News that GE Capital is getting into the retail banking business by purchasing an online bank from MetLife not only shocked analysts; it shocked the market. And not in a good way as far as GE's concerned. The company's stock dipped following the announcement on Tuesday -- MetLife's share price rose with news that it was dismantling its banking unit in an attempt to escape regulators' profit-squeezing grasp -- and that in turn suggested that GE's new adventures in banking are being frowned upon down on Wall Street. Reuters says that the "speed of the move took some analysts by surprise, as it has only been three weeks since GE said it wanted to start taking bank deposits from consumers." But do you know what else is being frowned upon down on Wall Street these days? Banking, in general.
Big banks' stocks are all suffering (especially Bank of America's) now that the costs of paying the government back for the Recession they helped to instigate with their shady business practices. And after being evicted from Zuccotti Park, the deeply motivated Occupy protesters have set up shop in an office at 60 Wall Street, spitting distance from the New York Stock Exchange. As whispers of the movement's imminent demise continue to float through the surrounding streets, at least one pundit thinks now might be the right time for those in the Occupy office to consider a classic if-you-can't-beat-em trick. Why doesn't Occupy just open its own credit union? The Nation's Carne Ross makes the suggestion and then immediately explains the challenges Occupy would face:
It’s easy to list the characteristics of an ideal "Occupy" bank. Setting one up is rather harder. The legal and institutional obstacles to establishing a new (or de novo) bank are formidable and would require years of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. One alternative therefore might be for Occupy to partner with or even acquire a bank that is already established and that shares our vision. Indeed there are many small banks around the country which might be amenable -- community banks, or so-called "triple bottom line" banks, which aim for community development and positive social and environmental impacts as much as profit.