Nation of Beancounters

How high-risk are people?

Posted in Stories by Navin Kumar on November 9, 2012

Presh Talwalkar relates a story from Resilence, a book on the aftermath of disasters, about what Hancock Bank did after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans:

While the winds were still subsiding, Hancock employees stood in front of forty of the branches knocked offline, operating from card tables, under tarps, and out of mobile homes, and offered two hundred dollars in cash to anyone who would sign a slip of paper with his or her name, residence, and Social Security number. Not just Hancock customers–anyone. No ID, no problem. Much of this money was recovered from the ruins of local casinos and literally laundered and ironed by branch workers before being handed out.

By the time the disaster was over, the company [gave out] $42 million…with nothing more than Post-it Note IOUs as a record.

…Within months, thirteen thousand new accounts were opened at Hancock and deposits had risen by $1.5 billion; within three years, all but $200,000 worth of those initial $200 loans–99.5 percent–had been paid back.

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