It’s a wonderful life.
On the day of his wedding George Bailey is due to leave Bedford Falls and sees a rush to the bank and the Bailey Building and Loan. George returns to his office and explains basic banking practice to the customers – persuading some to retain their accounts with the Building and Loan. The money he had saved for his honeymoon is used to pay out the customers and at day’s end George and his uncle celebrate their solvency as they retain a couple of bank notes. The worry is over. George has survived the run on the bank.
What you didn’t see…
The Bedford Falls Evening news runs a report that night that there’s been a run on the bank and the Building and Loan. They point out that benevolent local Mr Potter has agreed to guarantee the deposits in each to an assured percentage. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox News, the BBC, al-Jazeera, and Sky News show pictures of the run on the Building and Loan and a flustered Uncle Billy entering the Building and Loan and then departing later in the day. A voiceover explains that stressed Building and Loan staff had to deal with angry customers. A man comes on to stand in front of graphs and explain that while the Building and Loan is solvent, there is a liquidity issue, but customers shouldn’t worry. The following morning, the Bedford Falls Daily News runs pictures of the run on the Building and Loan and carries a big picture of George Bailey. The headline is, “Is the Building and Loan about to go under?” There is a bigger queue of people at the Building and Loan the following day. Unfortunately, George no longer has any money. While there is sufficient collateral, and the books indicate the Building and Loan is healthy with various rights to repayment of loans, George has no cash. He cannot satisfy the new requests for withdrawal. The bank is closed and won’t lend to the Building and Loan to cover this cashflow difficulty. George has to contact Mr Potter. Potter buys the Building and Loan and increases interest rates for George Bailey’s sub-prime borrowers.
George is screwed and tops himself before Clarence can arrive.
The moral – there is such a thing as bad publicity.