Following rumors of a “bank holiday” that could limit or prevent altogether cash withdrawals later this week, Twitter and other Internet forums were raging yesterday about numerous ATMs across the country that crashed in the early hours of Sunday morning, preventing customers from performing basic transactions.
It’s unknown whether the crashes were partly a result of a surge of people trying to withdraw their money in preparation for any feared bank shutdown, or if mere technical glitches were to blame. The fact that the problem affected numerous different banks in different parts of the U.S. would seem to indicate the former.
The Orange County Register reported that the problems were “part of a national outage” which prevented people from performing simple transactions such as cashing checks and withdrawing money.
The banks primarily affected were Wells Fargo, Chase and Bank of America, but according to blogger Phil Brennan, who studied Twitter feeds and other Internet message boards that were alight with the story, numerous other financial institutions were also affected, including US Bank, Compass, USAA, Suntrust, Fairwinds Credit Union, American Express, BB&T on the East Coast and PNC.
“Twitter is going crazy with reports of ATMs and online accounts going down as of 01:00 hours EST of the 7th of November 2010,” writes Brennan. “This is happening to many banks all across America. Some are trying to say that it is a computer glitch to do with the change in Daylight Savings Time, but I will call BS on this as we manage to put our clocks back over here in the UK without knocking out ATMs and online accounts nationally.”
Brennan questions whether the outages were the first warning shots in a move to “devalue the dollar,” just days after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke sparked an international currency war by announcing that the Fed will buy $600 billion of U.S. government bonds over the next eight months.
Any perceived inability of banks to deal with a sudden demand for cash would undoubtedly place in peril the United States’ triple A credit rating and spark a fresh dollar crisis.
“In the light of what is going on geopolitically, I am still very suspicious about the reasons for this mass downtime of ATMs and Online Accounts, adds Brennan. “There is still a very distinct possibility that November the 11th will turn into an extended Bank Holiday so I would advise all those who can get their money out of their banks to do so, even if you have to pay your upcoming bills manually.”
As we reported last week, the “bank holiday” rumor has reared its ugly head once again, after a story emerged that a pastor was told by one of the managers of a prominent east coast bank that banks would close for an undetermined amount of time, and that when they reopened, “all withdrawals by checks would be limited to $500 per week – no matter what the balance in the account is.”
Though the story is still an unconfirmed rumor, banks have been preparing for limiting withdrawals. As we reported back in February, Citigroup sent an advisory to its customers at the start of the year which stated that the bank reserved “the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts.” The advisory stoked fears that financial institutions were preparing for bank runs.
While we still think this new bank holiday rumor will subside as the previous two did earlier this year and last, in the current economic climate it would be foolish not to keep at least a small amount of your savings in physical cash. The current financial turmoil has been likened with the post 1929 period, during which newly elected Franklin Roosevelt declared a “bank holiday” that lasted four days, therefore such a scenario is not without historical precedent.
Article written by Paul Joseph Watson
November 8, 2010