Aug 10, 2020

Where the Big 3 Banks Stashed $25 Billion—Revealed!

To prepare for business defaults, Chase, Citigroup and Wells got crafty

By Ed Goldman

In mid-July it came out that during the second quarter of 2020, the three biggest banks in the United States hid away billions of dollars in the likelihood that the pandemic would continue to wreak havoc on the economy, just as it continued to ravage the business, education and maskless-moron sectors.

I was curious to know where these banks—JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, that annoying little brother they have to let tag along—could have stowed as much as $25 billion, collectively. I was guessing it wasn’t in their own banks, since interest rates are awful, even if they opened a bunch of jumbo-CD accounts. 

Then I got a tip from an old friend who washed out as a bank examiner a few years back when it turned out he was showing up for audits with a stethoscope around his neck, carrying a tongue depressor and asking male bank managers to submit to cough tests. (“I was just trying to bring a little levity to the process,” he said at his trial.) He told me to dial a toll-free Zoom number and ask for someone named Sally. When I did so, I was surprised to see a little girl appear on my computer screen. She was wearing a pink dress, had a pink bow in her curly hair and was sitting on the bed in her pink bedroom. She tightly held a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal for the duration of our interview.

Kim Koerner, with whom Ed went steady from 1966-69 and resumed doing so in 2020, guest stars as “Sally”

Sally: Hewwo?

Me: Hi! I’m looking for someone named Sally.

Sally: I’m Sawwy. Who ah you?

Me (failing to stifle a parental grin): Well, I’m Ed, honey.

Sally: Nice to meetcha, Mistew Honey.

Me: No, I mean—Well, why don’t you just call me “Ed?”

Sally: Oh, I cuhnint. My mommy and daddy would be vewwy upset. They have me tweat ah the gwown-ups that come to ah house wif the gweatest wespect.

Me: That’s very nice, Sally. Speaking of those grown-ups, do they happen to be bankers?

Sally (to Pooh): What’s that, Winnie, you siwwy boy?

Me: Uh, Sally—

Sally (back to me): Oh, I’m sowwy, Mistew Honey. Winnie wikes yaw name. He jus’ toll me so. Winnie wuvs honey!

Me: So I recall. —Um, Sally, why do these bankers come to your house? To see your parents?

Sally: No. T’ see me!

Me: You? Why would they come to see a little girl, as bright as you obviously are?

Sally (puffing her cheeks to pout): Not widdle.

Me: No, I’m sorry. What I meant was—

Sally: I’m faw. How old ah you, Mistew Honey?

Me: Well, I’m four, also. In fact, I’ve been four about 17-and-a-half times. But listen—

Sally: They wike my mattwess.

Me: Your mattress? Who? The bankers?

Sally: Yeth.

Me: Why do they like your mattress?

Sally (momentarily dropping the kiddie voice and sounding like an announcer): I guess because it’s a Serta Perfect Sleeper Elkins II 11” Plush Euro Top Mattress®.

Me: So?

Sally (resuming her kiddie voice): That gives ‘em pwenty of space undewneath to put 25 biwwion dowwahs.

Me: Wow! So that’s what they’re doing! And what could be safer than keeping your money under a kid’s mattress?

Sally: Nuffin.

Me: Uh, Sally—if I were to send you a few hundred dollars I won in a poker game, would you be able to stash it for me?

Sally: Yeth. Would you wike a weceipt, Mistew Honey?

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).