Finally heard somebody on NPR bring up "It's a Wonderful Life" this morning when talking about the IndyMac bank collapse. it started in Pasadena last week, a town full of the old rich; It's old California, with a very upscale facade trying to be a bit like Bedford Falls. Many depositors there, one is quite sure, have much more than the FIDC-insured $100,000.
People literally pounded on the glass doors of the Pasadena branch and jostled upstreperously in lines down the block: "inline and enraged," before dawn even today, according to a "Day to Day" reporter this morning in Santa Monica.
Oh for the days when Jimmy Stewart made it all right, cajoling his customers to take $20 at a time from his honeymoon stash: he took time to talk them out of their panic. It ain't working in Pasadena and elsewhere. Too many Mr. Potters, perhaps? And people are saying no matter what they're being told, they don't trust the gov'mint. Whaaa???
"I don't understand our government, I don't understand how it got this way, and I'm really pretty unhappy -- and the people at the top don't think anything is going on...but don't get me started," one customer in line spat out. "This is a travesty -- this was supposed to be the safest place," one guy waiting on a lawn chair added.
My dad, whose family lost their Indiana farm in the Great Depression partly because his father disastrously speculated on "hog futures," forever thereafter hoarded cash. He felt secure only if he had about $10,000 in Franklins tucked away in various hiding places that he took pride in designing in his woodworking shop. When we sold his house we always worried we had not found all his caches, though we dug rolls of greenbacks out of five different places. Lately I've found myself hoarding cash like my old man. But if the whole system collapses will cash even matter? I'm even hearing a six-pack of Budweiser has gone up a buck over the past year.
My favorite part of that Jimmy Stewart shot above is the crow -- one of the smartest birds -- overseeing the negotiations. Maybe IndyMac needs a resident bird -- not, of course, the canary in the coal mine which one suspects expired at least a week ago.