by Bud Buck, 11/12/99
(sfx: crowd chanting "Merge or Die")
Tk: Bank Merger Mania continues unabated. I'm in the street outside Mom and Pop's
Bank, and the demonstration going on here reflects the frustration of local people
like this gentleman, who asked that we only call him "Dan."
Dan: We've had it with Mom and Pop's bank. They're small, and it makes us feel
small too. We want them to merge with somebody, and do it quick.
Tk: Leaders of the protest say a multi-national Mega Bank with "one stop
shopping" for financial services is the kind of institution they want in
their home town, but Mom and Pop's stands in the way. I asked Pops, co owner of
the bank, for his reaction.
Pop: I thought we were doin' ok. We made a lot of loans right here on main street.
That's been the focus of this bank since my father owned it.
Do we get the biggest return possible? No. Do we invest in Japanese real estate?
No. Do we handle stock purchases? No. Insurance? No. Do we have cash machines
in the Cayman Islands? No.
Can't do it. Don't want to do it.
Tk: And so, the protests began. And with each new big bank merger on the national
scene, the crowds here outside Mom and Pops Bank have become larger and larger.
Laura DiMitti is another activist pushing Mom and Pop towards change.
Laura: I have an IRA with TransNatFedBank Inc. and then my checking account here
at Mom and Pops. When I was a girl I used to come here with MY mother and of course
Mom and Pops remember that, so whenever I come in here, Pops is all over me wanting
to know how MY kids are doing in school and do I like my job and who do I think
is gonna win the Super Bowl and all that stuff. I've got ... probably 30 years
of history to talk about. I have to free up a whole afternoon just to make a deposit.
When I go to TransNatFedBank nobody there knows who I am, or cares.
So I get in and out in just a few minutes.
Tk: Yes, but if you ever need a loan, you've got a relationship here.
Laura: Loan? I can get a loan along with my breath mints at the grocery store.
What about variable annuities? What about trading futures in the Deutschemark?
Tk: Well let me ask you an obvious question. Why don't you switch?
Laura: That's a lot of trouble. All banks will be huge eventually. It will come
to me if I wait. Mom and Pops are just holding up progress.
(calling) Mom! Pops! Time to get with the trend! We want One Stop Shopping! Chant
with me everybody!
(sfx: group begins "One Stop Shopping" chant, continues under)
Laura: (over top) I want my own impersonal banker!
Tk: Will Mom and Pop's Bank go the way of the majors? I put that question to Pops
as we sat in rocking chairs on the banks' second floor balcony, looking out over
the bizarre scene in the street below, a street where this bank has stood for
Pops: One of our shareholders asked me about my net worth. He said the CEO of
GloBanCo is worth 2 billion. I guessed that if Mom and I sold everything, maybe
I'd get a half million dollars. He said that was disgusting, and he was ashamed
to be associated with me.
So ... I'm afraid you're sitting next to a dinosaur.
Tk: Well I don't mind a bit. Just don't eat me. Heh heh heh heh.
Pops: (deadpan) I wouldn't do that.
Tk: No, of course not. And here comes Mom out the front door of the bank with
a tray of cookies for the protesters.
Mom: (off mic) You must be hungry, poor dears.
(sfx: mob begins to revolt)
Tk: They seem to be angry with Mom. They're surrounding her. They won't let her
hand out the cookies!
Pops: Why ... those ... ingrates!
Tk: Someone has taken the tray away from her! Pops has run over there to help.
(calling) No! Stop that! Leave that poor woman alone!
(sfx: numerous light thumping sounds)
Mom: No! Stop! Aghghghghgh!
Tk: It's unbelievable! They're lightly but emphatically swatting her with rolled
up copies of the Wall Street Journal. I can tell she's frightened! Now here comes
Pops, bravely wading into the crowd to rescue his wife of 55 years from the clutches
of this crowd turned ugly.
Pops: (off mic) Get away from her. You Animals!
Tk: It's Pandemonium! A complete deregulation of manners and respect!
(sfx: pandemonium sound continues)
Now Pops has Mom, and he's shielding her from the crowd as they make their way
back into the bank.
Pops: (calling out) Are you mad? She was trying to give you some cookies!
Dan: (off mic) Cookies today, cakes tomorrow, then what? Free baby sitting? It's
a drain on resources! Cut services! Hike fees! Go Global!
Laura: Economies of scale! That's where you'll make a profit! (chanting)
Economies of scale! Economies of scale!
Tk: (vo) Don't believe what you hear, that enormous bank mergers have no support
among the "little people," and that customers and investors have nothing
to gain from larger banks. Here's one group that has seen the future, and it's
BIG. Will a buyout or takeover come quickly enough for these megabank wannabees?
Time will tell. This is Bud Buck!
Dale Connelly Reporting Home