William Shipley inherited Bank of America stock from his father and watched as Charlotte's banks boomed, becoming as much a symbol of the city's success as its gleaming skyline.
At one time, his 3,000 shares were valued around $180,000. Now, they're worth less than $20,000. Shipley's dividend payment this year will likely be around $120, down from $7,200 in 2007.
"Everyone you talk to today has been affected," said Shipley, 76, a retiree who ran an insurance business. "It would be a lot easier for me to say it's going to work out well if I were in my mid-50s."
Charlotte, known for its thriving financial services sector, is reeling from a global banking crisis that has eroded the city's wealth and chipped away at its identity.
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Residents cringed as Wachovia crumbled and fell into the arms of Wells Fargo. Then Bank of America's stock price and dividend plunged to historic lows.
Last week, Bank of America's stock value was around $42 billion, down from around $183 billion in 2007. This year, the bank is expected to pay around $254 million in dividends. In 2007, it paid $10.7 billion. Both banks are laying off thousands. For those who survive, bonuses will likely be modest.
But the financial consequences of the banking meltdown reach beyond those directly connected to the big banks. From law firms to restaurants to retailers, the loss of bank jobs, stock value and rich dividend checks has led to rising unemployment and shattered bottom lines.
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