>Western Tribune Column October 8 2008

>Welcome to Banking’s Musical Chairs

It makes you wonder: Who’s buying Wachovia? Maybe by the time this is printed we will know in this dizzying version of musical chairs.

First it was a solid bank. But it seems it was just waiting in line, as if only one financial institution per day could announce trouble. By the time Wachovia’s turn came around, they already had a suitor. They even had the help of the Feds, as the FDIC supposedly brokered the deal.

I didn’t think much about it at the time, but I thought the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was in the business of insuring our deposits. Who knew they were brokers as well?

So the first deal was with Citigroup. Now Wells Fargo says they are buying Wachovia. Or part of it, who knows?

Wells Fargo? Do they transport their money in stagecoaches? In competition with the Pony Express?

Regardless of what my bank is called next week, or next month, I have a suggestion. I see that the Wachovia branch near UAB West on 9th Avenue is scheduled to close in November. The next day, the branch at Colonial Promenade Tannehill is opening.

What makes them think that the people who live near the Bessemer Super Highway will drive all the way to McCalla to cash a check? And do the many businesses near Academy Drive want to send employees that far to make their daily deposits?

Bessemer is large enough to have three branches of the bank with the largest presence in the city. I can just see the little stagecoaches triangulating the city.

One thing I feel sure about. The money we have in banks here in Alabama is safe. State banking officials have said so, and I believe them. And congress and the president are enacting the largest rescue in history. No need to run to the ATM machine.

Opinions vary on the rescue, and no one offering an opinion, including myself, has all the information they would need to predict whether the bailout will really stop the bleeding or prevent it from happening again.

But most people do believe that without it, things might get worse as far as credit and financing goes. And with a little luck, the bailout will turn into a profitable gamble, making us taxpayers some money.

Not that we would see any of it, but that’s no surprise, is it?

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