Move Your Money 20 Goes After The Big Money

Isaiah J. Poole

The “move your money” movement made a lot of noise a few months ago by encouraging individuals to close their accounts at the big banks at the root of the financial crisis. That movement is now well into what Ilana Berger, the co-director of New Bottom Line, calls “Move Your Money 2.0″—getting large organizations and governments to either hold banks accountable or deposit their dollars elsewhere.

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Ilana Berger of New Bottom Line answers questions about the effort to get governments and large institutions to move their money from the banks that refuse to be held accountable for their roles in the financial crisis.

The goal is to require banks that receive deposits of public dollars or dollars from community institutions to abide to a higher standard of conduct when it comes to their lending practices and how they deal with home foreclosures.

Move Your Money “was for us an incredibly exciting and important movement for us in an of itself, but for us it was never the end, but it was a piece of moving this broader set of campaigns and activities to transform our economy,” Berger said in an interview.

Move Your Money 2.0 has its sights on some large targets. Los Angeles is close to enacting a responsible banking ordinance that would require the city to only do business with banks that meet certain standards for how they deal with foreclosures and community investment. Kansas City, Mo., has already passed a similar ordinance.

In New York City, legislation has been introduced that would require banks to submit a community reinvestment plan and progress reports that will be used by the city’s Banking Commission to rate banks that want to hold city deposits.

And, according to New Bottom Line, city councils in Austin, Texas; Boston, the Bay area (San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.), Chicago, Minneapolis, San Jose, Calif., and Portland, Ore. are also considering responsible banking legislation.

New Bottom Line has also gotten pledges from churches and other nonprofit organizations to move more than $100 million out of such banks as Bank of America and Chase.

In addition to its Move Your Money campaign, New Bottom Line is helping to plan direct action activities at the Bank of America and Chase annual board meetings, to keep the pressure on these banks to change their practices with regard to underwater homeowners, community lending and paying their fair share of taxes.

The website moveourmoneyusa.org offers tools activists can use to organize “move your money” efforts in their own communities.

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