Retailers, and ultimately consumers, have won a victory over the big banks, albeit a small one.
Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve slashed the fees charged by banks such as Bank of America
But the cuts were not as great as the Fed had originally proposed. The Fed's original plan was to cap fees at $0.12 per transaction from the existing $0.44 per swipe -- a 73% cut. The Fed ultimately settled on a cap of about $0.24. The revenue losses from the change run high, with some estimating $12 billion in lost fees before the final cap was established. And that's very high-margin revenue, meaning much of it becomes profit.
No wonder the bankers' lobbyists were out in force opposing the cap. In response to the new rule, the American Bankers Association, a top lobbyist for the megabanks, stated, "The Federal Reserve has taken a significant step in reducing the harm that could have resulted from the proposed rule." If the ABA means harm to the banks' income statements, then it's spot-on. But those banks' profits are ultimately higher costs for consumers.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon also described the fee restrictions as "price-fixing at its worst," according to The Wall Street Journal. But that's simply nonsense. The banks have had all the pricing power for years.
The real customers of credit and debit card companies such as Visa
The new rule should help behemoths like Wal-Mart
So while this rule change certainly helped consumers, it could have gone much farther. Every dollar extracted from consumers by the banks' rentier capitalism is one less that is actually going to fuel innovation and future economic development and getting the economy back on track.
Jim Royal, Ph.D., does not own shares in the companies mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart and JPMorgan Chase. The Fool owns shares of and has opened a short position on Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Visa, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.