remember all those crazy overdraft fees you received last year? well, the test case has finally been brought before the court involving the Financial Services Authority, the 6 major banks, and the Office for Fair Trading. It is proceeding at an excruciatingly slow rate, though, and what they have determine so far is that these overdraft fees are "not exempt from being assessible for fairness". i really do not get law. so what does happen? they look at something that goes on in the past to determine if it's right or wrong? well, i suppose in a certain superstitious kind of way that's better than having a judge decide on a whim.

anyway, i'm happy that the army of well paid lawyers the banks have paid for are the beneficiaries of our overdraft fees, which will keep the banks honest. i can only hope that the fees are refunded to both me AND the lawyers, which will make the banks net losers from this stunt. (by the way, these were unarranged, e.g. i was charged £50 for accidentally going to -5£ in my account, which is an unacceptable rate of interest). complaining works if it's based on principle and you don't expect your money back immediately. this is a classic example of political economy. people don't complain because the gains are diffuse (£50 each) while the banks have an intrinsic interest to protect themselves because their losses are huge, even though the sums involved are the same on both sides.

i am worried about being too harsh on banks though. i realized today that i am their pimp. i was walking around with my debit card trying to draw money at various atms. i couldn't draw any money out of any of the other banks atms so i thought maybe there was a glitch with the interbank clearing system. i walked a long while to find a hsbc machine to see it was out of service. a thought flashed into my mind: "oh no, bank run". this was in the context of bank shares sliding (AGAIN) amidst news that they may have to recapitalize AGAIN. (bear in mind that there was already a run here on Northern Rock before the government stepped in) but they have branches in singapore, so they can't fail! they're too big to fail. but i was relieve to find that their branch was open after another long walk although only one machine was open. part of me still suspects they were trying to limit withdrawals. still, it's a long time still before i put money under my pillow. i've never experienced a bank run before, and isn't it crazy that we're even talking about it now?

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