How will that go? Bank of America is the canary in the coal mine.
Since the Occupy movement first began targeting Bank of America, stock symbol BAC, for its proposed debit card fee, the company has been buying ad time like mad.
The ads show happy retail customers getting “great services” from the bank, through its cards. And they show happy small businesspeople whom, it's inferred, are getting loans from the bank.
The company has backed this up with a PR campaign, resulting in headlines like this one from the LA Times.
Fact is that Bank of America and Citibank, together, made .6% of the SBA loans offered in 2010, while controlling 20% of America's deposits. Even that may be overstating the case, since the banks define any business with sales up to $20 million as small.
But aren't those smiling grocers and bakers in the BofA ads? Yes, they are.
A management consultant called cg42 says the big banks could lost $185 billion in deposits next year because of consumers pulling their money out. Sounds like a lot, but BofA alone has $407 billion in retail deposits. Some investment houses are starting to trim their holdings in the big banks as a result.
Deposits aren't the whole story. I basically ordered the family to dump our Chase and CapitalOne cards this year, in favor of using a local credit union. As much as our focus seems to be on deposits, those are liabilities on a bank balance sheet. Loans, like credit card debt, are the assets.
The question, again, is not what happens this year , but over time. A slight dip in deposits, or credit card transactions, won't be noticed. Since its purchase of Merrill Lynch during the 2008 crisis, Bank of America is basically a casino player, a trader and not a banker at all.
That's the heart of the problem, as Occupy continues to remind us. Having government-backed deposits sent to the casino to play is a big part of our problem, as a country. That's a political issue that can only be addressed if next year's elections go the way Occupy wants.
But if you turn on your TV and count the ads, you'll see just how difficult that is going to be.