Your Bank Unmasked

Sometimes things just come along in a made-to-order fashion. Take for example PNJ columnist Mark O’Brien’s column entitled Florida Looking For New Money. Mark references this story where, responding to Gov. Rick Scott’s appeal for ideas to raise revenue, Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton introduced HB 313. A bill that would allow advertising space to be sold and displayed on state transportation property. Like ‘Geigo Turnpike’ or maybe even ‘Philly’s Cheesesteaks Highway.’

Having just gone through a vigirous campaing season, there is one thing still fresh in my mind when it comes to raising revenue in order to close Florida’s $3.6 Billion budget gap. It just escapes me why an answer so simple continues to be ignored by the ruling class. I contend, they’re looking in the wrong places.

Economist and former Florida independent gubernatorial candidate Dr. Farid Khavari shines the light on the banking system’s dirty little secret. Which is how banks can, and do, make money hand over fist on their depositors’ hard-earned money.

After you read how they do it, consider that we (the state of Florida and Florida’s taxpayers) can take advantage of this very same system to benefit the state and its residents, instead of Wall Street. It is done by reducing cost. Simply raising money by selling advertising or liquidating real estate does not have the long-term stimulus that reducing costs on everyone can have. All those who do not want to reduce your cost of living please raise your hand.

WHY ARE THE BANKS REQUIRING MINIMUM DEPOSITS?

Farid A. Khavari (Ph.D.) Economist

Certainly, give banks at least one big credit—they always find creative ways to extract money from their clients. We know and have heard a lot about these banks being bailed out, officers or high end corporate individuals receiving hefty bonuses, and of course the fees! Now, they are out on the hunt to get us again! Banks are now requiring minimum deposit amount, and/or accomplishing certain performances in terms of debit card purchases, having a CD or a savings account with them, as conditions for not paying fees! In clear terms: once a bank client subscribes to a package, the bank also offers to wave fees on certain services, which come with the particular package if they manage to meet the requirements of that particular package. In the past, these would have been free with no requirements for certain performances!

These requirements not only presents the epitome of all greed, but tops all other abusive practices—charging fees if a bank client account falls below the average minimum deposit requirement. This is absurd! In other words, banks want your money, but with conditions attached. If you fail to follow their specific requirements, then you would be required to pay penalties for utilizing your hard-earned money. It would be a dream if everyday businesses had that kind of leverage over their customers, but they don’t. The banks though had that leverage.

Granted, not all accounts the banks control are loaded with high deposit amounts. Many of them are in more turmoil that a bank needs. Which business in the world can claim to enjoy anything different—some accounts are without doubt clear headaches, but the overwhelming number of them are profitable, otherwise no business could last for too long. The same applies to the banks.

Surprising though, is that the majority of people that fall in the traps of banks. The banks justify the requirement for the minimum deposit due to the rising cost of entertaining the accounts, or the rising cost in general!

First of all, deposits are the lifeblood of banks, which makes it possible for them to come into existence and exist; without deposits, it is obvious no bank could exist. However, what make the banks prosper are these deposits, of which are lent out to borrowers! This lays the critical issue that not too many people are aware of dealing with banks. In most cases people think that banks exist from the difference between the amounts of interest collected through lending and paid out for the borrowed monies! This isn’t necessarily true. First of all, a bank pays non-significant amount of interest on a saving account much less on the deposits in a checking account. On the other hand, even if a bank pays interest on a deposit, they make at least over forty-five times more on interest than they payout on that amount! Here is an explanation. For example, when a bank receives a deposit of say, $100, it can and usually does lend out up to ten times by employing the “fractional reserve banking regulation,” which is legal, and is utilized by every bank in the United States. However, the banks pay only the interest on the $100, whereas collect interest on $1,000. It must be noted that the banks pay a much lower interest rate on deposits, presently, below 1% (one percent), but collects 4.5% on the $1,000.

($100 X 1% = $1 the bank pays, but collects, $1,000 X 4.50% = $45)

Now, let’s see how the minimum deposit requirement of $15,000 and monthly fee of $25 plays out for the bank and the clients:

According to this policy being increasingly utilized by banks, a $25 fee would be imposed, should the average monthly balance drop only one penny below $15,000. This apparently innocent measure would create a cash bonanza for the bank as the following calculation demonstrates.

Assume you keep an average of $15,000 in your account as demanded by your bank to avoid having to pay $25 fee. Using the “fractional reserve banking rules,” the bank would be lending out the amount of $15,000 ten times, which would be $150,000 ($15,000 X 10 times = $150,000).  Charging an interest rate of only 4.50%, which is being charged presently for mortgages, the bank would be making a whopping $6,750 interest annually, or, every month $562.50 on your money! Under this scheme the banks would be making over 45% (forty-five percent) interest on your $15,000 average balance in your account without even giving you a cent.

Do you have to worry about the high operation cost of the banks when they can make that kind of money with interest on your interest free deposit, yet penalizing you if you fail to assure them that amount?! Think about it!

We invite those banks, which do not use these kinds of abusive tactics and methods, to send us their names and contact information to make available to our readers.

Farid A. Khavari is author of nine books dealing with economics, banking, healthcare, energy, oil, environment, currency, and cost. For more information, please visit www.zerocosteconomy.com.

Copyright @ 2011 by Farid A. Khavari

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