Banks don't want our money because they're no longer banks

Bank facade

In what is surely a sign that we've reached a new level of absurdity with regard to all things financial in this country, our banks are now complaining that they have too much cash on their hands.

Please read that sentence again very carefully and see if makes sense to you.

Since the dawn of banking, which coincided with the invention of suspenders, the primary function of that brick building on the corner with the huge iron vault and the lousy coffee was to store our dough in a manner far more secure than our mattress or a U-Stor-It unit.

Call me Jurassic, but when I think of a bank, I think of that vault, not some snarky twentysomething in a Men's Wearhouse suit trying to sell me mutual funds.

I know my money isn't actually inside there, but I like the vault. It beats being robbed at gunpoint.

So here's the deal: The New York Times and others are reporting that banks don't want any more of your cash.

Why?

Because so many of us, including businesses, have yanked our cash out of this yo-yo stock market and parked it in the bank, like any sane person would.

As a result, banks are flush with the stuff but hard-pressed to find a way to make a dime off it. Lending has flat-lined. As for investing it? What, are you insane?

So if you detect a certain cold shoulder at your branch lately, it's not just the bad java.

"We just don't need it anymore," banker Don Sturm, owner of American National Bank and Premier Bank, told the Times. “If you had more money than you knew what to do with, would you want more?”

In fact, some banks, like Boston's Hyde Park Savings, have intentionally lowered their already abysmal CD rates just to drive off customers.

Aw, go ahead and read that one again, too.

Of course, banks aren't the victims here -- we are.

It has been big banking's rapacious, reprehensible behavior since the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 opened those vaults to all manner of crazy investing, including (but not limited to) subprime investing, that has led us to this precarious cliff.

Now that we're asking them to be banks again -- and nothing more, thank you -- they've either forgotten how or can't stomach the job.

Too flush? It must be nice.

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