Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The irony of those cute Ally Bank ads.

You've seen this commercial. Two little girls sit down with a banker who offers them each a pony. After giving one girl a plastic toy, he trots out a real live horse for the other girl, an example of the fine print and complicated terms of most banks:

What the commercial neglects to mention is that Ally Bank is the Internet arm of GMAC, which this morning is requesting a third government bailout. So Ally plays the good guy, by offering rates above the competition - SOLELY due to the government backing them up, because as the "financer" of necessity to the politically connected auto industry, they get all the money they want.

Other healthy banks are livid to see this kind of advertising, let alone the higher interest rates, from a bank who's business model failed and now relies on taxpayer money. From a Bloomberg article earlier this month:

“The government has created an artificial competitor,” said Christopher Whalen, managing director of Torrance, California-based Institutional Risk Analytics and creator of the IRA Bank Monitor, which rates the health of banks for consumers. “Every bank in the U.S. is at a disadvantage because our government is picking losers as winners.”

“It’s irritating for the community banking industry to see someone who has failed in their business dealings now turning around and saying they are so smart,” said Paul Merski, chief economist of the Independent Community Bankers of America in Washington, which represents almost 5,000 banks. GMAC’s rates “are way out of line with the rest of the industry.”

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