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Reenact the Glass- Steagall Act of 1933 that President Roosevelt put in place during the depression and that was repealed in 1999. ( banking rule )
The article below describes in concise detail the mechanisms the Glass- Steagall act provided, to control the investment and lending practices of banks,
From, Which Idiot Decided To Repeal Glass-Steagall? www.voices.yahoo.com
|By: selise Sunday February 22, 2009 7:28 pm||
Note: In a previous diary on OTC Derivatives (Which Idiot Decided Not to Regulate Credit Default Swaps?) we looked at the legislative history of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Today’s topic is the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the repeal of Glass-Steagall—a part of the deregulation story of how our banks got “too big to fail.” For additional details and reference links see my Financial Regulation Timeline.
From Stiglitz’s 2003 book, The Roaring Nineties (typos are mine):
For more than half a century, commercial banking, which takes deposits from households and firm and makes conventional loans, had been separated from investment banking, which helps firms issue new bonds and shares. The same company could not lend money and also sell securities, in other words. The Glass-Steagall Act, which barred this, was one of the reforms put in place by the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, in response to the wave of bank failures that had followed the Great Crash of 1929. But the ideas behind Glass-Steagall went back even further, to Teddy Roosevelt and his efforts to break up the big trusts, the large firms that wielded such economic power. TR and the Progressives of the early twentieth century were alarmed not only about the concentration of economic power but about its impact on the political process. When enterprises become too big, and interconnections too tight, there is a risk that the quality of economic decisions deteriorates, and the “too big to fail” problem rears its ugly head. Expecting to be bailed out of trouble, managers become emboldened to take risks that they might otherwise shun. In the Great Depression, when many banks were on the ropes, it was, in effect, the public that bore the risk, while the bank got the reward. Wen banks failed, the taxpayers paid the price through publicly funded bailouts.
The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 addressed a very real problem. Investment banks push stocks, and if a company whose stock they have pushed needs cash, it becomes very tempting to make the loan. The U.S. system worked in part because under Glass-Steagall the banks provided a source of independent judgments on the creditworthiness of businesses. When a “full-service” bank makes most of its money by selling equities and bonds or arranging “deals,” issuing loans becomes almost ancillary—a sideline.
With Glass-Steagall, the United States rejected the course followed by other nations, such as Japan and Germany, that did not separate commercial and investment banking—I believe to our evident benefit. But American banks themselves saw Glass-Steagall as reducing their opportunities for making profits and not surprisingly began to insist that the rules separating commercial and investment banking had become passé. In an age of free-floating capital and giant multi-national companies, they argued, banks had to be integrated, to make advantage of what are called “economies of scope”—the benefits that businesses can reap by working in many different areas at once. Global competition was too intense for bank concentration to be a serious worry (though in fact, many borrowers, especially small and medium-siaze firms, have access only to a few potential lenders), and Glass-Steagall supposedly put American banks at a disadvantage.
In the mid-nineties, the banks mounted a concerted campaign to have Glass-Steagall repealed. The conditions were favorable. Prosperity made the notion of bank failure seem very remote (though the S&L crisis of the eighties ought to have been a caution).
Full article at site listed above.
The argument is that the act would not have prevented the recession but it would have slowed it down made recognition of what was happening clearer and provided a structure within which banks could be forced to comply.