Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

650,000 Americans Joined Credit Unions Last Month — More Than In All Of 2010 Combined | ThinkProgress

650,000 Americans Joined Credit Unions Last Month — More Than In All Of 2010 Combined | ThinkProgress: “One of the tactics the 99 Percenters are using to take back the country from the 1 percent is to move their money from big banks to credit unions, community banks, and other smaller financial unions that aren’t gambling with our nation’s future.

Now, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reports that a whopping 650,000 Americans have joined credit unions since Sept. 29 — the date that Bank of America announced it would start charging a $5 monthly debit fee, a move it backed down on this week.”

Now there’s an interesting thought.

The South African equivalent of a credit union was a building society, but the building societies all went commercial, turning themselves into banks in about 1987.

Building societies specialised in one thing — lending money for building and buying houses; in other words, mortgages. It was something they were actually quite good at, and something commercial banks are very bad at — much of the economic crisis of the last four years or so was caused by American banks playing fast and loose with mortgage finance.

So the news that Americans are moving their money to credit unions might herald the beginning of a return to sanity.

As I understand it, a credit union is like a general putpose building society, lending money not only for building and buying houses, but for other things as well. I believe that, like the building societies, they are cooperative rather than commercial.

Can South Africans do the same thing?

Are there any building societies left? Perhaps this is their opportunity to make a come-back. If anyone reading this knows of any South African bulding societies, please post a link in a comment. And revived building societies could even help to solve the housing shortage.

There are, of course, stokvels, but they usually have to keep their money in commercial banks, with the ever-increasing bank charges. I saw that my bank now charges R25.00 for a cash withdrawal.

That’s a good and sufficient reason to move my money to a building society… if there was one.

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