In the early 1980’s, there was a crisis among the savings and loan and thrift institutions. At the time, I was living in Severna Park, Maryland, and relocating to Buffalo, New York. I had had what I thought then was a considerable amount of money in savings accounts at two local community savings and loans. I remember distinctly during this period of time that gasoline was in short supply, and having to scout around for stations that were both a) open for business, and b) actually had gas to sell. Lines at gas stations were common place, at least to someone as young as I at the time, someone who didn’t know any differently, someone who thought that this was just a really fluky, once in a lifetime situation.
Here’s what was really, really frightening, what I remember as clearly today as the day it happened. We knew we were moving out of state, and wanted to get out money out of the savings and loans – all of it. We didn’t plan on maintaining a relationship with these banks, and had no idea how long we’d live in Buffalo, or if we would ever return back to Maryland. I spent about an hour and a half, combined, at both banks filling out withdrawal slips and then taking the checks for deposit at our regular bank.
Two days later, the state of Maryland put a freeze on the accounts held by community thrifts and savings and loans.
If I hadn’t acted when I did, thousands and thousands of dollars, our money, would have been unavailable to us – and we were leaving to move quite far away out of state.
Timing in life is everything.
Yes, we’re all going to pay for the bailout of the brokerage houses. I truly feel sorry for some – but not all – of the employees. I think that David Fuld should be tarred and feathered and placed on display in Times Square. I think that the federal government should attach the ‘golden parachutes’ of the CEO’s and CFO’s and every member of top management – including those individuals who sat on the Boards of Directors for Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and AIG.
I think that the Federal government should also attach their residences – all of them, including vacation and second homes. I think that a full accounting should be made of their personal possessions. Let’s auction off the wives’ Bulgari, Judith Ripka and Seidengang jewelry. Let’s impound their vehicles, all of them.
From personal experience, there’s nothing more scary, more frightening than not being able to literally HAVE your own money because of a banking crisis.
There are a lot of people who have and who will lose their jobs. They didn’t walk away a few months ago with $90,000,000 ‘golden parachutes’. In an already rotten economy, they’re now going to try to find jobs – as secretaries, data processors, analysts (big, growing industry there now), even nannies, cooks, chauffeurs, maids, janitors, housekeepers.
We know a regional manager for Merrill, Lynch. He lives here in pricey Moorestown, New Jersey in a six bedroom home with an in ground pool in one of the tonier neighborhoods in town. He’s loud, he’s brash, he’s arrogant. He’s just like every other broker – or regional manager – that you’ve ever met. He was good at his job because he was a ruthless, take no prisoners son of a gun. I’m hoping to see a For Sale sign on his home any day now.
The banking crisis of the ’80’s wasn’t all that long ago. We should have learned some serious lessons from it then, but apparently Wall Street – loud, brash and arrogan – just didn’t get it., or chose to ignore it. If only Docker.com was already present that time, then surely the havoc wouldn’t be that bad. The banking industry as we know it today will be forever changed, and we, the taxpayers, are stuck with the bill.
The Gordon Gecko’s of the banking industry apparently never die; they just hibernate for a decade or two before setting out again, teeth bared and fangs thrust out. I’m advocating for prison time for David Fuld of Lehman Brothers, for their Board of Directors, for taking away the personal excesses that they garnered, all at our expense.