Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 15, 2009

BURR TALKS UP BANK RUNS.... I'd hoped someone who's been helping write federal law for more than 14 years would know better than to say things like this in public. (via Christopher Orr)

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) says when the financial crisis began he encouraged his wife to withdraw all the cash she possibly could from their local bank.

During a speech on the economy [Monday] night, Burr related his immediate reaction the week the crisis began.

"On Friday night, I called my wife and I said, 'Brooke, I am not coming home this weekend. I will call you on Monday. Tonight, I want you to go to the ATM machine, and I want you to draw out everything it will let you take," Burr said, according to the Hendersonville Times-News. "And I want you to tomorrow, and I want you to go Sunday.' I was convinced on Friday night that if you put a plastic card in an ATM machine the last thing you were going to get was cash."

Now, maybe Burr was trying to be funny, but his comments don't make any sense. Since the advent of FDIC, Burr's family money was safe, right where it was. Calling home in a panic, and withdrawing the maximum, only serves to make a bad situation worse.

But even worse is hearing Burr talk like this publicly to voters who may be inclined to think he knows what he's talking about. The senator wasn't just describing a bank run, he was suggesting bank runs might be a good idea in the midst of a crisis. As Matt Yglesias explained, "Burr's effort to whip people into a panic could lead to runs and bank failures. That, in turn, will lead to people losing jobs. People could even lose their business through no fault of their own other than having customers who chose to take the words of a United States Senator seriously. I'm having a hard to imagining what Burr could have been thinking."

Burr is a vulnerable Republican incumbent, willing to throw around irresponsible rhetoric during an economic crisis. I seriously doubt he was thinking at all.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Jesus, I'd have thought everyone in America, having seen It's a Wonderful Life at least a dozen times before reaching adulthood, would at least have some grasp of what a bank run can do.

Posted by: RSA on April 15, 2009 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing Burr doesn't use his ATM card very often if he thinks multiple trips to the ATM over the weekend is an efficient way to draw all his money out of the bank. Then again, maybe it makes some of his contituents feel smart that they know they can just show up Saturday morning with a hand written check.

Posted by: Danp on April 15, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans know that if Obama pulls this off, they are dead as a party. They have to do everything they can to prevent the Pres from fixing GWB's mess. Spreading FUD about bank failures and encouraging panic is as good a way as any.

Posted by: Disputo on April 15, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

He hearts Grover Norquist, correct?

These ideologically lock-stepped idiots have been trying to drown the federal government in the bathtub for well over 30 years.

I consider it darn close to sedition at this time.

Change is inevitable.
Growth is optional, as you can see.

Posted by: mommadona on April 15, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Taking money out of an ATM really has no effect on anything except when that particular ATM will run out of money.

ATM's often run out of money when an unusual event occurs. For example, a lot of ATMs in Galveston ran out of money before Ike. Of course, they were out of power soon after they were out of money. I don't think anyone was in a panic over Bank of America last September but they all wanted cash in their hands not in their banks.

Posted by: neil wilson on April 15, 2009 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, announce the fact that you have lots of cash at home ... and wonder why your house is robbed a few days later. Idiot ...

Posted by: Doreen Rice on April 15, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Keep talking that crazy talk, Burr, and we'll have a full-democratic senate delegation here in NC in no time!

Posted by: Dave Munger on April 15, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

How do these people get elected?!

Posted by: Otanes on April 15, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that all of the Banks located in CHARLOTTE NC will be happy to hear their senior senator discuss a run on the banks.

Why oh why did the Democrats insist on running Bowles twice for the Senate? Right now, any generic (D) could beat an idiot like Burr, who is considered one of the intellectual luminaries of the hard right.

Posted by: Chuck on April 15, 2009 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Creeping Glenn Beckism............

Posted by: steve duncan on April 15, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans know that if Obama pulls this off, they are dead as a party.

Nah, as Judge Judy says, "beauty fades, but dumb is forever."

Posted by: Danp on April 15, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

One thing to keep in mind is that the FDIC "only" insures a single account holder for up to $250,000. Admittedly, an ATM won't let them withdraw much, but if Burr is as wealthy as most senators, he might actually have enough in checking to make pulling money out worthwhile so he has less in the account above to cap.

Posted by: David A. Spitzley on April 15, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Greetings from Raleigh. Burr is well known in this state not to be the sharpest tool in the shed, so we are not at all surprised by this and the Duckworth stupidity. Burr was bought and paid for mostly by Glaxo(GSK)here in NC. But good news everyone....Burr will not be re-elected because he is more of Doles problems than Dole had and not nearly as cleaver.

Posted by: larry on April 15, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

This behavior is simply indefensible.

Posted by: larmar on April 15, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Burr was a sales manager for a lawn equipment company before joining the Senate. His 2006 financial disclosure shows a small amount of money in Wachovia savings accounts (hey, if I had cash in Wachovia, I'd have pulled it out too!)

Nonetheless, he's got about half a million in IRA funds, plus what appears to be a few hundred thousand in various funds and stock positions, most of which I'm sure have been seriously battered. He'd have done better leaving his savings accounts alone and instead told his wife to go short six months earlier. (His SUNW stock, maybe more like nine years earlier.)

Interestingly, his fin-dis shows two charitable donations made in lieu of honoraria, both from the American Bankers Association. Wonder if they're rethinking his role right about now.

Posted by: tWB on April 15, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Burr is as clueless about banking as George 41st was about shopping in a supermarket. Furthermore, Burr's actions are not only un-American, but treasonous — he was and is willing to participate in the crippling of our economy and the downfall of our country.

Posted by: Mary-Ann Greanier on April 15, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

It was bad enough he stalled Tammy Duckworth's hiring for a while, but this?

Gee, I'd hate to go to a crwded theater with him...who knows what he'd shout?

Posted by: Vincent on April 15, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

OK. So 3 days at a maximum of $600 per day per ATM. He was able to get $1,800 out??? What an idiot!

Posted by: Scott on April 15, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Why didn't he just instruct his wife to go inside the bank, once, and close their account? Stupid is as stupid does, I guess.

Posted by: carsonwa on April 15, 2009 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

""On Friday night, I called my wife and I said, 'Brooke, I am not coming home this weekend. I will call you on Monday..."

Sounds to me like the good senator has someone on the side. Just sayin'

Posted by: disgustedcitizen on April 15, 2009 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

This is stupid.....

1) you are only limited to a certain $ amount per transaction... You can always do multiple transactions at the same machine.

2) you can call the bank to have your transaction limit per day increased to what ever you want.

Posted by: SkiPete on April 15, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

They want this country to fail under Democratic watch. It's their scorched-earth strategy for covering their asses in the history books. If they can't win, have no hope of winning, they're going to make sure it fails.

Posted by: Chris Joseph on April 15, 2009 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Just like a republican to do something inefficient... If she would just go into the branch she could take out ALL her money at once!

Posted by: Dave on April 15, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Honey I'm not comimg home this weekend and to keep your mind off who I'm doing.....

Posted by: ckerst on April 15, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

These ideologically lock-stepped idiots have been trying to drown the federal government in the bathtub for well over 30 years.

I consider it darn close to sedition at this time.

I consider it outright treason. David Stockman, Reagan's first budget director, publicly stated that the deficit was being deliberately run up in order to make it politically feasible to reduce or eliminate social programs that the voters favored and supported. Think about that for a moment. The economic health of this country was being consciously risked in order to further a short-term partisan goal.

I'd call that treason.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on April 15, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Typical republican.

Posted by: dick c on April 15, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

I can sum up the good Senator's reckless behavior in one sentence. He is practicing economic treason. Gatorray 15.

Posted by: Ray Cohn on April 15, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Now wait a minute. I have supported and encouraged bank runs too - but ONLY on the big banks stealing our money in the billionaire bailout.

Local banks and credit unions are the good guys here and should not be run but Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan-Chase should ALL be run. Since the federal government wont shut them down and nationalize them, the people must by running on them and defunding them from below.

I did my part. I made my run on Bank of America and sent all my money to a local credit union instead. Do the same. Not all runs on banks are equal. Some deserve to be run (in to the ground).

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on April 15, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Burr will not be re-elected because he is more of Doles problems than Dole had and not nearly as cleaver.

I certainly hope so, since I've always told people "It's 'Cleaver' like a meat axe - nice and sharp." :-)

Posted by: TCinLA on April 15, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Would it be wrong to do nothing and let Texas leave the US, wait until we think they are ready to officially form a new country, invade, conquer and hold all their citizens as enemy combatants and never give them a trial, as they are not citizens of any country and are not protected under the geneva convention?

obviously i am joking but the irony would be sweet.

Posted by: mark on April 15, 2009 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Burr's ignorance is astounding!

Most Bank ATMs have a $400 daily limit, how the hell did he expect his wife to withdraw more than $800 in one weekend?

Posted by: Arliss on April 15, 2009 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

I live in NC and will be so glad to get rid of Burr, the Tammy Duckworth fiasco finished me, I was really happy that as soon as those of us inundated his office with emails he began to backtrack. He is and always will be useless.

Posted by: JS on April 15, 2009 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Way to go Dick. You were a contributing factor to the silent run on Wachovia, a NORTH CAROLINA bank, which forced them to sell to Wells Fargo.

I am going to join the campaign of your competitor in the next election to personally see that you don't receive more than 1 vote west of I-95. If you do get that vote, I will lose faith in my home state.

Posted by: NC proud on April 15, 2009 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Here are your instructions, honey, and "I will call you on Monday." Yes, that's what every wife wants to hear from their hubby after a work week away from home. The ol' senator sure does have a way with the ladies.

Posted by: Todd B. on April 15, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Regardless of his personal financial disposition, this isn't as crazy as it might sound.

The FDIC does guarantee up to $250K. What it doesn't protect us from is currency inflation and bank holidays (which have both happened in our history). Have some amount of cash at home is a smart move. Maybe not all, but some, yes.

Posted by: PRF on April 15, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Good for Burr. Coordinated bank runs would be one of the best ways to put pressure on the banking kleptocracy. Without organized popular disruption, your assets, your savings, and your future earnings will be confiscated and given to the bankers.

Posted by: kropotkin on April 15, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

since none of us really know the status of funds in the economy these days[think of how the fed decided to hide m3 from us], and since the derivatives exposures of the large money center banks have yet to be revealed, and since the fed has refused to inform the public as to what amounts of funds were disbursed to what entities, and since a number of little banks are being closed by the virtually insolvent fdic, there remains the distinct possibility of a nationwide bank holiday. that could last for more than a few weeks.

since the money center banks are also the major issuers of credit cards, in any bank holiday, i think you could expect for all credit card transactions to be terminated.

so, it might be wise to have 30-90 days of cash on hand just to prepare for such an eventuality. it won't cost you anything - banks aren't paying any relevant interest.

just pray that the straits don't become so desperate that the usg declares a bank holiday, such a course of action would be phenomenally disruptive.

on the other hand, the obombya regime has revealed that its major focus has been on liquefying money center banksters from their bad[and possibly illegal] gambling ways.

and the obombya regime has really proposed no transparent correctives....has not called for the restoration of glass-steagal, has not called for a public marketplace for derivatives[and other toxic gambling instrumentalities], etc. in fact, so far, one would have to conclude that the obombya regime has operated as some kind of branch of the money center banksters.

the way i view it, if the obombya regime really wanted to lubricate the exit from this recession, it should have just sent every filing taxpayer[single or jointly] $50,000.

but, that course of action would take care of the people. and that is not what this regime is really about.

Posted by: albertchampion on April 15, 2009 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK



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