Monday, September 15, 2008

Financial Fairy Tales

Slutty Wachovia & The Big Bad Wolf
© 2008 Leighann Lord

In a clear sign of our current economic woes, bank robberies are up 50% in New York City. According to the statistics the best NYC bank to burgle? Wachovia. Last year half its branches were robbed. This year, 10 out of 24 branches have been hit and thieves have gotten out the door with the money every time. Jesse James would have been proud. So, if you need a couple dollars, but forgot your pin number, head on over to Wachovia.

Thankfully, my bank hasn’t been robbed enough to make it into the top 10. I suspect it’s because they give away free coffee. Customers come in, transact their business, have a free cup of coffee, sit down on the comfy couches and plan to rob Wachovia.

The New York Police Department doesn’t credit the criminals with this increase in successful robberies. They claim that in the effort to be more open, warm and friendly, banks have become way too lax about security. Translation: They were asking for it. The banks are easy and Wachovia is a straight up slut; giving it up to any bad boy who walks through the revolving door with a gun and a note.

Is it really fair to blame the victim? Maybe Wachovia had a less than ideal upbringing: An absentee father; a disinterested mother? Low self esteem? Let he who is without a dysfunctional family cast the first stone. I’m not saying Wachovia doesn’t bear some culpability here. You can’t leave the doors unlocked after 6pm with money piled up in the lobby for the taking; but a little help and understanding from the authorities would be nice.

It’s been a really bad week overall in the financial world. The government stepped in and took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I’m a little jealous. I have money issues. Where’s my bailout? Where’s my financial do over?

The two CEO’s lost their jobs but that doesn’t seem like enough. Shouldn’t they have lost their homes as well? I like the cosmic justice of that. They should lose their homes and watch their stuff being put out on the side walk. If they ask for help, they should be told to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

We’re all deeply invested in who the next president will be, but in a way it doesn’t matter; Democrat or Republican. Same crap. Different suit. The person to keep your eye on is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. That’s the guy who’s in charge of the money. When he sneezes people buy stock in Kleenex.

The new guy, Ben Bernanke, is okay but I miss Alan Greenspan. He’s sexy in an old wrinkly white guy kinda way. Whenever I saw him on TV he always looked exhausted and disheveled; like he could open every speech with "Hello, I’m Alan Greenspan and I haven’t slept in 12 years. I can’t talk long. The euro is kicking my ass." And by God, that’s how the Chairman of the Federal Reserve should act. He should look like he’s walking the wire of high finance and counting every penny.

I don’t know why but I felt economically safe when Papa Greenspan was on the job. I’d like to think if he was still in charge he’d be able to steer us through this economic fiasco. He probably wouldn’t have allowed us to get into it in the first place. Greenspanie did in fact sound the alarm – albeit right before the release of his book "The Age of Turbulence" – but the market couldn’t hear him over the roar of their own greed.

I cringe when people say that the housing crisis was caused by homeowners who couldn’t pay their mortgage. Does that mean slavery was caused by people who couldn’t run fast enough to evade capture? The crime of the former was hoping that this was their shot at the American dream of home ownership and not reading the ultra fine print on their crooked contracts.

The beauty of predatory lending is that the big bad wolf doesn’t need to blow your house down anymore. He just overvalues your dream home, sells you a mortgage you can’t afford, with a variable rate you can’t keep up with, and then sells it off to respectable companies that should know better. Sometimes the biggest robberies are an inside job. "I’ll take Lehman Brothers for a thousand, Alex."

Talks are hot and heavy to rescue the 158 year old institution, but don’t hold your breath for a personal bail out. If you’re lucky, your parting gift will be a tee shirt that says, "I Bought a No Money down House and All I Got Was this Crappy Credit Score." See you at Wachovia.

Thank you for reading The Urban Erma.

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