Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Trading Places?

Continuing with the Eddie Murphy part of my last post, the first time that I saw the building pictured above was in the movie Trading Places. It was the building owned by brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke, the owners of an investment firm in Philadelphia that traded in futures and commodities. They educated me and Mr. Murphy to the beauty of Wall St. and that how no matter how much money their clients made or lost, they would still get theirs.

At that time in my life, I am not even sure that I had even heard of Philadelphia or if I had, I had no concept of where it was. But as I got older and moved to the Delaware Valley region I was surprised to find that the building was actually a bank headquarters. I have forgotten what the name of the bank was when I arrived, but suffice it to say it the name has changed 3 or 4 times in the last 18 years.

I was always amazed that whenever the bank changed hands, they would change the name on the front, not by putting up some cheap plastic sign with glowing lights inside but by re-concreting the edifice and carving out the new name. Is there such a word as re-concrete? Anyway, I always thought this was really grand that the new owners would keep the original integrity of the architectural design of the building. This helped maintain an aura of stability for Broad Street Philadelphia in what has really been an unstable industry around the nation.

Word came last week that the name on the building may change again. I believe both Citigroup and Wells Fargo are trying to take over the banking interests of the present owner, Wachovia Bank. Originally, the FDIC had brokered a deal Wachovia to purchase many of their bad loans if they sold their banking interests to Citigroup. But then Wells Fargo and principal shareholder Warren Buffett came along and offered much more money for the whole thing. There would have been so much in fact that the FDIC would no longer need to spend any of its own money to cover the debt. A conundrum.

Well as is the way of all things financial where a dispute is involved, both companies have taken their case to court and I have no idea what the outcome will be. But I think that somehow, some way, the real Duke Brothers of the world are still going be able to get theirs.


  1. This whole Wachovia bank issue is getting outta hand kinda. I heard about this on the news this morning.

  2. how they gone do that, the engraved name and bldg is some classic architecture

  3. from what I was told, citibank is takin wachovia to court because there was an agreement that wachovia cound be in talks with other companies and they were talkin to wells fargo. Citi got wind of this and said NO NO NO... lol

    How true is this? I'm sure there are more details, I am being simple and vague...

  4. Darius - Actually I think the banking industry has been out of hand for years now. I still remember many of the big and local banks that are no longer around now.

    Torrance - These pictures don't show it but the concrete around the name is newer than the concrete surrounding it. I've never seen it done, but I would assume they would just chisel out the old concrete, reset it, smoothe it and stamp out the new name before it drys.

    Fuzzy - Citibank is going to court because their offer is a steal compared to the one Wells Fargo is putting down and the Citi doesn't want to lose the opportunity to get something for cheap plus broaden their market area.

  5. Hey - I just added a new post.


  6. I think its time to do like grandma did and stuff all our money in a mattress, this time it will be a pillow top mattress.

  7. Whozhe - In a weird kind of way people are already putting their money under the mattress right now. They are sending their money to the Fed Reserve which must be the largest and safest mattress in the world.

    Money Funds and other financial interests are buying T-bills for 0.2% interest instead putting their money as they would have last month into the commercial paper market because no one knows when the next shoe will fall or who the show will belong to.

  8. Curious you are absolutely right that is the bank that was in the movie Trading Places, and like you I can't remember the name of the bank at that time. Changing of the signs or etching in stone either way it does not appear to be concrete in the terms of solid foundation.

    I have had it with all the merges and takeovers etc. I can't imagine how Wachovia managed to offer it to Wells Fargo and then hold out for a highher price from Citigroup when in fact the agreement and the ink had dried of the documents.

  9. Chet - It's all about the dollar and who can get it that drives actions like this. Not to worry though, no matter who takes over Wachovia come next year they'll probably raise the fees and charges to all of their account holders and customers to cover the costs.

  10. I gotta just have to say that I don't even like to think about all this drama. I hate being a grown up, sometimes and I know it is not good to bury your head in the sand around these things, but I have done just that.

  11. One Man - Aren't you worried that as the economy falls, cities will start to feel the effects of losing so much money on the stock market that one of the things they will cut back on is to cut the amount of people on their payrolls? Aren't you worried that banks consolidate more and more creating oligopolies if not monopolies, they will start to charge more and more for their services and hit you in the pocket book? Aren't you "afeared" One Man?


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