As of December 2009 the Big Four is something you can search for and read about on Wikipedia. It’s still a stub article, but it’s there. I can’t go in and fill it out because I am worried about conflicts of interest now that I campaign on the issue. Someone reading this post should feel more than welcome to though.
If Wikipedia status means anything, it at least means an idea or word has been said enough times to become a meme. And so, after all my work with A New Way Forward and the work of thousands of people, normal and fancy, over the past year, the Big Four is at least a meme. (For full disclosure, we’re now asking people to break up with their banks at bankbreakup.org and canvass with BanksterUSA.)
What does the Big Four mean? It’s the big 4 banks — Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Chase — who together are a dangerous entity in society. Together, they pose danger to society, the economy, and our politics. They each have past the size of a company that makes a company more efficient and have become giants that hold the strings to our country. They have gone into the territory of overpricing, dominating political debate, and taking down the country without remorse when they fail.
I talked about this on Danny Schechter’s radio show on the Progressive Radio Network today.
How are the big 4 banks dangerous? When you’re a corporation you put more money into investing in your future to beat out the competition. These big 4 banks did this in the 90′s, and back in the 80′s, and back in the 20′s, and have won. They beat out all competition and now anything they want, including the dangerous stuff, is deemed okay.
Most likely, your wages haven’t gone up in the past 20 years, we have around 20% unemployment and underemployment, we have millions of foreclosures, we have $700 billion of household debt, young Americans spend 29% of their income on debt, we have lack of individual political power with the decline of unions and what they stand for and, our state and local budgets have just been bamboozled and taken away by the big banks.
"At first, Minneapolis janitor Rosalina Gomez said she didn’t realize she was cleaning up after the CEO of the bank that bought her foreclosed home in a September sheriff’s sale. "At the beginning I didn’t know he was the guy," said Gomez through an interpreter in an interview with HuffPost."
We have made-up rules and gouging prices created to make you trip up and make the big four more money: You can get on a blacklist for something you might do without thinking. "Disputing a credit card charge by asking for a "chargeback" can lead to being put on a blacklist that merchants can check for customers who might try to defraud them. Getting off the list costs $99, although the fee is waived if the customer didn’t know they were committing "friendly fraud," said Brien Heideman, founder of BadCustomer.com, which keeps such a customer list for retailers that don’t want to get hit with costly credit chargebacks."
We have Greece’s debt turned into a money-making insurance policy by a Big 4 and a Big 6. Bankster’s blog explains Greece, and here is a summary: "It’s "like selling a car with bad brakes and then taking out an insurance policy on the driver.” Greece is "too-big-to-fail", is in heavy debt and can default. Goldman Sachs helped get them into debt by helping to hide the debt so they can loan even more money from others. Goldman, JP Morgan and others also sold "insurance policies" on Greece’s debt – their buyers will make a bunch of money if Greece goes totally bust."
So, we’re at the beginning of realizing the answer to "Why are the Big 4 Banks dangerous to society and what’s a better way to do banking in this country?" Reuters knows why. They have a great graphic on the increase in size.
Simon Johnson beat me to it and layed out three reasons why "Big Banks are Bad"
"First, the economic advantages of bigness were not as great as claimed. In many cases big firms did well because they used unfair tactics to crush their competition. John D. Rockefeller became the poster child for these problems.
DESCRIPTION The original J.P. — that is, John Pierpont — Morgan.
Second, even well-run businesses became immensely powerful politically as they grew.
J.P. Morgan was without doubt the greatest financier of his day. But when he put together Northern Securities — a vast railroad monopoly — he became a menace to public welfare, and more generally his grip on corporations throughout the land was, by 1910, widely considered excessive.
Third, there was a blatant attempt to use the political power of big banks to shape the financial playing field in ways that would help them (and their close allies) and hurt the remainder of the private sector — including farmers, small businesses and everyone else."
Any results-based, research-heavy, social-issues aware economist will tell you that they agree a level playing field is what all good things flow from. That’s all we’re asking for. I want a Democrat in Congress to show me how they aren’t keeping at bay the level playing field.
We’re at the beginning of the fight and wikipedia is showing that we can win over our collective hearts and minds.
Published on anwf’s blog here.