As shareholders, we were going to suggest that the top executives of the banks forgo end-of-year bonuses, but Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s attorney general, was ahead of us. He sent a letter on Wednesday to nine big financial institutions asking for information about their plans in this regard. It doesn’t guarantee that mega-bonuses are finished. But, really, why should we give a dime to executives who had to come to us hat in hand? Better to give an extra buck or two to the guy in the subway with an outstretched plastic cup.
How about a moratorium on new bank branches in New York neighborhoods? The tanking economy will probably take care of that anyway. But an ironclad agreement by the banks to halt further expansion would delight New Yorkers. Many are infuriated as they watch cherished local stores die and give way to impersonal bank outlets, often located within yards of one another. Enough is enough.
Why not forbid any bank receiving taxpayer money to purchase naming rights to sports stadiums and arenas? Citigroup is handing the Mets something like $20 million a year to call their new stadium Citi Field. Surely, the Mets do not need Citigroup’s money — not to mention yours — to keep failing to make the playoffs.
Might we end the procedure by which banks stiff you when you deposit a large check? Often, you are initially credited with only part of the deposit, and must wait a few days to gain access to the rest. Meanwhile, the bank is using the withheld portion to pick up a few bucks for itself. Check-clearance times have been speeded up in recent years. But why shouldn’t depositors be able to get at their money immediately, all of it?
For that matter, why must bank customers pay several times to retrieve cash at an A.T.M. (known to some as short for Always Taking Money)? If you use an A.T.M. at a bank other than your own, that bank usually charges you a fee. Fair enough. But your own bank also charges you for the same transaction. So you pay twice for the privilege — no, make that the right — to withdraw your own money. How is that?