Most states have laws on their books that make it illegal to spread statements about a bank in order to undermine confidence in the bank.
They do this for the very good reason that when a run on a bank starts through rumor or innuendo and the bank goes belly up- and it happens very quickly- it costs taxpayers money, it costs shareholders money and it costs society as a whole.
The rule, in other words, is to be very careful about what you say about banks. Banks live by these rules and so do regulators. In fact, when a bank is in trouble with regulators, the information is considered confidential and not to be disseminated to the public.
Here’s the relevant code from New York:
§ 671. False statements or rumors as to banking institutions. Any person who wilfully and knowingly makes, circulates or transmits to another or others any statement or rumor, written, printed or by word of mouth, which is untrue in fact and is directly or by inference derogatory to the financial condition or effects the solvency or financial standing of any bank, private banker, savings bank, banking association, building and loan association or trust company doing business in this state, or who knowingly counsels, aids, procures of induces another to start, transmit or circulate any such statement or rumor, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Really, it’s in our best interest to foster confidence in our banking system rather than the opposite. The whole banking system rests on people’s confidence in it: banks have confidence debtors will pay; debtors have confidence that they’ll be able to pay and depositors have confidence that the bank will be able to pay. Confidence is why laws like trying to adversely effect the solvency or financial standing of any bank are on the books to begin with.
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