Third, the act itself is very simple: all we have to do is stop making payments. Fourth, if the govt steps in to completely bail out the banks, the movement still benefits because we’re no longer making payments to criminal institutions, and the apocalypse has not occurred.

    The US had a particularly ugly history of breaking early industrial strikes with both private and public armies, and I think the govt would do everything in its power to stop it, including the use force. The corporate media would gladly paint such a strike as satanic and call for blood. But sometimes a movement spreads too far too quickly to be contained, sometimes govts are caught with their pants down, sometimes the cost of stopping it is just too great or frightening to be pursued.

    Anyhow, this is what we should be thinking about — how to translate systemic anger into real democratic power. Regardless were you stand about the feasibility of a particular plan, everyone who’s watched in horror as the fraud, the crisis, the bailouts, and the con game continue should be encouraging each other to keep striving to forge a plan that will work. The more food for thought the better.

    Happy Friday y’all.

  26. Fractal

    What is the difference, if any, between Eddie’s proposal and the “move your money” campaign being promoted by Ariana Huffington, HuffPo and many consumer advocacy groups? If there are differences only in scope or effectiveness, and not differences in intent, the criminal law would treat them the same, which is to say, consider neither of them a crime or terrorist act. What am I missing?

    1. Paul Repstock

      I believe that in the United States, as in most national constitutions, there is a moral obligation to “Stand up against criminality and oppression”. The American people just haven’t found their voice yet. The moral outrage is certainly growing exponentially.

      The attack on which ever bank was chosen, need not be the same for every person. Some could move loans and mortgages, others could withdraw money, and still others could just do their own form of a denial of service attack; whether it be taking time at the counter, calling customer service, or overloading the banks servers with website traffic.

      The point is that we only think we are forced to deal with a certain bank. Sadly the government has promoted this view and if nothing is done now, that will be institutionalized. Support your local bank and credit union, they have the same guarantees and services.

  27. Fractal

    This stuff is two weeks old, the NYT piece is dated Oct. 14, and the original Tank-a-Bank blog postings were last year. Why is this stuff relevant or pertinent now?

    P.S. The Playboy link is a big pain in the butt, there is no PDF or printable version so it forces readers to page sequentially thru 7 or 8 web pages. no thanks

    1. Paul Repstock

      It doesn’t matter ‘how old it is’, The point is that the ordinary person is getting the point “Now”!

      If you don’t believe me; look at the charts for the major stock indicies. Many companies are posting supposedly ‘good profits’. Yet the charts are rolling over their tops. People are ‘voting with their feet’, getting out while the getting is good. Look at the Bank Stocks. Even with the huge volumes of the HFT’s, those are all negative if not completely in the toilet. So don’t say that people are unaware or that they don’t care.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      This isn’t “two weeks old, I suggest you improve your reading skills. The NYT made it clear the article had not been published yet. It was not released until Oct 20, only in print, and was not available on line until the day before yesterday. Your criticism is way off base.

  28. Ration over Emotion

    I really like “attempter’s” comment about getting back to LOCALIZATION of our economy.

    This tank a bank idea is MISSING THAT AS A MAJOR CONCEPT. Instead of making a mass run on a bank on a specific day simply to put it out of business, gain publicity, or change policy, just organize people to start closing their accounts and move them to local banks in an orderly fashion. Put up a website that allows people to search for good local banks near them.

    Why would I want to be part of a mob that does a flash run on MY OWN BANK and potentially put it out of business or put a freeze on withdrawals before I can take out my own money. YOU WILL BE SCREWING YOURSELF in your attempt to make a statement. Instead make a statement as a consumer and switch to a local bank. If done in mass it will accomplish the same thing as Tank a Bank without creating unnecessary chaos.

    1. Edmundo Braverman

      Again, it was a matter of page allocation I’m afraid. The original plan called for moving your money to the place of your choosing with the obvious preference being for a local bank. Moving it to one of the other target banks wouldn’t make any sense.

      1. Reason over Emotion

        I’m surprised nobody called me out on my posting name (Ration over Emotion). That was a brain fart. See current name.

        Edmundo, wow thanks for replying to my post. That is really cool you are reading them as far down from the original post as they are. In response to your reply, the original article may have included moving accounts from big banks to local ones, but the underlying theme was still to do it in a very dramatic fashion with threats, ie en masse and in a short time (1 day). That in itself would actually cause harm to those trying to make their point, as stated in my previous post, as well has harm everyone else. When Lehman and Bear fell the psychological and financial impact reverberated down to the ordinary citizen and we all lost in our portfolios. This would do the same thing except now the ordinary citizen en masse would initiate it. Maybe they will feel good in that they had the control and chose to do it to prove a point but net net we all still lose if done this way.

        1. Edmundo Braverman

          [quote]Edmundo, wow thanks for replying to my post. That is really cool you are reading them as far down from the original post as they are.[/quote]

          Consider it a measure of the respect I have for Yves and her thoughtful readership.

          One other aspect of the original plan that I wanted to point out (that your comment just reminded me of) was that I didn’t call for issuing demands to the banks prior to the attack. The original plan called for the immediate elimination of one of the four banks and then delivering a set of policy change demands to the remaining banks with the threat to do it again. I thought it was important to answer the, “How full of sh** is this movement?” question before any demands were made.

  29. richardd

    Of course the ploy would work – IF Eddie could generate the critical mass needed to make it work. But its more than the created bank runs that would kill the banks if this got going. Stock values would fall like a rock in advance as investors would get nervous, potentially reducing reserves just before the button got pushed. The banksters are right, this is terrorism, perhaps even extortion, but you know what? The banks have already terrorized and extorted us. Payback’s a bitch.

    BTW – 20 years ago I would say that publishing this in Playboy ensure its success, but does anyone buy Playboy anymore? With all the free porn online, it must be for the articles.

    1. Edmundo Braverman

      I have to admit, I was pretty surprised when I got my copies of the magazine. In my youth, when scoring a Playboy was still a feat worthy of hero worship, the magazine was as thick as a Sears catalog. Now…well, not so much.

      Print publishing is a tough gig these days.

  30. leroguetradeur

    No, I do not think the idea has the slightest chance of success. That is, I don’t think it has the slightest chance of sparking a mass movement which would actually succeed in trashing one or more large banks. I don’t believe you would get enough people to act in unison in a targeted way with sufficient force to do it.

    Why not? Because it will not seem to them a sensible thing to do. They will not see what they stand to gain from (eg) trashing Citi. And they will be right, they do not stand to gain anything.

    However, supposing it did take off in enough force to actually work, what effect would it have? The first question is whether it could actually trash one particular target bank. Probably not. There is no reason why Fed support should not be adequate to the liquidity task, which is what it would be. Of course, there would be a delay for paying out funds, but we would have a fairly simple situation where the explanation offered would be convincing. The bank would say, and rightly, that it was the target of a political action, that its solvency was not in doubt, that these were not normal times, and so there would be delays. And when everyone started to be paid in full, it would all blow over.

    But OK, suppose the bank got trashed. Suppose we then move on to the next one, and that gets trashed too. Now our last state, as the Bible says, is worse than our first. There is only one thing worse than being in our present mess with banks that are somewhat working, and that is being in our present mess with banks that have closed shop and gone bust.

    All in all, this is one of the most stupid ideas I have ever heard. It cannot work, is the first problem with it, and if it did, it would not do any good. What is there to like about it?

    1. Paul Repstock

      There are actually more than enough finacial institutions, excluding the 4 big bank to handle the transaction volume. Not only that without those large banks wiping out competion, there would soon be many more ‘managable sized banks’. (that is opposed to TBTF banks). About the only thing which the TBTF banks do which smaller banks would not, is to frontrun the Fed and the Treasury.

      When the Government is unable or unwilling to bring punishment to criminal institutions and individuals, it falls to the ordinary person. If that ‘ordinary person’ is not willing to do anything, They have lost their rights to any freedom.

    2. steelhead23

      What is solvency? My understanding is that to be solvent by FDIC standards, a bank must hold a certain fraction of its liabilities as reserves, ~10%. A reasonably successful bank run would reduce reserve assets without reducing liabilities. Thus the bank would become insolvent and to protect depositors the FDIC would have to reorganize the bank (shed liabilities). Also, as we saw during 08, faced with insolvency, some banks tried to add to their reserves by offering high interest rates on deposits. This liability actually made them more vulnerable to poor cashflow, so if FDIC failed to take prompt corrective action we could see more WaMus and Wachovias. I believe that FDIC would be more aggressive today.

    3. Kevin de Bruxelles

      Would any people ever advance if they didn’t sometimes take risks? I think zooming in on the outcome of this particular gambit misses a larger point. Would a small bank rebellion perhaps start a cycle of action and repression that could ultimately spark a larger conflagration? The key to any such battle is to wipe out the reasonable middle. In a war-like situation people are forced to take sides. It’s all black and white, no shades of grey are allowed. In this case, who would take the side of the banks. Wouldn’t each cycle of conflict tend to sort the Many away from the Few until at the end the Bankstaz were standing all alone?

      The only thing worse than strife and depredation is slavery. If you are not willing to suffer a Verdun then prepare for an Auschwitz.

      1. leroguetradeur

        The historical analogy is confused: the defence of Verdun was militarily totally pointless and was irrelevant to the rise of Nazism. It is like arguing that if you want to avoid invading Iraq, the price was the Vietnam war. Duh!

        Look, you guys want to spend your time moving your deposits from one bank to the other, feel free. Its typical of a certain sort of political action, it makes the participants feel better without changing anything.

        You want to produce political change, you have to change peoples minds in the first place, then you have to get elected in the second. Now when you say this to people of a certain bent, they explain to you that this is impossible because the media are dominated by people they call the banksters, and the population is a bunch of sheep, and the electoral process is corrupt…. and so on. We have all heard it.

        Fine, if that is the way you really think, draw the necessary conclusion explicitly. There are two other alternatives to political action within the electoral system. One is the Trotskyite Syndicalist Anarchist line, which suggests bringing about chaos of some sort. It can be mass strikes or it could conceivably be some other sort of mass movements of refusal. The problem this line has is that it is easy to see how anarchy and breakdown is produced given enough external stress to the society. It is not at all clear however what happens next, and this is why this line metamorphoses into plan B.

        Plan B is a coup by force. Which is what people like attempter are arguing for, just not openly.

  31. Morgan Meeker

    This is a form of civil disobedience and I’m all in favor of purging anger in public. I’m also willing to accept the consequences.

  32. EmilianoZ

    Many months ago when I learned about Move Your Money, I posted a link to the website in the comment section of The Economist. The administrator took it down. I was surprised. I had used no foul language, I had insulted nobody. I had just posted the link in the shortest of posts. This tells me that banks do care about deposits.

    1. Patricia

      That’s also simply HuffPo. They’re notorious for cutting out comments that are action-oriented proposals on things that are radical. They’re as scared as the next guy, I suppose.

  33. morgan irving

    It sounds ridiculous. The guy probably has a buddy who bought a bunch of CDS on the bank and/or is short it’s stock.

    The real story is that this stuff happens all the time… just between bank managers. IE, when Bear was about to die, Goldman said ‘let us lend a helping hand’, and Bear, on it’s last legs, it’s knees giving out, about to fall off the side of a cliff, said “I’d rather fall off a cliff than let you look at my books.”

    The best way to destroy a bank is to become a manager, and then act as you are told by ‘shareholder activists’, Wall Street “Analysts”, etc. This hyperfocus on short term to the exclusion of everything else will drive any company into the toilet with far more certainty and a colder, deader thud than any flash mob nonsense on facebook.

  34. Hu Flung Pu

    Isn’t there a flawed premise with the Tank-a-Bank plan? If someone is irritated enough with their bank to bother to follow the Tank-a-Bank plan… haven’t they already moved to another institution? If you’re so pissed off with your bank that you want it to fail, why are you still banking there? There are plenty of other options out there – from credit unions to smaller community banks – that unless your business is so large that only a huge bank’s balance sheet can accommodate your needs… there’s no need to be a customer of one of these huge, hated behemoths. So, the problem with the plan as I see it is adverse selection – the folks most likely to participate in such a plan have already moved on to another bank. The others are going to be hard to motivate as they’ve already shown their apathy by staying in a bad situation.

  35. tz

    I think I posted something parallel in tickerforum.

    The problem is, even if most people will phone their congress-bot and tell them to vote no on TARP, they will still maintain the abusive relationship with their big bank even if next door is a community credit union that has every one of the services, but with lower loan rates, higher deposit rates, lower if any fees and no penalty games, and the personnel are friendly instead of surly.

    I haven’t had a bank account for years – but my credit union account goes back decades.

    We had local banks but most were swallowed up by citi, chase, or the BoA constrictor.

    Right now the left AND right could call for a boycott of the big banks – and all you would need is to move direct deposits into a new account until the old was drained by ordinary bill paying. And they would save time, money, and frustration. Open an account in your local, community bank today. But who will call for it and who would actually switch from their megabank?

    Do masochists complain about the pain they keep going back to have inflicted upon them?

  36. Chris

    We are a group of citizen operatives looking to recruit more members to engage in frequent combats targeting big businesses and particularly big banks. We are forming combat units all across the nation. If you are not violent but enjoy using your intellect in planning high impact ambush attacks write to: admin@privatrade.com

    1. leroguetradeur

      You need to explain what your objectives are. Do you want to put selected companies out of business? Why? Or do you want to have a sort of rolling strike, which will put a significant or critical section of the economy out of business? Why?

      1. Chris

        None of the above. We want to launch strikes at certain corporations that will cost them millions of dollars to defend. We want them to know if they continue with their practices it will be at a huge cost.

  37. Tim Singleton

    I have often said that the way for Americans to take control of their finances is to simply refuse to finance thier purchases. There is no practical difference between paying cash for things like cars and homes with the exception that because you are paying cash, you are not engaging in expanding the credit/money supply by going through the loan process.

    The bankers would have you think this is a bad idea because expanding credit is good for the economy’s growth. Perhaps, but I have also decided that it is better to be free and to have future earnings unencumbered by debt than to help expand the credit available in the economy. At some point that credit begins to be a drain on the economy, not an engine for growth. Sucking capital out of the housing market to finance consumer goods has got to be one of the more stupid ideas our government and the banking industry have ever engaged in. It was a deliberate bubble situation.

  38. Chris

    None of the above. We want to launch strikes at certain corporations that will cost them millions of dollars to defend. We want them to know if they continue with their practices it will cost them.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Chris; you would do well to remember that force begets force. For every action here will be an opposite and equal reaction, and therefore nothing will change. Except that you and your people will get munched because you do not have the resources these entities have.
      Passive resistance and a refusal to participate in the abuse is the only reasonable way to go. Also, if you want credibility, you had better offer a website detailing plans and objectives rather than just an annonymous email address which would place any responders on some email database??

  39. Paul Repstock

    Anarchism has been given a bad rap.
    Most of the supportive posters here are (whether they understand it or not), promoting anarchism.
    Anarchism is not a violent overthow of civilization, rather it is a refusal to participate in a centerist control structure which does not benifit it’s constituents. The violence arrises when the central authority uses force to reassert control.


    Yves has probably stepped over the line by just posting the story above. As you can tell by my use of my real name in public forum, I stand with her. This is not just about TBTF banks. It is about a failed governance structure which must be changed.

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