Finances: Local banks prove worth

Are some financial institutions “too big to fail” and in need of more accountability? At least Camden R. Fine, president and chief executive officer of the Independent Community Bankers of America thinks so.

And Fine is not alone. A number of smaller institutions, such as the Cattaraugus County Bank in this area, agree with him.

Add to that, our region already has a number of excellent and very responsible small banking institutions, including Lake Shore Savings Bank, Community Bank, Evans Bank and larger institutions such as First Niagara, M&T Bank and KeyBank.

Fine recently commented that the larger financial institutions need to be downsized and split up due to the fact some of the executives running the nation’s largest financial firms – responsible for the last recession – received billions in taxpayer assistance and have not been held accountable.

“These financial firms are so large and so interconnected that they not only have access to lower-cost funding and to a seemingly limitless taxpayer backstop, but they are also immune from criminal prosecution,” he said. “Have we come to a point where we truly have people who are above the law? Are we willing to accept that they are too big to jail? These individuals wrecked our financial system and have been allowed to walk away, bonus checks in hand, like nothing happened, leaving community banks to pick up the pieces under the weight of crushing laws and regulations enacted to halt such reprehensible behavior.”

Those penalized today, it seems, are the loyal and responsible customers who now have to provide more documentation than ever to take out loans. With that being the case, Fine makes some good points.

The system has not been fixed.