Just as one of the most challenging years since the Great Depression was drawing to a close, ICBA and our close to 5,000 member community banks found ourselves the center of attention when the Huffington Post launched a campaign to encourage people to take their money out of the megabanks and support community banks instead. Tired of bailouts and bonuses, fed up with impersonal treatment and frustrated that getting new loans or financing old ones has become nearly impossible, the Move Your Money campaign is urging Americans to fight back against the big guys.
Isn’t that just what ICBA has been saying for years and been trumpeting especially loudly the past two years?
It’s gratifying to know that we’ve been so successful in getting our messages out that we’ve helped spur this very pro-community bank, populist campaign.
Ever since this movement got started more than two weeks ago, I’ve been hearing from community bankers across the country, just as pleased as I am that citizens are finally talking about the differences between those enormous Wall Street financial institutions and our Main Street community banks.
We at ICBA agree that the more people learn about, appreciate and use community banks, the better it will be for our economy. But, unfortunately, solving the problems that led to our financial crisis isn’t as simple as just changing banks. If we really want to put an end to the too-big-to-fail policies that brought this country so close to financial collapse, we’ve got to hit the big guys where it hurts—passing legislation and regulations that will finally rein in the risk-taking and limit the size and scope of systemically dangerous institutions.
ICBA’s innovative Web site—MyCommunityMyBank.org—lets people add their voices to the call to hold Wall Street accountable by sending messages to Congress in their own words about why we must cut the big guys down to size. It’s a great grassroots campaign and has already generated a significant number of citizen advocates. You can help us spread the word about the site as widely as possible. The more voices we have, the more successful we will be in truly passing meaningful reform.
On this issue—as on many others—ICBA basically stands alone. We aren’t interested in taking popular positions, we are interested in doing the right thing, whether that curries us favor with other groups or not. Our interest is what is right for community banks and the citizens and markets they serve. I have to admit that it’s very nice to find ourselves riding the populist groundswell of Americans who are firmly on the side of community bankers—and are ready to stand behind us in Washington. I hope you are among them.