In what may be the most damaging blow to Big Banks since the overwhelming success of Bank Transfer Day in late 2011, the City of Berkeley recently announced its intention to withdraw all financial assets from Wells Fargo.
On Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to find a more socially-minded institution to hold approximately $300 million in city assets. Council members said that they hoped the decision would send a very strong message to the Big Banks ultimately responsible for the housing crisis that sent the economy spiraling…
As might be expected, the local Wells Fargo branch was shocked and somewhat defensive following the City Council’s announcement.
“Over the past three years, Wells Fargo has donated more than $3 million to 89 nonprofits in Berkeley… And less than two percent of homeowner-occupied loans in our servicing portfolio have proceeded to foreclosure sale,” said Wells Fargo spokesman Ruben Pulido.
While that may be true on a local level, there is no denying the dubious actions of the Wells Fargo corporation:
- Wells Fargo was a significant player in the subprime crisis. In 2006, the last year before the subprime bubble started to burst, Wells originated or co-issued $74.2 billion worth of subprime loans, making it one of the top subprime lenders in the country.
- As recently as September 2008, Wells still held $48 billion worth of subprime mortgages in its servicing portfolio, making it the nation’s sixth largest subprime servicer.
- Despite its large portfolio of at risk mortgages, Wells Fargo has started trial mortgage modifications for only 11% of its 292,515 borrowers who are eligible for the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program (and are at least 60 days past due). At Wachovia, which Wells Fargo acquired in 2008, the number is even lower, 2% of 74,231 eligible borrowers.
- Wells Fargo put taxpayers on the hook for up to $36.9 billion in bailout funds and programs plus an unknown amount from the Federal Reserve’s $8 trillion in emergency programs. This money was supposed to help the banks get the economy going again. But little of this money has gone to relieve struggling homeowners and increase the flow of credit to small businesses (bullet points sourced via SEIU).
In my opinion, the City of Berkeley is to be applauded for its decision to take bold action against the Big Banks, many of which have yet to face any significant consequences for their negligent and often illegal actions. Let the politicians form their task forces and sub committees. In the mean time, intelligent citizens like those on the Berkeley City Council will continue to take action in the most powerful manner possible: voting with their dollars.
Over the weekend the Velo Cult bicycle shop held a terrific sale with big discounts on bikes and accessories.
The down side: It was a clearance sale.
Sky Boyer is moving his shop and staff to Portland.
“We’re pretty much a Portland store in the wrong city. We’re very commuter-oriented, very city-oriented.”
Velo Cult was at the center of one kind of bicycle culture in San Diego — an urban community of folks who were happy to pedal their bikes from some place, to some place, without having to change into racing garments.
sd u-t, 11.01.12.
San Diego fail.
I would move to Portland, too.
super sad I never visited the shop.
and didn’t know about their Down Townies or Tweed Rides..
now my next chance requires a plane ticket to PDX.
..Still, the rapid growth of in-home accommodations could take a big bite out of hotels’ business. That’s especially true when you consider that much of North America’s existing housing stock was designed for larger families than are common today. One study by Urban Futures in Vancouver, British Columbia, estimated that 29 percent of all homes had more bedrooms than people in them. That’s more than 220,000 empty bedrooms in that city alone. Multiply that across the landscape and you’ve got a massive untapped reservoir of accommodations, already built, painted, furnished, heated (and sometimes cooled), and provided with bathroom and kitchen access.
..channeling travel growth into existing homes rather than new hotels would bring big environmental benefits, as Finnish think tank low2no.org argued in an analysis of the carbon footprint of hotels.
read more: grist.org, 02.02.12.
I’m pretty against airbnb because of the $$$. It’d be useful for if I’m not home for a week or more.. but the free spirit of couchsurfing.. <3
cs is more about people and cultural exchange than just about finding a place to crash.
Vacant office space in Hillcrest to become Walgreens
Originally proposed to be part of a boutique hotel, the vacant building at 301 University Ave. in Hillcrest will become a Walgreens before the end of 2012.
read more: sduptownnews, 06.01.12.
so what, if the boutique hotel thing fell through?
I’m sure there’s some group of creative architects out there that would love to make this place pretty. or upcoming entrepreneurs wanting to set up small shops. (but probably need $$$$)
I should’ve gotten into this stuff earlier and popped in to the Uptown Community meetings.
what I would like: 3-4 story apartment building — ground floor as retail, restaurant/bar, or community space; rooftop garden/park with solar panels.
no one’s got vision here!
Sippin’ on drinks at Urban Mo’s in San Diego’s happenin’ LGBT neighborhood, Hillcrest.. gonna be way more fun staring across at a Walgreens than this!
because we just can’t get enough of big-chain pharmacies!
thanks for accessing the community demands and making the best decisions on our behalf! our urban environment can’t get any uglier!
feelin’ kinda glad I moved out of Hillcrest now..
I went to the bank yesterday to write a check for the remainder of the mortgage on my $8,000 house. I visited the bank — instead of mailing a check — because I thought there might be something they’d give me, or something else to sign…
“Wait, you’re done giving us money? But look at this offer, you could give us more money! Please don’t go.”
It seems like no matter how much you have or what you want to do with it, dealing with money is always a taxing experience. Right now, I have my eyes on credit unions, ING Direct and Dwolla. Member-owned seems great, in terms of credit unions, but at the CUs I’ve investigated, it seems like there are a lot of requirements for maintaining a basic checking account. The online bank, ING Direct, has interest rates which are just as good as CUs — and also has a P2P payment method.
Is this the future of money? I don’t know.
Forgot to post a link to this last night:
This 28-Year-Old Is Making Sure Credit Cards Won’t Exist In The Next Few Years
“We don’t believe in credit cards. We believe in authorization and in lower cost transfers. Our generation actually understands that when you buy sh*t, it comes out of your bank account and you have to pay for that.”
And profit? “If we end up with a profit that’s another perk, but we’re in it for the community,” Ms. Kretser said. The Saranac Lake Community Store and others like it reflect a growing shift among some communities to lessen their dependence on global businesses and invest their resources in homegrown enterprises that contribute to the welfare of the community. These efforts flow from studies showing that, dollar for dollar, locally owned companies contribute more to local economies than corporate chains. That is because more money stays local rather than leaking out to a distant headquarters.
WALL OF SHAME
The Outrageous Top Ten in Alphabetical Order
1. Bank of America took $336 billion in bailouts in 2009, but in 2010, flush with $4.4 billion in profits, it paid no taxes. Even Forbes magazine asked, how is that possible? Probably thanks to their 115 offshore tax havens.
2. Boeing just received $35 billion from our government to build 179 airborne tankers, but despite nearly $10 billion in profits from 2008 to 2010, it too paid no taxes, again thanks to foreign tax havens.
3. Citicorp took $476 billion from the bailout and then made monster profits in 2010, yet it paid no taxes, thanks to 427 subsidiaries in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong.
4. Exxon/Mobil, received huge oil subsidies from the government and earned $45 billion in 2009 but paid no taxes, again thanks to stashing profits in places like the Bahamas and Singapore.
5. GE — see last week’s column for the stats and facts on this corporation’s tax dodge.
6. Google utilizes a technique that moves most of its income through Ireland and Netherlands to Bermuda, making its tax rate 2.3 percent.
7. Mega Pharmaceuticals Merck earned $9 billion in profits and paid no taxes in 2010, while Pfizer (largest drug maker) owed $10 billion in taxes but found the necessary loopholes to pay no taxes, thanks to its offshore subsidiaries in places like Luxembourg and the Isle of Jersey.
8. News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s media monolith that owns Fox News avoids paying American taxes through its 152 subsidiaries in tax havens from the British Virgin Islands to Hong Kong.
9. Verizon, despite making $24.2 billion in pre-tax US income, paid no taxes and actually claimed a federal refund of $1.3 billion for the last two years, again all thanks to those offshore subsidiaries.
10. Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the US, which took $107 billion in bailouts, wrote off all its losses by acquiring Wachovia, thus paying no taxes. Yet its CEO earned $5.6 million in cash for his salary and $13 million in stock.
Sit in @ Charlestown Bridge (in front of Bank of America).
Students Occupy Boston. mon. 10.10.11.