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The “Great Big Quivering Gelatinous Invertebrate Jelly of Indecision”
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That quote is what London Mayor, Boris Johnson, recently called Prime Minister Gordon Brown in issuing him a political challenge . . . but I’ve re-purposed it here as it pretty much sums up my feelings about a certain governmental agency. As you might have read in a recent Orlando Sentinel article: Emergent National Bank (ENB) will NOT be moving forward at the present time. Yes, you read that correctly. The national bank we have spent over 15 months forming (that would acquire MCC and keep as a very profitable division of ENB) has ceased its organization. Quite candidly, we have spent considerable time and money on this, only to be strongly discouraged at the gates of our final regulatory approval. You might know that we received our OCC (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) charter approval in early September after many months of field examination by both the OCC and the FDIC. Nearly 90 days after our OCC approval, American Banker ran a feature story alleging what we’ve been suspecting for some time: that the FDIC appears to have an “unofficial moratorium” on approving any new bank charters. If this is proven, there will undoubtedly be political hell to pay for FDIC Chairwoman Bair as she tries to get re-appointed to another term under President Obama in two years.

The treatment we received and the outcome of all of this is a travesty. Plain and simple. To say we’ve been disenfranchised would be putting it politely. But I’m afraid suing them would be pointless – – their pockets are a bit deeper than ours and they indirectly own the printing presses. In any other “normal” time, an organizing group such as ours would have had little trouble getting all the necessary approvals. In fact, my business partner and the Chairman of MCC, Geof Longstaff, had gone through this process successfully no less than 16 years ago. Including Geof, our organizers included two other experienced national bank directors, plus we had what no other start-up bank had: a very profitable and nationally-prominent commercial finance company with earning assets that would have shortened the typical start-up bank’s timeframe to reaching profitability. Our organizing group was much stronger than the one Geof led 16 years ago . . . but oh, how times have apparently changed.

Propping-up Failures at the Expense of Strengthening Success

Well, all of this seems to have been for naught. It appears that the FDIC wants to prop-up failing banks – – the result of poor decision-making from questionable management – – rather than approve a “clean” entity such as ours, with a successfully-growing and profitable company (MCC) as the “crown jewel.” The bureaucrats at the FDIC conjured up every possible reason not to approve us . . . even citing outdated and mistaken research to support their wrong-headed conclusions. Frankly, it was a little embarrassing to hear them try to justify the direction they were heading, so we did the only honorable thing we could: we withdrew our application for federal deposit insurance . . . and you simply don’t start a bank without this.

I suppose this is “redistribution of wealth” at its governmental finest – – the complete disregard for entrepreneurial capital put at risk to try to form an entity to help America’s business owners and entrepreneurs in an obvious time of need. Funny, Mr. Vice President . . . I don’t feel very patriotic about my tax dollars supporting such incompetence. My mentor put it this way: “Our government has stepped into the futile, costly, and dangerous role of attempting to convert dedicated losers into winners – – mostly by pouring billions of dollars into the gaping, black holes they’ve dug for themselves” and “investing in losers at the expense of winners is a stunningly stupid proposition.”

I believe it was our third President, Thomas Jefferson, who once said, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Of course, he also stated, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” There is a very dangerous precedent being set by our leaders right now, and I find it deeply troubling. I suspect I’m not alone.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Ever the diligent entrepreneurs, we have nothing else left to do but to pick up the pieces and move forward. More to come on the future of MCC . . . stay tuned!

14 Comments

  1. Bill McKee says:

    What we have going on here is what Lincoln described as a “War on Capital”.

    Mr. Obama likes to fancy himself as someone cut from the same sort of cloth as Lincoln.. How arrogant is that? Frankly, he isn’t fit to carry Lincoln’s bedpan in my opinion.

    Lincoln said he wanted “to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else” and “leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can.”

    He said, “Free Labor” –A mans right to choose his own work, take risks and reap the rewards, benefiting the community along with himself– was actually “the just and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way for all– gives hope to all, and energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all”. When people failed in their “chance” to rise, “it is not the fault of the system, but because of either a dependent nature which prefers it, or improvidence, folly, or singular misfortune”.

    I’m afraid the current administration holds views and is hell bent to impose policies diametrically opposed to those fundamental beliefs held in high esteem by President Lincoln.

    No, what we have now is a regime in office that is following the roadmap as set forth in the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. It’s easy to confirm.. From assault on free enterprise, dismantling of the traditional nuclear family, curtailment of speech that is deemed counter to the central government, enslavement of the population to government control via confiscation of wealth.. well, I could take up a lot of pages here.

    The point is, your run in with the FDIC has far more to do with politics than many people are willing to consider. Now, if you were proposing some sort of Sharia compliant bank, you might get a lot further along.

    The freedom loving people in this country had better organize a resistance before real “Hell” breaks loose.

    Or we can just ignore what’s going on around us and let come what may.

  2. Jean Gareave says:

    It is quite apparent that you are missing the big picture. Doing things the same way is what got us into this mess. We need change. We do not need anymore of the last 8 years. This is a diferrent time that requires different actions.

  3. Larry Parman says:

    I would only replace “Indecision” with “Spinelessness.” But it’s more than that. This is/will be a complete assault on the entrepreneurial class – drivers of economic growth – by the political class, specialists only in the law of unintended consequences. It’s the Europeanization of America…the worst part of Europe at that. The epic battle pits power v. freedom…freedom to earn, keep, retain any independence from the mother’s milk. I could go on, but we’re all too busy.

    Chris, I’ve lived through bank ownership, past and current clients as CEOs of same, fighting with regulators years ago and today. When it ended for me, I decided I would never be in that business or any other regulated business again. Even today I’m always irritated at the rules imposed by simply having a securities license. For example, they make me send every email I receive to a central system where it has to go through a filter that identifies language they perceive may be inappropriate. You kidding me? I know how you are feeling but believe me prayers you didn’t know you said have been answered in the best possible way. In every setback there is the seed….

    Larry

  4. Chris Hurn says:

    Jean –

    Glad you think so. That’s why we were trying to launch our new bank now: the actions of other bankers has helped get us into the situation we find ourselves in now. The marketplace is sorely in need of someone like us to help America’s small businesses grow and prosper. Our past successes turned into reasons NOT to approve us – we were told that they didn’t need to insure our deposits; we were already a success. I equate that with our regulators trying to prop-up failure, rather than strengthen success. Our regulators need to start understanding the Big Picture. Now is EXACTLY when we should be supporting private capital’s investments into the marketplace – NOT deterring them and wasting their start-up capital and intentions. If the FDIC had told us of their unofficial moratorium months ago, we wouldn’t have wasted so much time and money. The fact that they have no accountability in this matter is a travesty. I’m ALL for change, but it can’t just be a campaign slogan. We would have provided change to the marketplace at a time when it is needed… but it is the entrenched bureaucrats that can’t seem to see the forest from the trees. Change is needed there, too.

  5. Bill Cofield says:

    Gentlemen:

    Each to his own opinion; however, nothing will happen to stimulate the economy without the investment community coming back into the picture. In the home loan mortgage business, FHA guidelines are a joke. Fannie and Freddie have no capital; therefore, no voice and no clout. It is the investor that is putting forth the money to buy the mortgages that is setting the rules and “they ain’t what they used to be”. All of the political figures can wave the flag and point to what they have done to save the market. They have done nothing until the investor groups see fit to buy the products that they created. So far it isn’t happening. All that the banks have done with the billions that they have grabbed is cover their “assets” by using the infusion of capital to keep their deposit to loan balances at a level whereby they can still borrow from the Fed or at least claim that they are still solvent. That money is NOT going back into the U.S. economy and is not stimulating anything.

    Sorry about waste of time, Mr. Hurn.

    Bill Cofield
    Alabama co-op for Mortgage Brokers, Inc.
    406 5th St. N.; Ste. 2
    Oneonta, AL 35121
    205-625-6338 Ph

  6. Mike Lyngvar says:

    Joe, the average worker says:
    Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test. Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do , on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their lazy butts, doing drugs, while I work. . . . Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check? Something has to change in this country — and soon!!!!!

    Sorry to say Pelosi, Obama, and Biden are not the answer.

  7. Shawn G says:

    Chris

    Put your money to work with me! Opening a 2nd car wash in Miami. The government would’ve given you anything you wanted if you promised high CD rates and fake returns to investors. They don’t like those who stand out as profitable like TD Bank etc

  8. Hal Hoadley says:

    What can you do when there are people in this country that believe that they are owed something in return for their own stupidity? What are we to believe when the change we were told is coming is really just a political ploy to steal from the wealthy so our government can give to the pathetic, lazy Americans that can’t think for themselves and believe they are owed something. I have been greatly disappointed in all politicans over the past two years. We were told of bi-partisanship by our 44th President. He isn’t really trying to reach over the line very hard. He is a good orator and so far, that’s all he has to offer. Instead of Mr. Obama trying to emulate Mr. Lincoln, I think we would be better served if he would emulate Mr. kennedy.
    Chris, all you can do is exactly what you stated; move on and make lemonade out of those lemons. You are a winner.

  9. Mike McLain says:

    Great blog entry! Hang in there! With your marketing and entrepreneurial drive great things are bound to happen.

  10. Ray Sieber says:

    Well, Chris, I agree the government should, for the most part, stay out of our free market system. However, when the free market goes to the government troff for a bailout, free market rules no longer apply – don’t you agree? I personally don’t think any bailouts should have been granted but they were. In my opinion this has been the largest bank robbery in our nations history since the S&L Crises. Interestingly enough, the Bush family was involved in both…

    I am fiscal conservative, Chris, which means I’m against increased taxes and government intervention in a free market system. However, after eight years of George Bush I will simply tell you that words are cheep. So please educate me to what it means to be a fiscal conservative with a multi-trillion dollar national debt amassed through deficit spending because I am pissed about what has gone on and is still going on. Moreover, please explain, Chris, how Supply-Side Economics works and will work in this economic environment, how Moral Hazard was allowed with so much government oversight, and what became of the Private Money Stimulus Package that was spoken about so briefly at the front end of the finical melt down, and would have keep the government out of our free market system. If you have time you could also explain why the governments in 2004 moved the regulatory and enforcement authority of banks with national charters from the state level to the federal level (The OCC) and the role this played in the melt down?

    In stead of “Dedicated to Your Success (and that of our economy)” maybe you should consider the quips, “Free-Market Profits & Socialized Losses” or “My Cake and Eat It Too.” I think they sums up the situation more accurately. Don’t you?

  11. Chris Hurn says:

    Thanks Ray – not sure if I’ve pissed you off or not, but explaining all of that (which you’ve probably rhetorically asked) would require a lengthy phone call rather than emailing pages back to you. We’re both fiscal conservatives, and I’m far from an apologist for the last 8 years. The reality is: I had and have a private-sector, free-market solution… but now our government has to over-reach to attempt to correct things. Even when someone wants to help the situation, we can’t. I DO like your comment about “socialized losses” – the question now becomes: will it be socialized profits eventually too?

  12. Outtanames999 says:

    You give up too easily.

    If you are really serious about starting a bank you will not give up just because of a little red tape. What did you expect – that they would roll out a red carpet for you? Quit whining and get back in the ring and fight!

    If becoming a bank is really what you want to do (I personally question the sanity of it, but go for it if it’s what you want to do), if it is the strategically correct direction for your business, then marshall your resources, call your congressman, put together the most politically influential board that you can, go get a copy of Why SOBs Succeed and Nice Guys Fail in a Small Business, pull out all the stops and don’t take no for an answer. And cancel your subscription to Dan Kennedy, he cannot help you.

    Learn to play the game the way it is played and play to win.

    Failure will not be an option for you if you are serious.

  13. Wayne Story says:

    Thank you Chris for bearing your soul and frustration. I’m not quite sure why it is when we discuss the administration of Career Government agencies and employees; it has to turn into a referendum on one Presidential administration over another. The truth is the time you quoted for Geoff’s former bank start-up experience was under a totally different administration than Bush or Obama. So the Presidential comparison is irrelevant to this conversation. The issue is a broken bureaucracy we must wade through to fulfill Government legal requirements and the shroud of hypocrisy that happens when they encourage you to invest your time even though they’ve decided in advance they aren’t going to approve it.

    The Government in general in the Clinton, Bush and now current administration have and continue to undermined the private sector’s ability to excel. The issue is not what President is in office and whether you like that choice. The issue is the bureaucracy our legislature has created over the last 30 years. They find it necessary to create laws to prevent stupidity and greed. When those two are present in a business, and they fail, our government should get out of the way and let them fail. Our economy will survive. It has in the past. Our government should not be in the role of deciding who should fail and who should survive. The truth is, when government takes the path, you almost always just prolong the inevitable. A fine example: do a Google search for “Chrysler Bail-Out 1979.” Now 30 years later we’re back in the same boat with that industry. When does the government stop and get out of our way? Presidential politics should have nothing to do with it. Most all problems are created by large bulbous government agencies and congressional officeholders who must payoff constituents to get re-elected and don’t have the fortitude to do the right thing for the country regardless of the election outcome. We are repeating the same historic mistakes over and over again except the numbers are getting gigantic.
    Wayne Story
    http://www.DirectMarketinStrategiesRx.com
    505-260-4663

  14. Chris Hurn says:

    Outtanames999-

    I hardly think I’ve whined here, nor do I think 16 months and $1.7 million was an incidental attempt. As for red tape, you have NO IDEA what red tape we DID go through and fully expected to – your presumption that we did otherwise shows a gross misunderstanding of the process on your part. Your comments are ridiculously misplaced. We ARE moving on, and we will recapitalize my current business and do just fine – I’m thinking you didn’t read my next post, so go here http://www.504experts.com/blog/mcc-continues-to-provide.php We DID get our Congressmen (plural) involved AND our Senators AND had a politically influential board AND hired counsel in Washington at a law/lobbying firm many would recognize… but at the end of the day: they are the immovable object and we had to change course. I don’t consider that failure at all. I consider it finding another way. We KNOW how the game is played, but today, the game is shut-down – no one “plays” anymore and no one would have shown up if they had simply told everyone, “No more games are being played. Don’t waste your time trying to get in.”

    I think the bigger issue here is how ineffectual our government really is… how they can stand in the way of progress and do everything to prevent it, even when it means taking the coward’s approach of doing nothing at all. They ARE a bit bigger than us, you know – I can’t exactly print money or sue them unless I want to waste more millions and many more months, if not years, doing so. This wasn’t a case of not getting in some prospect’s door until I called him 75 days in a row. This is the U.S. Government and our esteemed bureaucracy, which in day’s environment is hunkering-down and trying to stop the blood-loss, instead of understanding the strategic importance of having new banks chartered to provide fresh blood to the marketplace. Next time you comment on my blog, do us all a favor and identify yourself – it’s easy to lob “advise” from behind the curtain of anonymity.

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