“Whoever Was Prudent, Is Always the One Who Has to Pick Up the Pieces”

(p. A3) “We like a nice, gentle, upward slope,” said Donald E. Goetz, the president of DeMotte State Bank, an 11-branch operation in the northwest part of Indiana.

“This kind of growth, like you see in the stock market” — Mr. Goetz ran his hand through the air, tracing the shape of a mountain range — “that doesn’t interest us.”
. . .
Mr. Goetz, who was wearing a tie and a short-sleeve shirt, started as a teller at DeMotte right after he graduated from college in 1976, and he’s been president since 1988. He is a stolid guy who, when asked what he does for fun, offered two words: “Yard work.”
He sounds somewhat aggrieved. His bank, which opened in 1917, didn’t make any subprime loans, nor did it take any bailout money. Even when bank stocks were soaring, not one of his 246 shareholders needled him to earn more than the 3 to 4 percent dividend that DeMotte has generated for years.
. . .
“We had three or four people panic,” he said. “A couple of them said, ‘It’s not the bank. We just don’t trust the government.’ And I told them, ‘If the government fails, the money you’re taking out of this bank won’t be worth anything.’ ”
Mr. Goetz, like a lot of his competitors, is livid about the mortgage shenanigans born of the securitization craze. But he thinks his public relations problem had many authors.
“The media, Congress, the president, everyone just keeps saying ‘the banks, the banks, the banks,’ like we’re all the same thing,” he said. “Well, we’re not all the same thing.”
. . .
At DeMotte, Mr. Goetz is bracing for a steep increase in a crucial overhead cost: the bill from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is basically an insurance fund underwritten by banks.
Last year, DeMotte paid $42,000 into the fund. This year, because of failures in other parts of the country and particularly among national banks, that sum will rise to $500,000 or more.
“Isn’t that the American way?” he says, folding his arms. “Whoever is left standing, whoever was prudent, is always the one who has to pick up the pieces.”

For the full story, see:

DAVID SEGAL. “We’re Dull, Small Banks Say, and Have Profit to Show for It.” The New York Times (Tues., May 12, 2009): A1 & A3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

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