One Bank's Plan to Steal From You

Written by Ryan Stancil
Posted December 31, 2020

Do you remember when this pandemic started? It seems like it was ages ago, but the first case in the U.S. was confirmed on January 21. It was declared a worldwide pandemic on March 11. On March 19, California became the first state to issue stay-at-home orders. You know the rest of the story.

During those first few months, you couldn’t turn on the television or watch a video online without seeing an ad reminding you that “we’re all in this together.” You’ve probably heard the somber piano music and seen the montages of everyday people. Car companies did it, telecom companies did it, insurance companies did it.

On the surface, the idea was to remind everyone that (insert company name here) is there for you in these (uncertain/unprecedented/trying) times. Like all good advertising, these companies wanted viewers to think they mattered.

It was nice for a while. But as the pandemic dragged on and people got used to wearing a mask everywhere, companies adjusted too. Those adjustments came with some pain for many companies. Others, however, leaned right back into their old habits that showed us why many people aren’t fans of giant corporations to begin with.

What We Must Do to Rebuild 

“What We Must Do to Rebuild” is the title of a recent report from Deutsche Bank. The core of the report is the suggestion that anyone who works from home due to the pandemic should pay a tax to help those who cannot work remotely.

The reasoning, the bank says, is that these work-from-home employees are contributing less to the infrastructure of the economy but still fully benefitting. The argument the bank puts out cites loss of sales for businesses that thrive from office workers commuting to work — think businesses like dry cleaners, delis, and coffee shops as well as areas like public transit.

With many more people working from home, these small businesses have struggled and many will inevitably close down. It’s an ugly truth, yes. The fact that the country’s leadership failed to adequately address keeping these small businesses whole during this pandemic is even uglier and a whole different conversation.

But the fact that a company like Deutsche Bank is proposing a tax on workers who are doing what they can to try and slow the spread is both laughable and shameless. It comes across as out of touch at best and shifting responsibility at worst.

This is the same Deutsche Bank that paid billions in fines after getting caught as part of the Libor scandal in 2015.

This is the same Deutsche Bank that, in that same year, was fined for doing business with countries under U.S. sanctions.

This is the same Deutsche Bank that’s been caught laundering money more than once.

I’m sure the bank has plenty of investments in commercial real estate, and thus a vested interest in offices being occupied. But, at the same time, it hasn’t exactly been hurting during the pandemic. The bank’s stock price in late March was somewhere around $6 per share. As of close of business Tuesday, it was $11.46 per share.

Not many people working from home have had their net worth nearly double since the spring. But sure, let’s tax them for even more money. It’s not like massive companies like Deutsche Bank have countless billions that they store away.

This proposal isn’t likely to be taken seriously, but the fact that it exists shows that large companies don’t think much of the rest of us. It doesn’t matter how many appeals their ads make to the public’s emotions.

They’ll Take and Still Demand More

Navigating the economic fallout of the pandemic isn’t going to be an easy task. As society wrestles with where to go next, it’s important to remember that only you have your best interests in mind.

Federal leadership has shown more interest in continuing partisan infighting than helping the people. Big companies showed empathy until it wasn’t marketable anymore. Now, more than ever, it’s become apparent that the system doesn’t actually exist to serve the everyman. It never will.

If you’re a regular reader of these pages, none of this is news to you. Still, it helps to get a reminder every once in a while that your wellbeing is your responsibility. Left to their devices, there are bad actors out there who would exploit it for their own gain.

Keep your eyes open,

Ryan Stancil
Contributing Editor, Outsider Club

Ryan is an associate editor and regular contributor to Outsider Club. Since 2014, his articles have offered commentary on technology and geopolitics to help readers make sense of the constantly changing landscape and how it affects their investments.

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