False Hopes

by David Gluzman

First and foremost, I have to admit I’m not an economist and I don’t know all that much about the markets. However, when I recently looked at the top 15 Fortune 500 companies in Canada I was a bit aghast. Banks…

Savings, cheques, loans, mutual funds, stocks, businesses, and pretty much anything in this world is controlled by banks (perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but you see my point).

I remember as a kid I was once explained that I shouldn’t collect my money in a shoe box or under my bed because it wasn’t safe and there were better alternatives. That day the word “interest” was ingrained in my mind. Money that grows! WOW! I give the bank my allowance and over time it will grow to be worth tones more. Now as a child this was the most fascinating thing about money I had ever heard.

I remember just like it was yesterday when I went to my bank to open my business account. Dressed sharply in a suit and treated respectively by the bank tenants would be my first recollection. Then the fun started after that. After having a seat and explaining all my business needs to the bank, the bank proceeded to tell me how banking works for “business” accounts. For the next 15 minutes I proceeded to loose all my respect (or little there of) of banks. “In exchange for our banking services we will: Charge you $10/mth for bank operations, charge you $1 every time you access your account, charge you $1 every time you write or deposit a cheque….” And so on and so forth. To top it off the account will incur 0.00% interest! All my childhood understandings about banks were officially shattered.

While I was growing up I did notice that even with all the money I was putting into my savings account I wasn’t getting much interest. I guess my parents forgot to tell me that having $100 at the bank didn’t yield much interest. Guess I shouldn’t have spent that 20 cents I made all at one time.

Anyways, back to my initial topic here… Out of the 15 companies in the fortune 500 for 2001, five of them were banks, CIBC, Royal, TD, Nova-Scotia, and Montreal. Their revenues for the year were over one-hundred-two-billion-dollars, that’s right $102,000,000,000. What in the world is going on? You tell me.

I have a pretty good idea why the banks are making so much money, and I’m sure you do as well. How did “we” as society start to accept all theses things banks do, in particular surcharges! I believe that the banks make enough money on our invested savings that the service should be free (or a heck of a lot cheaper). So, are things ever going to change? Do we still live in a democracy? Can we “the people” promote change?

  • False Hopes
  • by David Gluzman
  • Published on August 1st, 2001

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