29 June 2010

Americans Need Not Apply

Last week poor little UBS told me so sorry, but no, we don't want your money. The poor little giant Swiss bank won't let me open my own account. And they were very explicit as to why. It's not because they fear that my microscopic freelance checks would injure their bankers while they're rolling on their marble floors laughing. And it's not because the U.S. dollar is a house of credit cards ready to collapse. Actually, believe it or not, the shaky currency du jour is the euro, used by every country surrounding Switzerland, and now causing centime-savvy Swiss along the borders to flock to France, Italy, Austria and Germany to buy their week's supply of Rivella and Gruyère. But this isn't why poor little UBS won't let me open my own account. The reason, they told me quite explicitly, is ... I'm American.

Well fuck you very much, UBS -- and in case you didn't notice, the United States outlasted CH in the World Cup, ha ha ha, so stick that up your secret vault where the sun don't shine!

No, I shouldn't say that. You can hardly blame poor little UBS with its assets of only 3.2 trillion (no lie) Swiss francs -- a currency so stable that UBS reportedly uses columns of 100-franc notes to hold up the parking decks below their banks. Really the no-Americans policy is the fault of the mean old U.S. government, which is leaning on teeny weeny Switzerland like a pot-bellied, gold-chained Jersey enforcer trying to get the bankers to fess up about American citizens hiding taxable income in secret Swiss bank accounts. (Coincidentally, UBS has a "Private Wealth Management" HQ in New Jersey.) And now the governments of Spain and Italy have piled on too, demanding depositors' names, everybody trying to get in on the action. Despicable.

So I don't really blame poor little UBS. Though I have to admit that I can afford to be so magnanimous only because my Swiss wife already had a couple of UBS accounts, so now one is a joint account which I'm already infecting with American dollars. (And merci beaucoup to you, Monsieur Not-to-be-Named UBS banker who helped us get my dollars into Ungrateful Banque Suisse.)

Of course that's not really what the letters "UBS" stand for. As it turns out, the letters, like the bank, stand for ... well ... nothing. Historically, they stood for "Union Bank of Switzerland," but that was only until 1998 when that bank merged with the Swiss Bank Corporation, at which point, apparently, having their name actually mean something was deemed silly.

But hey, UBS, I don't want to be part of your stupid bank anyway. Yes, the wife and I will keep our joint account there for the time-being because you are ridiculously lenient when we must momentarily overdraw our checking account for something truly urgent like hot concert tickets for Montreux. But otherwise, you better start courting non-Americans like maybe Robert Mugabe to make up for our business, because I've just discovered the gorgeous old building where the Banque Cantonal Neuchatel is located, so, very soon, I'm outta here. Unless they don't take Americans.


  1. Hum babe, actually we might want to switch to a non-profit credit union (if there is such a thing here), because when it comes down to it, traditional banks are pretty much all the same everywhere!...

    Sorry to see so much hypocricy from banks AND countries alike. The fact is that all super powers have money hidden off shore! We know they all portray themselves as perfect little angels, but in reality, everyone's doing it: POLITICS!

  2. Oh no, sweetheart, you're wrong about that. The United States of America IS a perfect angel and only does anything for the betterment of the universe.

  3. Hey Bill, great Blog !! Get your wife to take you to Laturbrunnen and Wegen !! The most beautifull place on earth !! It's like 2 hours away, or go for the day while the ball and chain is at work. Also I loved Luzern and Lugano. And did you know your pass is good on teh ferry's? Go to Luzern and take a ferry ride accros the lake, most stunning !!Locarno is beautifull too !! And I loved Spiez!! Keep up the good writing. Funny about the bank !! Thanks Eddie

  4. Hey Eddie, great to hear from you. Come see us and we'll go to Wegen together!