USAA Federal Savings Bank (Full Disclosure: I have my mortgage and credit card with USAA and it is easily the best financial institution in the world) has begun touting its lack of bailout money in a $25 million ad campaign with the tag line "Banks don't need bailouts, people do." Worthington National Bank put up a sign that says "Just say no to bailout banks."
These ad campaigns are really, really savvy -- and should capitalize on the bailout burnout that is afflicting millions of taxpayers who are wondering "Why the hell should my money be used to pad the coffers of Citigroup?"
Some CEOs of bailed out banks have criticized these kinds of ads as "low blows", but that really isn't the case. It's perfectly reasonable to say to consumers: "Look, would you really trust your money with a bank that's on welfare? And if so, why not just hand your money to the bum on the street corner with the bottle of vodka and the harmonica? At least he doesn't charge overdraft fees."
For Americans who don't like the bailouts, boycotting bailed out banks is the perfect response. A.) You'll feel good about supporting local, prudently-managed institutions, and B.) Perhaps more importantly you will also be helping to ensure that bailouts don't happen again. Why? If bailouts lead to massive declines in deposits, banks will have to manage themselves more prudently in the future because they'll know that getting a bailout will torpedo their customer bases. Even if politicians are willing to bail out banks again, it won't be a viable solution.