I know that somewhere, George Bailey is smiling. You remember George, don't you? He's the richest guy in town, if your town happens to be Bedford Falls. If you're living in Southern California and you've got money in a savings and loan, you probably don't care if George and his Uncle Billy are in charge or not. You just want your money before it all disappears. Hundreds of people have crowded outside IndyMac Bank branches this week, many waiting hours in line to withdraw their funds from the failing bank that was seized by federal regulators.
While hundreds of frightened customers waited for days in the summer heat outside their local IndyMac bank to get as much of their money out as they could, employees of rival Comerica Bank arrived to hand out water bottles with their business cards taped to them. They said they hoped to scoop up some former IndyMac customers. Sounds like something Mister Potter would do.
Where did their money go? IndyMac was in an unusual situation because it had an "extremely risky" exposure to assets, says Stuart Plesser, a banking analyst for Standard and Poor's. "Their specialty was no document or low-document loans," he says, meaning borrowers didn't need much proof of income to get approved. Most banks hold a more diversified portfolio of loans. It's in your house, and your failing business, after all, cries George Bailey, standing on the counter.
Or maybe not, but these are desperate times, and one hopes that if there are angels who are up to it, this would be an excellent time to start earning those wings.