Economics

It’s Coming: The Government Wants to “Help Manage” Retirement Accounts

(Mike Krieger)   Many people, including myself, have discussed this threat over the past several years.  The obvious concept is that when the government runs out of money, or they face a drying up in interest for its debt, they will come for the $19.4 trillion in American’s retirement accounts.  It seems that day may be finally drawing near.

I stopped contributing to my 401k back when I worked at Bernstein, and I will probably now have to give more serious consideration whether I want to take the penalty and move the funds out of my retirement account entirely.  I haven’t made any decisions, but will be watching closely.

I’m sure the government is just trying to protect your retirement account from terrorists.

From Bloomberg:

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is weighing whether it should take on a role in helping Americans manage the $19.4 trillion they have put into retirement savings, a move that would be the agency’s first foray into consumer investments.

“That’s one of the things we’ve been exploring and are interested in in terms of whether and what authority we have,” bureau director Richard Cordray said in an interview. He didn’t provide additional details.

The bureau’s core concern is that many Americans, notably those from the retiring Baby Boom generation, may fall prey to financial scams, according to three people briefed on the CFPB’s deliberations who asked not to be named because the matter is still under discussion.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Labor are the main regulators of U.S. retirement savings vehicles and funds. However, the consumer bureau — established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act — sees itself as a potential catalyst for promoting a coherent policy across the government, the people said.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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It Will Take The Fed Seven Years To Deliver 300 Tons Of German Gold

(ZERO HEDGE)   With the market yet another algo-controlled snoozer, programmed to close the S&P just green (as otherwise confidence in central planning may fail), the key things we learned today are as follows:

Obama proposed 23 “gun controlling” executive actions, which do little to actually control guns – that part falls to Congress, where the proposal will be promptly killed – but which will add some $4.5 billion to US spending, and which will “push for further action on his health care law, including insisting on the kind of mental health coverage states must provide under their Medicaid programs.”

The breakdown of the spending is as follows, per Weekly Standard:

  • $4 billion for the president’s proposal “to help keep 15,000 cops on the streets in cities and towns across the country.” (That is roughly $266,000 per police officer.)
  • $20 million to “give states stronger incentives to make [relevant] data available [for background checks] … “$50 million for this purpose in FY2014”
  • “$14 million to help train 14,000 more police officers and other public and private personnel to respond to active shooter situations.”
  • “$10 million for the Centers for Disease Control to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.”
  • $20 million to expand the National Violent Death Reporting System.
  • $150 million to “put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job.”

What can one say: politics, fully, theatrically and embarrassingly “endorsed” by the children sitting behind the president.

* * *

But the biggest news of the day comes from the official Buba announcement that, in its official capacity as a prudent central bank, it – as first of many – is looking to repatriate some 300 tons of gold from the New York Fed. That, however, is not today’s news – that was Monday’s news.

What is news is that courtesy of the supplied calendar of events in the Buba statementit will take the Fed some seven years to procure Germany’s 300 tons of gold. This is the same Fed that, in its own words, holds some “216 million troy ounces of gold” or some 6720 tons, in its vault 80 feet below ground level.

Putting the above in perspective, the amount of gold that Germany will have to wait 7 years for is shown in red. The amount of gold the Fed supposedly holds, is shown in yellow with a shade of tungsten. Why it will take the Fed 7 years to part with an amount of gold that is less than 5% of its total holdings is anyone’s guess…

unless of course, the bulk of the gold in the column on the right has been rehypothecated numerous times to serve as collateral for countless counter-parties, and it is no longer clear just who own what to anyone.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-01-16/it-will-take-fed-seven-years-deliver-300-tons-german-gold

Equifax Sells Private Information To Debt Collectors In ‘Biggest Privacy Breach In Our Time’

(HUFFINGTON POST)   Financial information is considered by most to be very private, but that isn’t stopping one credit reporting agency from sharing it without your knowledge, according to a report by NBC News.

Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies with one of the most expansive private databases of information, has accumulated the salary and employment records of more than one-third of U.S. adults, according to NBC. In turn, the agency has sold some of this information to debt collectors and other financial service companies. That data can make debt collectors’ jobs easier by giving them access to information individuals thought only their employers knew.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Inflation already rampant, article describing how inflation has silently and slowly invaded all sectors of business

Author: Silence DoGood

Inflation of the US Dollar or fiat Federal Reserve note currency will not come like a typhoon but more of little waves beating on a rock slowly dissolving and polishing it until the rock turns to sand. What I am saying is inflation on basic everyday food and other items will come slowly and these are some of the tactics of inflation being done underground to prevent a panic or outrage. Some classic examples are quietly adding more fat to food to make eating less a more obese fattening experience while lack of proper nutrition grows like in third world countries therefore people will learn to accept being told what to eat and eat less while having growing deficiency in all basic nutrients, changing the packaging to be more flimsy and more cheaper, slowly reducing the amount of food people get at feast food and regular restaurants while quietly raising the prices while making out like they still have good deals to keep people believing that fast food and other restaurants still have good deals while the obvious is that prices are going up and the amount of people pay good money for is decreasing everyday while obesity is going up without an explanation, food superstores or supermarkets are slowly and quietly making their snack packages such as chips and peanuts and even most of other products in smaller packages or still sell them in big packages with the snacks half filled making people think they pay a good price when they open the snack bag it has hardly any chips or any other snack quantity, prices have been slightly raised along with the reducing of package quality and quantity of food within every package, and in some cases even the name brand snacks such as Little Debbie and other awesome brands starting to give out yucky snacks that used to be tasty years or months ago in other words food quality and ingredients in snacks and food are being reduced, reducing the size of drink containers at fast food restaurants while still charging the same price or even raising the prices along with the reduction of drink container size where the consumer has less when they refill their drink then taking it out to go, and the last common tactic is fast food restaurants all across the country are now scamming people for money by denying any honoring of coupons they make people believe have any use to them or in some cases charging more for what people were told costs less and in some cases people are scammed to pay extra dollars for the exact same product they paid that very same price for only months ago then the corporates just make out like if you don’t like their service you should leave when the reality is they scammed their very customers as if their life depended on scamming people now in certain occasions.

In almost every business sector you may have noticed products being made in foreign countries, falling apart over little things then the technician makes out like you damaged the product then refuses to provide a replacement or even repair of the broken product due to it’s poor quality, and you wonder if you think your mentally crazy for believing that only at one time you used to be able to eat more without getting as fat as you are now, that products were built better and made better with better quality and that under a good price you can at least have a decent product to last a few years instead of a few months, and that the underwear you just bought now has holes within months of wearing them when years ago you still had underwear you had worn over a few years with possibly hundreds of washes and still pretty good. Even shirts are breaking apart more sooner then they used to years ago. The facts are simple, you are not crazy, you are not imagining things, this article will bring some good stories, good pointers, and even show some evidence backing your suspicions that rapid inflation is taring apart consumerism substituting quality with poor quality, nice packaging for lousy packaging, quality service for terrible service filled with foreigners from Mexico and other countries as workers, the usual honoring of coupons and deals with scams and arguing with the cashier products being made in America with products being made in third world countries under poor conditions, more food and other product quantity of product per package with less food and other product quantity per package (8oz being reduced to 7oz), and last but not least the prices of food and other products all going up in price. The worst of it is that it gets worse every year and one day you should expect restaurants to stop honoring coupons entirely after they make you print them for the bargain, expect paying ten bucks per hotdog and ten bucks per cup of orange juice or that the box will be smaller to the point where it cannot even feed a family a of three or even two without food assistance programs such as food stamps but even then it is still hard to make it. All this is because of you guessed it the Federal Reserve private banking institution that is more worse for our country and economy then a standing army.

Some McDonalds whether privately or even corporate owned not honoring coupoins or Monopoly stickers they give out on their own large cups you pay good money for

So first of let’s start with the McDonalds scam not far from Myrtle Beach and South of the Border in South Carolina. For those whom buy large drinks and even sweet tea, they get these Monopoly game stickers and even with a janitor briefly mentioning about winning the game or affirming the McDonalds Monopoly game when that game isn’t around at any other McDonalds. Then you get two stickers with a “Instant Winner” label on them saying you get free medium fries or even that you can get any breakfast restaurant at no cost with the exception of McMuffins. You go up to the cashier that you just paid a lot for your fast and supposedly cheap meal, with the coupon saying you like to get your free fries then the cashier tells you “We’re sorry but we stopped this game a while ago. I’m sorry!!!” then as you leave you start cussing up a storm hoping you won’t get arrested for wearing in public angry that that exact McDonalds not far from South of the Border just scammed you and made you believe that the Monopoly game is going on when in reality it isn’t then refusing to even honor their coupons. The coupons even said they even expire at around 11/05/12 which is November 5th 2012, wait a minute…. why was McDonalds giving out large cups with the Monopoly game stickers all the way on December 4th deceiving people that these stickers with “Instant Winner” coupons have any meaning then tell the excited winner that they don’t even win a single medium fries with McDonalds used to sell fries in the same quantity as medium for a buck at the dollar menu then all of the sudden the fries that are a dollar aren’t even worth paying a dollar for as they won’t fill up the hungry which means you have to buy more burgers just to fill up the same hungry belly that used to be satisfied with more food and paying less at places like McDonalds. This is actually a true story and happened right on December 5th near South of the Border but the complainant is deciding to remain anonymous and even showed me the McDonales Monopoly coupons as proof that McDonalds scammed him. McDonalds didn’t used to scam people but as the dollar inflates to very high levels, crime will start to take place in legitimate businesses, people will steal and even do much worse just to have an excuse to end up in prison to be clothed and fed with showers and a nice warm bed, and restaurants will begin to cut corners by almost any means necessary like with what happened with that customer whom ended up with worthless Monopoly coupons while they sold the very McDonalds cups today with Monopoly stickers which expired around November 5th 2012, something is wrong here isn’t it.

Here is the proof of the customers claims. This is a McDonalds Monopoly sticker with a offer for Medium Fries with the term “U.S. Instant Win!” that was on a large drink given by a McDonalds Employee on December 05, 2012 yet the sticker expires on November 05, 2012. Is McDonalds actually allowing that regional McDonalds to scam their customers with expired Monopoly coupons making many customers angry when they are told the truth at the cash register while selling large drink cups with Monopoly game stickers. Hopefully McDonalds will respond to this embarassment for their business establishment where many McDonalds now are cutting corners by any means as a way to vamp up their stock market losses due to the failing economy and rising inflation of the dollar due to the fiat currency of the Federal Reserve.

The reduced ole Burger King or BK Breakfast Muffin they bragged would be cheaper then the McDonalds McMuffin and have eggs, sausage, cheese, and of course the two buns all for 99 cents

McDonalds Restaurant ain’t the only restaurant conning people and cutting corners by whatever means or even reducing their sandwiches to around the quality and quantity of that of a Krystal burger you know those tiny burgers that are often quite expensive. Burger King had announced a great new product to compete against the McMuffin by McDonalds which is the BK Breakfast muffin where frugal fast food spenders will now have the right to eat a breakfast burger with real sausage, egg, and cheese without paying an arm and a limb for it. Last time I went to Burger King to get a BK breakfast Muffin with egg and cheese with the sausage, I was charged an extra $1-$2 and I demanded to know why their $0.99 breakfast muffin had inflated that much, they told me that the charge was legitimate and that I couldn’t do anything about it. What they didn’t tell me in the Burger King cutting corners Scam, similar to the McDonalds Monopoly Sticker scam near South of the Border not far from Myrtle Beach, SC, even to the point of turning medium scale fries into kids meal fries at the dollar menu, the charge at Burger king the extra $1-$2 was only for the egg, for only ONE EGG, FOR ONLY A THIN SLICED EGG FOR THEIR BK BREAKFAST MUFFIN, and when I called another place the employee said you pay more for a half an egg on their muffins. That was the last time I had ever bought a BK Breakfast Muffin and was shocked at the sharp inflation of fast food in almost every business which includes Wendy’s with food size and quantity reductions similar to McDonalds and Burger King, and even other fast food places I cannot remember that is increasing their prices while we eat less for paying more.

Taco Bell Two Dollar Deal becomes the Three Dollar Deal!

Here is the Taco Bell Two Dollar deal that has either become the Three Dollar Deal or the type of taco or burrito is slowly reduced to a slightly smaller size giving people less to eat for the exact same price or for even a more higher price. Remember these dollar deals give you what is usually more expensive so imaging paying a lot for a reduced taco.

Here is the Taco Bell Two Dollar deal that has either become the Three Dollar Deal or the type of taco or burrito is slowly reduced to a slightly smaller size giving people less to eat for the exact same price or for even a more higher price. Remember these dollar deals give you what is usually more expensive so imaging paying a lot for a reduced taco. Of course you think your crazy and lost your marbles when you have a good reason to believe your taco or Gordita Supreme has got slightly a bit smaller since last time you ate at Taco Bell. Same as the other restaurants where food is slowly and silently being reduced without complaint by the brainwashed general public that is too busy worrying about their jobs, sports and porn, and other matters that aren’t as important as seeing all the food you love being reduced and tasting terrible after many years of good food that has now all the sudden being reduced to the size of Krystal Burgers or tasting rotten.

Here is the STAR Snacks nuts that is being reduced from a big container to a small container which I have witnessed with my very own eyes grocery shopping at Dollar General Market.

The STAR Snacks brand that usually sells for very cheap at a Dollar General Market store all of the sudden slightly goes up in price then the container is converted from big to small with a 1/4th to possible almost 1/2th of a size reduction not to mention even the full containers may not be filled 100% with healthy nuts that you paid for.

It used to be pretty big containers then reduced to ones the width of a pringles can with stacked chips. Now when you buy these small cans, instead of reporting 16oz as in the picture found above, now the peanuts which cost anywhere from $1 to $2 per can has only 5oz, yes you heard right 5oz when it likely used to be way more per can.

So now 5oz of peanuts which used to be way more not to mention the price going up at the cheapest grocery stores in America. What a Great Deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The reason people are not making a stink about all this is because they are being domesticated like dogs, like cats, like sheeple, where you keep feeding that stray dog until the dog gains your trust then feed the dog less and less until the dog is fine with eating 10 percent of what he used to eat in the dog bowl because the dog has been feed for so long that the dog cannot hunt naturally anymore, in other words that dog is dependent on bowl food forever while the food being eaten is not enough for a sustainable lifestyle. If the dog cannot find another source of food to eat then the dog will most likely slowly die and thin out thus making that dog desperate enough to do whatever the master wants or the dog will die of starvation. You owe your soul to the company store!

What more proof do you need that inflation is rampant and is already affecting businesses and communities all over America with a vengeance. Almost every cafe, shop, business or small business you hear the employees and even in some cases the owners complaining about the lack of tourists, lack of customers, and in most cases they have to rely on large scale purchases just to survive without dipping into the red in the monthly or even quarterly budgets.

When my friend traveled around Myrtle Beach while on vacation he saw the breakfast dinner at a hotel or resort, many resorts even one he stayed at with a good price, hotels, and even many restaurants and small stores within the main area of Myrtle Beach had not many visitors and most cars parked there being only employees. Even at Broadway at the beach many cashiers are now rude when you ask for a simple cash exchange to feed the fish and seagulls there, saying things like “I’M SORRY!!!! YOU HAVE TO BUY SOMETHING BEFORE YOU GET ANY QUARTERS IN CHANGE!” or “I’m sorry our business doesn’t do exchanges from dollars to quarters!” and when you ask for their cheapest price they look at you like a alien like they expect you tp pay bundles of money. This was the treatment throughout several small shops found by my friend at Broadway at the Beach. One restaurant there even charges almost $3 for a simple drink that normally would cost $1 to $2 anywhere else. Even one place he visited he said that at a pretzel shop the employee there was saying things like “The pretzels are soon done, we’ve got some combos over here if you want to buy something” and sounded kinda nervous like pitching a passerby to buy something. Either the attitudes are a little kindness and pity, to absolute desperation, to even rudeness and refusing to allow people to buy some cheap nicknack expecting people to pay an arm and a leg at their shop while refusing to exchange dollars to quarters just to feed the seagulls and other birds using the feed machines there. When he first arrived he even had to ask another person just walking by where he could find a shop that allows coin exchanges and the person be nice enough to actually offer to give some of his quarters for a dollar in exchange when it should be the businesses doing so as it likely gains them more money in the long run with doing little kind things such as not being rude and doing simple coin exchanges. The whole issue ain’t all about the coin exchange refusals but surrounding many small store owners desperate and afraid of going bankrupt that they are doing whatever possible to entice people to buy from their shops while when you walk in them you see hardly any people at any stores especially in malls.

In fact malls don’t want news reporters exposing how bad the economy is getting with many of their small shops going out of business by placing “No Photography!” rules inside indoor shopping malls so that people don’t get pictures of all the abandoned stores which proves how bad the economy is. Even with photography prohibited people can still witness which stores are out and even draw maps as a way to depict how much shopping malls are losing money.

This whole article ain’t about bashing McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Broadway at the Beach shop owners working hard to make a living, nor bashing STAR Snacks or any other company brands. This article is just here to highlight how bad everything is getting simply due to inflation of the American dollar. Inflation leads to paying more for less and lack of wealth and prosperity. Who should get the blame for every business owner and customers misery and headaches these days? Obama!! Nope!! Try the private Federal Reserve system that has big banks controlling and producing, inflating and deflating, raising and lowering interests, and controlling the very currency system that every business and individual in America relies upon. Upon inflation, more money is printed for whatever reason whatsoever therefore the fiat value of the dollar is lowered since there is more money beating demand. As the value of the dollar goes down, many hard workers, industrial factories, and store workers feel the need to get paid fairly for their service and/or product or even trade. So prices are raised to get the same value for the product as it was before the inflation and it is done one way or another.

People must realize that the economy is bad, no matter what the newspaper and Television Media tells you, no matter what the government and politicians tells you, the real economists and journalists are watching the government system like a hawk and know whats really going on. They know things are not getting better with every year of changes but is getting worse and worse by he day. Any day now food riots will become a major event all over America, many more homeless people will be flooding the streets, and the economy will collapse with people throwing money in the streets as money becomes worthless just as what the Holy Bible scriptures says in Revelation. What more can I say?

Even around 11 minutes into a Alex Jones interview with Pastor Lindsey Williams on “Obama to Tax Middle Class into Oblivion!” listen for two minutes as Alex begins to admit that food packaging is getting smaller and that meat is getting thinner which was why I had decided to write a article about this. Americans are now being reduced by the government and mega corporations on a large scale until they are reduced under absolute despotism

Watch the video below:

Olive Garden, Red Lobster to Cut Hours Instead of Giving Health Insurance

(Paula Forbes)   Darden Restaurants, Inc., which owns omnipresent suburban chains Red Lobster and Olive Garden, is gearing up to deal with new federal health care requirements. According to the AP, the restaurant group — which employs 180,000 people at over 2,000 restaurants — is running an experiment in four markets that increases the number of part time employees. (Darden isn’t giving out specific numbers at this time.) This is an effort to curb full time employees, as the federal government — because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) — will begin fining employers for not providing basic health coverage to full time employees starting January 1, 2014. It also means servers at Red Lobster now manage four tables at a time instead of three, in case you’re wondering why your endless popcorn shrimp refills were taking so long.

http://eater.com/archives/2012/10/10/olive-garden-red-lobster-to-cut-hours-instead-of-giving-health-insurance.php

Denny’s To Charge 5% ‘Obamacare surcharge’ and Cut Employee Hours

(DAILY MAIL)   President Obama’s election victory ensured his Affordable Care Act would remain the centerpiece of his first term in power – but that has left some business owners baulking at the extra cost Obamcare will bring.

Photo by blakespot via Flickr

Florida based restaurant boss John Metz, who runs approximately 40 Denny’s and owns the Hurricane Grill & Wings franchise has decided to offset that by adding a five percent surcharge to customers’ bills and will reduce his employees’ hours.

With Obamacare due to be fully implemented in January 2014, Metz has justified his move by claiming it is ‘the only alternative. I’ve got to pass on the cost to the customer.’

Read full article

TSA uniform perks more expensive than Marine Corps

(WASHINGTON EXAMINER)   Under their new collective bargaining agreement, Transportation Security Administration officers get to spend more taxpayer money on their uniforms every year than a United States Marine Corps lieutenant can spend in a lifetime.

“TSA employees will see their uniform allowances nearly double to $446 per year,” the House Transportation Committee noted in a press release on the TSA’s new collective bargaining agreement.  “By comparison, a combat Marine Lieutenant receives a one-time uniform allowance of $400.  The cost of the increase in TSA uniform allowance is an estimated $9.63 million annually.”

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., faulted TSA for failing to streamline its bureaucracy or address criticism of security failures, such as the recent inspector general report on the failure to screen checked baggage at the airport in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“While we must respect employee rights to be represented by organized labor, TSA has failed to represent the flying public and has missed the mark on improving procedures and protocols while focusing on tie tacks and tattoos,” Mica said in a statement today. “Even though the army of TSA screeners has reached a labor agreement, it is my prediction they will never be happy while they must deal with this gigantic and often mindless bureaucracy. Many of these hard-working TSA workers are being left in the lurch.”

TSA has about 44,000 employees, who voted 17,326 to 1,774 to ratify “their first-ever collective bargaining agreement, giving them more say in what they wear on the job, the shifts they work and the time off they take, whether they can change from part-time to full-time work or back,” The Star-Ledger reported today.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/tsa-uniform-perks-more-expensive-than-marine-corps/article/2513111#.UKAb8Ib5Nt3

Banks falsify credit card lawsuits in 90 percent of cases?

(RT)   US credit card companies have been churning out lawsuits and improperly collecting debt from consumers 90 percent of the time, at least according to a New York judge who deals with these cases.

Lawsuits produced by credit car companies to recoup unpaid bills often rely on inaccurate documents, incomplete records and generic testimonies from witnesses who repeatedly testify, the New York Times reported. The companies often sue clients for more money than is owed.

“I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can’t prove the person owes the debt,”said Brooklyn civil court judge Noach Dear. The judge told the Times he sees as many as 100 such cases a day.

By “robo-signing” documents, banks “robotically” mass-produce similar papers for different clients, without properly reviewing them. In the process some of the papers get falsified.

Lenders often try to collect money from clients who have already paid their bills. Other times, they increase the lenders’ debt by unfairly adding fees and erroneous interest costs.

Some clients claim they don’t owe anything, but most disagreements come from credit card companies conflicting with clients about how much is rightfully owed.

But in 95 percent of lawsuits, the credit card companies win – even though the lawsuits sometimes include falsified credit card statements produced years after the borrowers fell behind on payments.

A former JPMorgan Chase employee admitted that nearly 23,000 delinquent accounts had incorrect balances.

Taryn Gregory said she was sued by Discover for more than $7,000 in credit card debt, even though she had only accumulated $4,000. Upon examining the lawsuit, the Times found that the documents said they were produced in 2004, even though the advertisements on the bottom of the page were from 2010.

American Express borrower Felicia Tancreto was sued for $16,000. She admitted having fallen behind on payments, but contested owing that much. After attending court, the judge dismissed the lawsuit for lack of evidence.

But in most cases, the borrowers do not attend court, causing the lenders to win 95 percent of the time.

“Our concerns center on the fact that debt collection lawsuits are a pure volume business. The documentation is very bare bones,” said Tom Pahl, assistant director for the Federal Trade Commission’s division of financial practices.

The extent of the “robo-signing” is not known, but the erroneous lawsuits have been a problem for years. In April 2011, JPMorgan Chase & Co. abandoned over 1,000 debt collection lawsuits after their bank documentation was questioned by courts.

But unless lawsuit victims defend themselves in court, suspicious judges suspect the credit card companies will continue to get away with overcharging their clients.

“I do suspect flaws,” said Harry Walsh, a superior court judge in California. “But there is little I can do.”

http://rt.com/usa/news/credit-companies-debt-clients-594/

Is the era of free checking accounts over?

(THE WEEK)   Facing new government regulations and a lackluster economy, the financial industry is forcing customers to pay more just to park their money at the bank.

“If free checking accounts were animals, they’d be on the World Wildlife Fund’s list of endangered species,” says Catherine New at The Huffington Post. This week, industry trade group Bankrate reported that only 39 percent of checking accounts in America are free (meaning they require no minimum balance and don’t charge a monthly fee). The free checking account used to be nearly ubiquitous — clocking in at a high of 76 percent in 2009 — but banks have been cutting back their largesse in a bid to squeeze more money out of customers. Here, a guide to the trend:

Why do banks need more revenue?
New government regulations and a struggling economy have eaten into bank profits. President Obama’s 2010 overhaul of the financial system, which is meant to protect consumers from bad banking practices, curbed the ability of banks to charge customers overdraft fees. Major banks have tried to offset the losses in numerous ways, most prominently by trying to charge customers for using their debit cards, which was met with a severe public backlash.

How much does a checking account cost now?
Bankrate found that customers on average had to keep a minimum of $723 in their accounts to avoid a fee, which is up 23 percent from the previous year. The average monthly fee for a non-interest checking account is $5.48, up 25 percent from 2011. Bank of America, for example, is planning to charge certain customers between $9 and $25 to keep a checking account. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are considering similar measures.

How can customers avoid paying a fee?
Bankrate advises bank customers to set up direct deposit, which banks sometimes accept as a substitute for a fee or a minimum balance. However, that doesn’t help people who work part time. In those cases, Bankrate recommends moving to a bank or credit union with free checking. Analysts note that 70 percent of large credit unions still offer free checking accounts.

Will customers switch banks?
Probably not. “Changing banks entails the hassle of rerouting direct-deposit payments and uprooting automated bill-paying arrangements,” says Robin Sidel at The Wall Street Journal. “Many bankers are pushing ahead with the new, higher fees in a bet that customers won’t switch.

http://theweek.com/article/index/233833/is-the-era-of-free-checking-accounts-over

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