Big, Strong & Friendly … no more.

WARNING! ANGST POSTING AHEAD. Proceed without caution.

Banks. You can’t live without them, you definitely can’t trust them and soon, you may have to run away from them.

Yesterday’s press was littered with news about credit problems, unemployment and retrenchment news and people facing financial difficulties because they over-extended their financial limits via credit card spending or easy-credit systems. And still I get calls from banks asking if I am interested in getting subscription-free credit cards with no qualifying criteria as if everything was hunky-dory and that this recession is nothing to worry about.

Before I start bitching, allow me to tell you where all this frustration is coming from …

Being an ex-bankrupt, I am one of many discharged bankrupts that are on a blacklist that is monitored by an independent body, formed by banks and financial institutions that keep track of people like me. Whether the government endorses this or not, I don’t know but I was informed by my Official Assignee that upon my discharge, I am a free man … but not in the eyes of this independent ‘watchdog’ entity. This entity stops former bankrupts from getting credit cards, housing or car loans and even stops us (ex-bankrupts) from opening Fix Deposit Accounts for investment purposes. They don’t even entertain a case-by-case background check. They have an outright ban that is so efficient that within seconds of submitting an application, I get rejected. Not only is this exasperating, it is also downright humiliating that I teach people to manage their finances and that so many people trust me for my financial advise but I don’t have the trust of my own country. So much for being ‘free’.

Now I am really going to get ugly and dig … no, shovel the shit out by the truckloads …

I have been monitoring with great disdain and deja vu, the familiar growing trend of Chapter 20 filings in the Notices of the Classified Ads. More and more notices of Mr So and So versus Mr Credit Institution are appearing where Mr Credit is taking Mr So to the cleaners because Mr So obviously could not pay his debt.  Everywhere else in the papers, it is obvious that the downturn is taking its toll. The main topic in yesterday’s ST is about big spenders who have six-figure debts on their credit cards! And let’s not forget that we’re still not out of the woods yet for the toxic products that were sold to so many losers and losers to be, including our own Town Councils.

Firstly, let me just say that such ill-managed spending habits are just not acceptable and is the responsibility of the credit card holder. So the question is why are the institutions encouraging a bad situation to get worse? How come, such an efficient watchdog of ex-bankrupts can’t organize or won’t do anything about collectively monitoring and warning consumers about their spending habits? Why are these consumers allowed to run their debts out of control? I am sure that with their efficient system, there must be a way to monitor the accumulative debt of individual consumers so that any one bank is able to know how much of a debt this person is cranking up and then help this person’s spending habits by instituting curbs and restrictions till the debt is more “controllable”. It’s simple; the consumer has to submit a payslip for qualification for the credit service. Why are the banks allowing the consumer to spend more than 10 times their monthly income and worse, allowing the consumer to roll the debt to accumulate interest? I am also sure that the banks are aware that many “borrow” from one card to pay the debt on another. So why isn’t anything being done by the institutions to help curb what is fast becoming a nasty trend? (Of course I ask that in absolute naivety.)

More shit … it’s ironic that former bankrupts are denied loans for their homes. If there is anyone deserving of a home loan credit, it’s a former bankrupt. Most have learned their lesson and are unlikely to repeat their mistakes to become a bankrupt again. Even more unlikely is the possibility of messing up their home loan, especially when you consider that the home is also collateral. Yet, people like me can’t get a loan for my home. Same goes for the car I’m driving … I couldn’t get a loan so it’s either full in cash or use someone else’s name. It’s like wiping your arse with used toilet paper! You tell yourself that you’ve cleaned your arse but the shit is still there … you just can’t see it … but it sure stinks.

Banks were once a safe haven where people went to put their money to feel safe. They were once places where saving money was a priority and where bankers were risk adverse and only invested in minimal risk portfolios that  were wisely hedged against unforseen risks. Banks were a place where one could make their money work with reasonable interest rates and decent fix deposit returns. Banks made us feel good because they were big, strong and friendly.

Today, this safe haven is a hell-hole where our money is safe only when the government says so. Rather than saving, we are now encourage to spend without care that you are living outside your means, where bankers encourage savers to take on high risk portfolios with unnecessarily high leverage in a high risk market. Interest rates suck today so that savers have to make their money work by putting them into toxic products where you can lose everything.

It is such an effective influence that even our Town Councils are counting their losses now. I wonder who these “Advisors” were and how are they accountable for their recommendations “late last year” when I was advising everyone to stay away from financial stocks and products. Who is going to pay for this loss? I may not know much about politics but doesn’t the voting citizen have a say about how public money should be spent or invested? I know it’s easy for everyone to use retrospect to cruxify the Town Councils but those who know my postings will know that I am speaking from past quotes.

Remember I made a posting very recently to remind you to watch the trend in vehicle ownership? Just look at today’s papers … it’s already begun because the Repoman is working harder than usual. Expect the same trend in the housing market for those who bought new properties this year. With most of the TOPs for current projects in 2010/2011, expect a number of buyers to start defaulting on their second or subsequent payments as the economy worsens. Having bought their properties at a high, they will be desperate to recoup their investment as the property market drops. Speculators who can’t afford to carry on the payment program will default and help to plunge property prices through a marriage of demand destruction and fire-selling. And guess who gets to repo the property and re-sell it?

All this will happen much sooner than later.

Greed is such an effective selling mechanism and if there is one thing that will never change, it will be Man’s use of public greed to market and make a buck.

Lastly, I am going to shit on the entity and the banks for not using their efficient system to filter out those who don’t qualify for credit services to STOP COLD-CALLING ME TO ASK IF I AM INTERESTED IN THEIR SERVICES WHEN I WILL OBVIOUSLY BE DISQUALIFIED FOR IT! Stop wasting my time and stop calling me unless you really want my business. In the meantime, I will keep my money in the only place that made me feel safe since I was a child pasting stamps in a scheme that encourage young Singaporeans to save.

Banks, … can’t live without them. Remember that we’re in this giant mess because banks got greedy. And it would seem that they still haven’t relented and it’s obvious that nothing is going to change.

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