On today’s Lever Time, David Sirota sits down with law professor and policy advocate Robert Hockett and former FDIC attorney Todd Phillips to explain “The Great Bank Robbery of 2023” — a financial grift that very well could be impacting you. The three explore how this complicated bank swindle has become so prevalent, what federal regulators could do to stop it, and how consumers like you can protect yourself from the scam.

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A transcript of this episode is available here.

The grift goes like this: When you deposit your money at a bank, they should pay you interest for your money. That’s because they make money off of it: Banks lend out your deposits for mortgages and small business loans, or deposit money with the Federal Reserve — all of which generate a much higher interest rate return for the banks. The difference is profit.

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Until recently, banks would pass along increased interest on these efforts to its customers. But over the last two years, as the Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates to combat inflation, banks haven’t been sharing the wealth.

Today, the gap between the profit banks generate by lending out those deposits and what they pay their customers is the largest it’s ever been: On average, banks are paying its depositors 0.4% interest, while reaping anywhere from 5 to 7 percent interest via lending. This has resulted in one of the largest upward wealth transfers in the modern economy, from customers to bank executives.


BONUS PREMIUM POD: Monday's bonus episode of Lever Time Premium, exclusively for The Lever’s supporting subscribers, featured our interview with climate scientist Dr. Andrew Pershing about “attribution science” — a new technique that can pinpoint how manmade climate change influences extreme weather events.

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