Sunday, September 23, 2007

People of Newcastle try to Save Their Bank

According to the Guardian,

Newcastle's morning paper, the Journal, has a campaign to replenish Northern Rock's depleted assets by persuading citizens to open accounts. Footballers, the rugby team and local entrepreneurs have all had their photographs taken signing forms. Several people who two days before were queuing to get all their money out returned to put a prudently small amount back in.

The Guardian likens it to Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life", where the Jimmy Stewart character experiences the failure of his bank, and is bailed out at the end by the citizens of his town in reward for his kindnesses to them.

It turns out that Northern Rock has been kind to Newcastle. They distribute 5% of pre-tax profits to the Northern Rock Foundation, which finances all sorts of things from homes for battered women to concert halls. The foundation has received £175m from the bank in the last 10 years. Northern Rock has built up goodwill on their home turf.

It's likely that unlike in the movie, the good burghers of Newcastle won't succeed in their quest - they are too few and probably don't have the collective savings to prop up the bank. But it's heartwarming to see them try.

If they did pull it off against the odds, what a tale of community spirit this would be! It might also encourage other firms to do charity work, if the benefits of such goodwill-building are demonstrated clearly.

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