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Move Your Money (to Safety)

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  • Move Your Money (to Safety)

    Move Your Money (to Safety)



    Disgusted with the Too Big to Fail mindset in Washington and on Wall Street, many are joining the Move Your Money movement, taking personal action in hopes of reducing the power of the big banks. If youíre of a similar mind, take pains to select your new bank or credit union carefully. A small bank isnít necessarily a safe bank.

    The latest bank closed by the FDIC was the 1st American State Bank of Minnesota, in tiny Hancock, Minnesota. This bank was the 208th bank closed by the FDIC since October 1, 2000, and the 16th closed since January 1st.
    So far, the FDIC has arranged for healthier banks to take over the failed banks, and depositors have had no trouble withdrawing their money when they wanted it. This could change, though, as economic problems continue to mount, with hapless bank customers unable to get their money out.

    The Move Your Money Website includes a link to bankrate.com, a site that allows free, but limited access to their proprietary ratings of banks/thrifts and credit unions. The search form is a little awkward to use, and it didnít find a bank that I wanted to check. Fortunately, the site offers an ďadvancedĒ search, too, and I used that to find the bank. The siteís ratings are from 1 to 5 stars and has a memo feature that provides a rationale for the rating.

    You can also get ratings from TheStreet.com, but be warned, the site is crowded, and the link to the ratings can be hard to find. Itís under Portfolio & Tools, toward the top of the screen. You can also follow this link to go directly to the ratings page: http://www.thestreet.com/bank-safety/index.html. This site uses a letter grading system (A-F range).

    The bank I investigated received an A- from TheStreet.com and four stars from Bankrate.com, not bad. The ratings are only a starting point, though. Catherine Austin Fitts outlines how to evaluate the bankís leadership (management); profitability, safety, and soundness; fees, costs, and interest; and locations and services in an article on her website.
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