Challenge the broken banking system by moving your money
31 January 2012
Guest post by James Angel, used to be campaigns and policy intern
Remember 2008? After decades of unchecked greed and corruption, the neoliberal house of cards finally toppled over, leaving us with the worst economic crisis since the great depression. The big banks have been gambling with our money for years but, as we all know, the costs of the crisis – the unemployment, the lost homes, the austerity measures – have been borne by us.
Since the crisis, public bail-outs to the tune of several hundred billion pounds have quickly secured a return to record profits and bonuses for the guilty banks. At the same time, their destructive activities have only increased. As has been exposed by the World Development Movement, since the 2008 housing crash banks like Goldman Sachs and Barclays have turned to betting on food as a new means of extracting profit. Financial speculation on food commodities markets has pushed up food prices, leaving the world’s poorest people unable to afford to eat.
In its starkest moment of crisis yet, neoliberalism’s true colours have been made plain for all to see: whilst the banks are ‘too big to fail’, people’s lives can slip by the wayside. Challenging the power of the banks is going to require a widespread popular movement for economic justice. We have to make ourselves too big to fail.
How can this be done? There are many inspiring campaigns and groups across the world that are standing up against the power of the guilty banks and financiers whilst promoting fair and democratic alternatives. One such exciting project, launching today, is Move Your Money UK. The project provides an easy way for people to take action against the banks: withdraw your money from them. The idea isn’t that we should start hiding our money under our beds. Rather, Move Your Money encourages us to look to localised financial alternatives like credit unions and community development finance institutions.
Not only does moving your money to these alternative institutions challenge our broken banking system, smaller community institutions and credit unions often provide better rates and fees and more personalised services. What’s more, investing in these local alternatives ensures that your money goes towards boosting your community, as opposed to lining the pockets of the wealthy.
The Move Your Money project has achieved fantastic success in the US. Given the scandal of Stephen Hester’s £1m bonus, it is clear that now, more than ever, people in the UK need to move their money as well.