Quote of the Day: How Your Bank Screws You

From Felix Salmon, writing about the day his checking account balance briefly went negative:

By this point, it was abundantly clear what was going on: Citi was doing everything in its power to try to keep me in the dark as to the amount that I had unwittingly borrowed, and to try to ensure that I remained in debt to them for as long as possible.

Or maybe the real money quote is this: “All of which is to say that retail banking is broken, it’s broken everywhere.” That includes Britain, where Felix reports that banks are on the hook for as much as $30 billion in compensation for selling worthless “insurance” to their customers for the past 15 years. And you can add to the list this weekend’s New York Times piece about the endless nickel and dime fees that hourly workers increasingly get dinged with because they’re paid via debit cards.

I dunno. Maybe Matt Yglesias is right. Maybe we really do need some kind of basic, no-frills postal banking service. I’m really not a fan of the idea, but I’m also increasingly skeptical that any amount of regulation can prod banks to act decently toward their customers. They’re just too addicted to making money by screwing people, and those of us in the middle class (who mostly benefit from this system, even if we too get screwed occasionally) are too willing to put up with it. The poor and the working class are basically fighting a pitched battle against Republicans, big bankers, and the upper middle class, and that’s not a fight they’re ever likely to win.


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