Are the populists taking over the world?
One rabble-rouser, Arianna Huffington, has concocted a remarkable stunt, which she calls the Move Your Money Project, to rally consumers to transfer their deposits from big banks to small community banks across the U.S. Alas, there's no run yet on Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), or Wells Fargo (WFC). But the Move your Money campaign--which the blog queen dreamed up with her pals at a holiday dinner--now has more fans on Facebook than any of those money-center banks.
That's 8,000+ Facebook fans. MoveYourMoney.info, the campaign's website, has attracted 3.9 million page views.
Right now, there's an opportunity--a bona-fide business opportunity--to hit consumers where they hurt (their pocketbooks). And grab them by their hearts, from which fear and anger brew. Have you seen those ads for Ally Bank? They're everywhere. And they project an image of a small, friendly place to deposit your savings. Ally, in case you don't know, is owned by GMAC, the auto and home lender once owned by General Motors that has been propped up three times by U.S. taxpayer dollars. GMAC's CEO is Mike Carpenter, one of Sandy Weill's lieutenants at Citigroup in the '90s.
Meanwhile, in England, there's Richard Branson, who has already shaken up the status quo in industry after industry, from music to telecom to airlines and beyond. Now he's honing in on retail banking in the UK, where the old-line institutions have had their reputations scuffed just as in the U.S.. Through his start-up, Virgin Money, Branson just agreed to buy a regional lender called Church House Trust. And he reportedly plans to use the acquisition as a platform to build a retail banking network.
Beyond banking, where do the populists thrive? Politics. On Tuesday, the New York Times' David Brooks wrote an op-ed, "The Tea Party Teens," about Americans' anxiety about the future and our fleeting faith in institutions. We know about the tea party movement--which Brooks calls the "flamboyant fringe" of conservatives who are anti-big business, anti-big government, and anti-pretty much everything else that concentrates power.
But did you realize how mighty this movement is? A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 41% of Americans have a positive view of the tea party movement--vs. 35% positive view of Democrats and 28% positive view of Republicans. Long live the populists. At least in 2010.
by Jessica Shambora
The drama continues apace in banking. Yesterday we shared a CNN interview with Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit, as he struggles to hang on, while Pattie last Friday gave her take on the fall of Bank of America's (BAC) chief risk officer, Amy Brinkley -- a veteran of Fortune's Most Powerful Women list.
Another top woman in banking -- one of the few still standing -- swung by our MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jun 10, 2009 4:12 PM ET
"The world's looking for a new business model."
-- Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit, defending his leadership, in an interview with CNN Tuesday. During the past week, news media outlets have reported that FDIC Chair Sheila Bair thinks Pandit lacks the retail banking experience to revive Citi and wants him out. Meanwhile, others speculate that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner believes that Pandit deserves a shot at the turnaround and that a MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jun 9, 2009 5:38 PM ET
"We were considered carpetbaggers. The other bankers wouldn't let us in their circle and certainly not in their country clubs. So we formed a family with our own associates. It was us against the world."
--Ken Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America (BAC), from a 2005 Fortune profile by Shawn Tully. Lewis shocked the financial world for a second time this year, announcing Sunday that BofA would acquire Merrill MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Sep 16, 2008 6:08 PM ET
Interesting to see Bob Rubin giving up his big title, chairman of the executive committee, at Citigroup (C). His new title: senior counselor. Citi contends that Rubin's day-to-day duties, which center on advising the company's board and executives, remain the same and that eliminating the executive committee is just an administrative change to simplify things. The committee's power, which was to act for the board between meetings, now transfers to MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 27, 2008 2:27 PM ET
|5 reasons why Yahoo is making a $1.1 billion mistake|
|Yahoo buys Tumblr, promises to not 'screw it up'|
|Amateur investors tap 401(k)s to buy homes|
|Tesla's fight with America's car dealers|
|Merger Monday on Wall Street|