Wednesday, October 14, 2015


The Past

I have never had the same level of experience of discrimination as a black in a white world, a Muslim in America, a Jew during the Holocaust (more than discrimination what they suffered)  or any other minority. As a white, highly educated, middle-class ex-American Swiss woman I should be free from all that. My status was/is an accident of birth.

Or so I thought but these were all things I could over come, alternatives denied many of the other groups.

Sure, when my ex and I separated in 1969, the bank denied me a loan for the car I needed to get to work because "divorcing women were unstable." And yes my soon-to-be ex did get a loan from the same bank where our families had done business for three generations. My father loaned me the money, and I never missed a payment.

Women's lib and new legislation put an end to that sort of bank discrimination.


At one point I tried to buy a house with two other people, both white, in a red lined area of Boston. Read an area that banks mark with a red crayon as not worth loaning to...usually in a heavily black area. We were turned down for insufficient income even though our combined salaries was 4x greater than the purchase price. We finally found a bank that would give us the money.

In Switzerland one company told me I had all the skills they needed and the attitude but I was a woman and too old. The job I did find paid more for less effort.

Fast forward to 2015

There is a new group of people that number at least 8.7 people who are facing bank discrimination all over the world. They thought they were exempt if they even thought about it at all. They are:
  • American expats
  • Accidental Americans
  • Green Card Holders 
Mostly they fall into my category: educated, white (although not completely) and middle-class.

How are they being discriminated against and by whom?

Non US-based banks are closing American accounts, refusing to open any new account, calling in mortgages, cancelling credit cards, debit cards, refusing loans. Pension plans will not take on American clients, insurance companies will not sell them insurance.

And it is not the their' fault.

Americans represent danger to them.


The US passed a law call FATCA (Foreign Account Compliant Act) which says these organizations must report all American accounts. After all, these fat cats must be dodging taxes.

Aren't all expats rich?

Well no, they aren't. Most earn a salary commemorate with the local cost of living. This is taxed in their resident country with a deduction on US taxes. If they have income that is not a salary they are double taxed on things like pensions, SS, investment income, child support, etc.

To convince these banks and other financial organizations that compliance is a good idea they US made threats:
  • Pay 30% on all your US assets
  • Be shut out of the international banking system
To comply banks have spent billions. Countries have had to change their laws to protect their own financial systems in response to the US bullying.

And the 8.7 million American expats all over the world are in danger of losing the ability to manage an ordinary financial life.

Their solutions are few, the three most drastic are:
  • Disrupt their lives and move back to the US
  • Put everything in the name of a non US spouse, unhealthy for any relationship
  • Renounce their American nationality

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