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HuffPo's 'Move Your Money' campaign

Arianna Huffington

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Tess Vigeland: This week marked the start of Wall Street bonus season. It's a great time for their bank accounts. For their public image... not so much.

Many Americans wonder how anyone could deserve seven and eight figure bonuses so soon after the near-collapse of the banking system. But what can you do about it other than snarl, right? Well for starters, you could switch banks. And joining us to talk about a fledgling movement to get more folks to do just that is Arianna Huffington, she of the Huffington Post. Welcome to Marketplace Money.

Arianna Huffington: Hi.

Vigeland: So a couple of weeks ago you posted on the site, sort of a call to arms for anyone who banks with one of the Big Kahunas. It's called "Move Your Money." Tell us a little bit about this campaign.

Huffington: So it all started over dinner with friends. We were all talking about this huge irony of the taxpayer bailing out the big banks. And now the big banks are doing very well, they're making massive profits, they're giving themselves huge bonuses. While Main Street is suffering with double-digit unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, etc.

So we teamed up with the IRA -- Institutional Risk Analytics -- to provide a tool that we made available on a site that we called MoveYourMoney.info. So anyone who wanted to move their money could actually just put their zip code in and find out if they're credit worthy, solvent community banks in their neighborhood, so they can find their credit union or community bank and move their money from one of the big banks.

Vigeland: And how's it going so far?

Huffington: In the few days since we launched the campaign, well over half the country's zip codes have already been searched. And the comments that people are leaving and the action they're taking is an incredible indication of how much people really wanted to move from resignation and anger to action.

Vigeland: But even if you do get a lot of people to switch to community banks, do you think it'll really put much of a dent in the big bank's bottom line?

Huffington: Well, it actually makes a big difference, because the core deposits that the banks rely on, are very important to the bottom line. Just to give you an idea: This year alone, banks are expected to make $38 billion -- the big banks -- on overdraft fees. And instead of lending, which if you go back, you will remember that was the primary reason, supposedly we had to save them, in order to be able to lend again and start the positive economic cycle that we're all looking for -- instead of doing that, they use the money to fatten their balance sheets and go back to their risky derivatives trading.

Vigeland: It sounds like perhaps, your real goal here is empowerment for folks who are so, so angry right now, even more than damaging those big banks.

Huffington: Our goal is not to damage the big banks. Our goal is to make them smaller. And we believe making them smaller is entirely in the interest of this country. In fact, keeping them "too big to fail" undermines our financial security in the future.

Vigeland: All right, well we described this earlier as a "fledgling movement." We'll be interested to see whether it turns into something bigger. Arianna Huffington is co-founder and editor in chief of the Huffington Post, where you can find all kinds of information on the Move Your Money campaign. Thanks so much for your time.

Huffington: Thank you.

Vigeland: But perhaps you know you've more than a fledgling campaign on your hands when Stephen Colbert, or at least his TV persona, takes a potshot at you in his nightly news parody "The Colbert Report."

Stephen Colbert on his show "The Colbert Report": The idea of a community bank presupposes that we still have communities.

Eugene Jarecki: Which is a big leap.

Colbert: We don't really have communities any more. Because I just stay at home, and I do all my banking online, and I pay my bills, and I play Mafia Wars on the other side of the screen. My local bank isn't going to provide that for me.

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Hey, I'd be happy to patronize the local banks, just as soon as they offer me rates and services that the big online banks do. Until that time, well...

I am not an Arianna Huffington fan but this is a good idea. I have my personal and consumer accounts with a local credit union- checking, savings, and credit cards. Big banks only really serve corporate and institutional customres. Their pricing is as bad as their advertising is good. My mortgage and life insurance are shopped separately though the credit union sets a standard for rates and fees by which the bigger institutins can be judged. Community banks with a history are as good as credit unions.

Its only a matter of time before the community banks get bought out by the big "bad" banks. You can run but you can't hide.... We should reform the banking industry not ignore the problem.

I left a large commercial bank over 15 years ago after one too many screw ups with ATM cards and bank consolidations. One bank buy out threw my account to another bank that had nothing to do with my original bank or the bank doing the take over. All this without any choice on my part - and leaving me without access to my money through the local branch for a week. I moved to a local credit union the next week. What a surprise it was in service and increase in interest on my accounts. Interest on my checking account? Yes! My auto loan was 2% cheaper! Yes! No cost Savings account? Yes!
I am still a member of that credit union even though I moved 3500 miles away. They were on the forefront of on-line banking so there was no need to change.
One thing to remember - those very big banks that are too big to fail are well aware of the local credit unions and commercial banks and their better services and are constantly lobbying Congress to limit their growth. So while we need to limit the big banks we also need to limit their ability to limit OUR choice be it the local commercial banks or the very helpful credit unions.

People need much more info about how to do this. Not everyone has deposits in the 6 big banks named by Bill Maher (indeed two of those he names are investment banks with no retail depositors). But lots of people have Bank of america credit cards, or mortgages with Chase. Maher suggests moving them too. But how does one go about doinh that? And what are the risks? Will it affect your credit rating to change a card? Will it affect your mortgage interest rate or your credit rating to change your mortgagee? You shouldn't put these suggestions out there without (1) explaining how to do it; and (2) discussing the risks.

"This year alone, banks are expected to make $38 billion on overdraft fees."
While I could not be more supportive in moving your money to a local/community bank it seems to me that Ms Huffington is mixing up things here a little bit. Overdraft fees come from not having your spending under control. Move your money AND spend responsibly should rather be the slogan.

"Move and make these guys so small they have to move to Haiti." I think the big banks have been in Haiti. American imperialism/colonialism has been in cahoots with the Haitian regimes for many years. Let's hope we don't end up like Haiti; moving our money now.

I have been a credit union member for over 30 years, financed a home and land purchases, and have a good credit card through them. Two years ago, I moved my investments from "Wall Street" to local credit unions which are federally insured and keep my balances below the insurance limits. I have not lost one night of sleep over possible failures. Peace of mind is worth more than the promise of "a few dollars more."

I have used a credit union for 35 years, all of the advantages, no excess fees. borrowed over $100,000 at 2.75% to purchase farm land.
The reason I am posting is, time for round two, demand that bailed out banks and failed institutions (i.e. AIG) records and files are opened and reviewed, time to find out 'who knew what when' and place guilty managers in a Federal slam where they can improve their tennis game.
I have seen three rounds of inflation, this nect one is going to be a doozy

bg

Hey, I've been in a credit union for oever 25 years. I can bank online wiht them. I can obtain credit cards at cheaper rates than from the Wall Street crooks, I can obtain home loans, and I'm not just a customer I'm a "member."

Move and make these guys so small they have to move to Haiti.

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