In a year when American financial behemoths rake in a record $171.3 billion in profit, the big three — Wells, JPMorgan, and BofA— chose to shake down poor people for a whopping $5.4 billion in overdraft fees.
In 2017, that works out to about 183 million charges of $35 a pop. That's a 270 percent increase from the $1.97 billion reported in a 2006 FDIC study. A study in the UK last year showed that bank overdrafts were 8 times more costly than payday loans.
Scandal-ridden big banks likewise charge exorbitant fees from our state and local governments. Big banks have been caught red handed in bid rigging, bribery, and myriad other scams to take money from states and municipalities.
Meanwhile, in the first quarter of 2017, the 10 largest bank holding companies in the US plowed over 100% of their earnings into share buybacks and dividends to prop up share prices and fatten their bonuses. That money was not used to expand lending.
As Matt Taibbi asks, why do gangster banks keep winning public business? The time is now to cut off these behemoths from the spigot of public money. A Public Bank would cut out these middlemen, eliminate their fees and steep interest rates, and return control of their own money to the people.