Bank Fees are going up, whether you like it or not

It’s true, people as a group were able to dissuade the large banks from imposing upfront fees for using debit cards. What many don’t realize is that banks operate for profit and at the responsibility of providing returns to their shareholders. This means that is you stop the banks one way, they will find another way to load you with fees.. and they’ve done just that.

In a recent New York Times article, select banks upped wire transfer fees and depositing online via your phone. The reasoning behind this is the loss of income from overdraft fees and the lowering of the per swipe fee they could charge merchants. I feel bad for any business that is forced to endure such loss, and I’m sure that people are feeling the pinch in these times. So the question remains, is it better for banks to up these “hidden” fees or to just be upfront about the true cost of running a business, turning a decent profit, and giving you the transparency required? The article mentioned tries to answer some of these questions, which is great for everyone to make an informed decision. But I would still like my bank to be in touch with me about this, rather than having to read it in an article.. I am currently still a customer at BofA, but that may soon change.

US Unemployment

I just saw the video below on the unemployment rate in the US, and I have to say I am getting a bit worried. While I do have a job for now, it seems like the situation itself is not getting better. According to Reuters, the real unemployment rate counting part-time employed and those that have been unemployed for more than 6 months is 16%.. Now that’s significantly higher that the unemployment figures that just show new unemployment and counts those with part time work as having “full” jobs.

I went over to the bureau of labor statistics to see how this rate as described by Reuters trended over the past years, but I could not find it. Instead, I obtained this data from another website and I pasted the graph below. It shows this data included in the rate. I find it pretty alarming to see this broad increase over the past few years. What are your thoughts?

Unemployment 10.2% – What does this mean..

Well it looks like unemployment has reached 10.2% on 11/6/09, the highest in 26 years. There is one number that has been decreasing, initial jobless claims filed. What does this mean? Well it looks like companies are not laying off as many people, so new people are not filling claims at the unemployment insurance office. I’ve made a graph below from the Department of Labor statistics:

Initial Jobless Claims

Initial Jobless Claims

Usually initial jobless claims have been a leading indicator of a turnaround in an economy and a recession. While this does not take the sting out of the current situation that we’re in (I might be on the chopping block for a layoff myself), it can hopefully bring some hope to us that things are slowly turning around. Remember that the unemployment rate overall is a lagging factor, meaning that it responds after the fact in a recovery. First, companies will have to start seeing a recovery in the market, followed by hiring, followed by lower unemployment.

Let’s all hope for the best and stop listening to the doom and gloom media reporters.