We need more regulation: Reinstate Glass-Steagall Act

Discussion in 'Economics' started by walter4, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. Bailout is proof that history can repeat its failures
    SEPTEMBER 26, 2008

    In December 1930, the Bank of the United States, a then-large New York mega-commercial /investment bank, failed. A "commercial" bank takes in deposits and lends money. An "investment" bank deals in securities, speculation, and mergers (e.g., Lehman Bros.). Between 1929 and 1933, 10,000 (40 percent) of America's banks failed.

    In 1933, FDR signed the Banking Act of 1933 sponsored by Republican Senator Carter Glass (the Glass-Steagall Act). Glass-Steagall prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking (speculation).

    In the 1980s, deregulation of the financial sector began. In 1982, the S&Ls were deregulated. Between 1986 and 1995, more than 1,000 S&Ls failed. No one apparently learned anything from that debacle.

    In 1999, Bill Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act sponsored by Republican Sen. Phil Gramm (now with the Swiss mega-bank UBS). Gramm-Leach-Bliley was supported by Clinton's then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (now CEO of mega-bank Citicorp). Gramm-Leach-Bliley gutted Glass-Steagall and removed the 1933 firewall between commercial and investment banking.

    In 1950, manufacturing was 29.3 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and financial "services" including banking/securities was 11 percent. In 1970, manufacturing was still 23.8 percent and financial services were only 14 percent of our economy. Hence, 38 years ago much of our wealth came from creating tangible products. By 2005, however, manufacturing was only 12 percent of our GDP and financial services was 20.4 percent.

    Since the '70s, many of our good manufacturing jobs have moved overseas. Now we create more of our apparent wealth by creating and moving paper/electrons than by manufacturing goods. Much of the real wealth is now being created in China -- which also owns much of our paper (coincidence?)

    Since 1999 (when the Glass-Steagall firewall was removed), how have the banks been "creating" this "wealth?" They package individual loans into bundles and "for a fee" (read, create so-called wealth) and sell pieces of the new bundles back and forth as investments. They give these investments fancy names like "mortgage backed securities" (MBSs), "asset-backed securities" (ABSs) and "collateralized debt obligations" (CDOs).

    Why are the mega-banks now failing? When someone buys a MBS, ABS or CDO, they are just speculating (read: gambling).

    The removal of the Glass-Steagall firewall between banks that lend and banks that speculate has morphed the mega-banks into mere casinos. No real value has been added or created by their bundles; hence, no one can figure out what the bundles are really worth. The result? No one wants the bundles on their balance sheets anymore--and the taxpayer will now buy them and take the hit.

    Part of the solution? First, prohibit the bundling. Second, put back the firewall between banks that lend and banks that speculate (so the next round of alphabet speculations won't again kill lending). In other words, bring back the Glass-Steagall Act (the Mega-Bank Buster).
    Published: November 5, 1999

    Congress approved landmark legislation today that opens the door for a new era on Wall Street in which commercial banks, securities houses and insurers will find it easier and cheaper to enter one another's businesses.

    The measure, considered by many the most important banking legislation in 66 years, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 90 to 8 and in the House tonight by 362 to 57. The bill will now be sent to the president, who is expected to sign it, aides said. It would become one of the most significant achievements this year by the White House and the Republicans leading the 106th Congress.

    ''Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,'' Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. ''This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.''

    The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation's financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression.

    Today's action followed a rich Congressional debate about the history of finance in America in this century, the causes of the banking crisis of the 1930's, the globalization of banking and the future of the nation's economy.

    Administration officials and many Republicans and Democrats said the measure would save consumers billions of dollars and was necessary to keep up with trends in both domestic and international banking. Some institutions, like Citigroup, already have banking, insurance and securities arms but could have been forced to divest their insurance underwriting under existing law. Many foreign banks already enjoy the ability to enter the securities and insurance industries.

    ''The world changes, and we have to change with it,'' said Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, who wrote the law that will bear his name along with the two other main Republican sponsors, Representative Jim Leach of Iowa and Representative Thomas J. Bliley Jr. of Virginia. ''We have a new century coming, and we have an opportunity to dominate that century the same way we dominated this century. Glass-Steagall, in the midst of the Great Depression, came at a time when the thinking was that the government was the answer. In this era of economic prosperity, we have decided that freedom is the answer.''

    In the House debate, Mr. Leach said, ''This is a historic day. The landscape for delivery of financial services will now surely shift.''

    But consumer groups and civil rights advocates criticized the legislation for being a sop to the nation's biggest financial institutions. They say that it fails to protect the privacy interests of consumers and community lending standards for the disadvantaged and that it will create more problems than it solves.

    The opponents of the measure gloomily predicted that by unshackling banks and enabling them to move more freely into new kinds of financial activities, the new law could lead to an economic crisis down the road when the marketplace is no longer growing briskly.

    ''I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930's is true in 2010,'' said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota. ''I wasn't around during the 1930's or the debate over Glass-Steagall. But I was here in the early 1980's when it was decided to allow the expansion of savings and loans. We have now decided in the name of modernization to forget the lessons of the past, of safety and of soundness.''

    Senator Paul Wellstone, Democrat of Minnesota, said that Congress had ''seemed determined to unlearn the lessons from our past mistakes.''

    ''Scores of banks failed in the Great Depression as a result of unsound banking practices, and their failure only deepened the crisis,'' Mr. Wellstone said. ''Glass-Steagall was intended to protect our financial system by insulating commercial banking from other forms of risk. It was one of several stabilizers designed to keep a similar tragedy from recurring. Now Congress is about to repeal that economic stabilizer without putting any comparable safeguard in its place.''

    Supporters of the legislation rejected those arguments. They responded that historians and economists have concluded that the Glass-Steagall Act was not the correct response to the banking crisis because it was the failure of the Federal Reserve in carrying out monetary policy, not speculation in the stock market, that caused the collapse of 11,000 banks. If anything, the supporters said, the new law will give financial companies the ability to diversify and therefore reduce their risks. The new law, they said, will also give regulators new tools to supervise shaky institutions.

    ''The concerns that we will have a meltdown like 1929 are dramatically overblown,'' said Senator Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska.

    Others said the legislation was essential for the future leadership of the American banking system.

    ''If we don't pass this bill, we could find London or Frankfurt or years down the road Shanghai becoming the financial capital of the world,'' said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. ''There are many reasons for this bill, but first and foremost is to ensure that U.S. financial firms remain competitive.''

    But other lawmakers criticized the provisions of the legislation aimed at discouraging community groups from pressing banks to make more loans to the disadvantaged. Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, said during the House debate that the legislation was ''mean-spirited in the way it had tried to undermine the Community Reinvestment Act.'' And Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, said it was ironic that while the legislation was deregulating financial services, it had begun a new system of onerous regulation on community advocates.

    Many experts predict that, even though the legislation has been trailing market trends that have begun to see the cross-ownership of banks, securities firms and insurers, the new law is certain to lead to a wave of large financial mergers.

    The White House has estimated the legislation could save consumers as much as $18 billion a year as new financial conglomerates gain economies of scale and cut costs.

    Other experts have disputed those estimates as overly optimistic, and said that the bulk of any profits seen from the deregulation of financial services would be returned not to customers but to shareholders.

    These are some of the key provisions of the legislation:

    *Banks will be able to affiliate with insurance companies and securities concerns with far fewer restrictions than in the past.

    *The legislation preserves the regulatory structure in Washington and gives the Federal Reserve and the Office of Comptroller of the Currency roles in regulating new financial conglomerates. The Securities and Exchange Commission will oversee securities operations at any bank, and the states will continue to regulate insurance.

    *It will be more difficult for industrial companies to control a bank. The measure closes a loophole that had permitted a number of commercial enterprises to open savings associations known as unitary thrifts.

    One Republican Senator, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, voted against the legislation. He was joined by seven Democrats: Barbara Boxer of California, Richard H. Bryan of Nevada, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, Mr. Dorgan and Mr. Wellstone.

    In the House, 155 Democrats and 207 Republicans voted for the measure, while 51 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 1 independent opposed it. Fifteen members did not vote.

    Tucked away in the legislation is a provision that some experts today warned could cost insurance policyholders as much as $50 billion. The provision would allow mutual insurance companies to move to other states to avoid payments they would otherwise owe policyholders as they reorganize their corporate structure. Many states, including New York and New Jersey, do not allow such relocations without the consent of the insurer's domicile state. But the legislation before Congress would pre-empt the states.

    Both the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and the Prudential Life Insurance Company are in the midst of reorganizing into stock-based corporations that are requiring them to pay billions of dollars to policyholders from years of accumulated surplus. In exchange, the policyholders give up their ownership in the mutual insurance company.

    The legislation would permit any mutual insurance company to avoid making surplus payments to policyholders by simply moving to states with more permissive laws and setting up a hybrid corporate structure known as a mutual holding company.

    In a letter sent to Congress this week, Mr. Summers said that the provision ''could allow insurance companies to avoid state law protecting policyholders, enriching insiders at the expense of consumers.''
  3. Senator Byron Dorgan Warned Us The Economy Would Crash Like This, and he even told us that banks would rely on the Govt for a bailout

    A quick backgrounder - - - In 1933, Congress passed a law called the Glass-Steagall Act. The purpose of the law was to reform the banking industry after the stock market crash in 1929. The law prevented bank holding companies from owning other financial companies. This particular aspect of the Act was repealed in 1999 when the Republicans passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (a.k.a Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999). 53 Republicans voted for the law along with only 1 Democrat (McCain voted for it). 44 Democrats voted against it and not a single Republican opposed it. Bill Clinton signed it into law despite the fact that the Democrats vigorously opposed the law. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is considered the primary cause of the current economic crisis we are seeing in the news day in and day out.

    I am currently reviewing everything on the Congressional Record relating to the floor debates on the law. I am curious to see what each of our faithful members of Congress had to say way back in 1999 prior to this mess. As I started reading Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan's floor speech, I was amazed. This man practically foretold everything we are seeing in the news today - including the government bailout that Bush is proposing (pay special attention to the "to big to fail" section). In essence, once these huge banks started merging, they knew they would get a bailout. To not bail them out would harm the nation even moreso and the banks knew this! Unreal!!!!! I have highlighted some of the better parts of Senator Dorgan's speech.

    Here is Senator Dorgan's speech.

    From the congressional Record dated 05/06/99.

    Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, we are debating a piece of legislation in the Senate that is called the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999.

    I come today with the confession I am probably hopelessly old fashioned on this issue. For those who have a vision of re-landscaping the financial system in this country with different parts operating with each other in different ways and saying that represents modernization, then I am just hopelessly old fashioned, and there is probably nothing that can be said or done that will march me towards the future.

    I want to sound a warning call today about this legislation. I think this legislation is just fundamentally terrible. I hear all these words about the indus try remaking itself--banks, security firms and insurance companies, and that we'd better catch up and put a fence around where they are or at least build a pasture in the vicinity of where they are grazing. What a terrible idea.

    What is it that sparks this need to modernize our financial system? And what does modernization mean? This chart shows bank mergers in 1998, in just 1 year, last year, the top 10 bank mergers. We have discovered all these corporations have fallen in love and decided to get married. Citicorp, with an insurance company--that is a big one--$698 billion in combined assets; NationsBank--BankAmerica, $570 million; and the list goes on. This is a massive concentration through mergers.

    Is it good for the consumers? I don't think so. Better service, lower prices, lower fees? I don't think so. Bigger profits? You bet.

    What about the banking industry concentration? The chart shows the number of banks with 25 percent of the domestic deposits. In 1984, 42 of the biggest banks had 25 percent of the biggest deposits. Now only six banks have the biggest deposits. That is a massive concentration.

    I didn't bring the chart out about profits, but it will show --this is an industry that says it needs to be modernized--banks have record-breaking profits, security firms have very healthy profits, and most insurance companies are doing just fine. Why is there a need to modernize them?

    So we must ask the question, what about the customer? What impact on the economy will all of this so-called modernization have?

    It is interesting to me that the bill brought to the floor that says, ``Let's modernize this,'' is a piece of legislation that doesn't do anything about a couple of areas which I think pose very serious problems. I want to mention a couple of these problems because I want to offer a couple of amendments on them.

    I begin by reading an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, November 16, 1998. This is a harbinger of things to come, just as something I will read that happened in 1994 is a harbinger of things to come, especially as we move in this direction of modernization.

    It was Aug. 21, a sultry Friday, and nearly half the partners at Long-Term Capital Management LP [that's LTCM, a company] were out of the office. Outside the fund's glass-and-granite headquarters, a fountain languidly streamed over a copper osprey clawing its prey.

    Inside, the associates logged on to their computers and saw something deeply disturbing: U.S. Treasurys were skyrocketing, throwing their relationship to other securities out of whack. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was swooning--by noon, down 283 points. The European bond market was in shambles. LTCM's biggest bets were blowing up, and no one could do anything about it.

    This was a private hedge funding.

    By 11 a.m., the [hedge] fund had lost $150 million in a wager on the prices of two telecommunications stocks involved in a takeover. Then, a single bet tied to the U.S. bond market lost $100 million [by the same company]. Another $100 million evaporated in a similar trade in Britain. By day's end, LTCM [this hedge fund in20New York] had hemorrhaged half a billion dollars. Its equity had sunk to $3.1 billion--down a third for the year.

    This company had made bets over $1 trillion.

    Now, what happened? They lost their silk shirts. But of course, they were saved because a Federal Reserve Board official decided we can't lose a hedge fund like this; it would be catastrophic to the marketplace. So on Sunday night they convened a meeting with an official of the Federal Reserve Board, and a group of banks came in as a result of that meeting and used bank funds to shore up a private hedge fund that was capitalized in the Caymen Islands for the purpose, I assume, of avoiding taxes. Bets of over $1 trillion in hedges--they could have set up a casino in their lobby, in my judgment, the way they were doing business. But they got bailed out.

    This was massive exposure. The exposure on the hedge fund was such that the failure of the hedge fund would have had a significant impact on the market.

    And so we modernize our banking system. This is unregulated. This isn't a bank; it is an unregulated hedge fund, except the banks have massive quantities of money in the hedge fund now in order to bail it out.

    What does modernization say about this? Nothing, nothing. It says let's pretend this doesn't exist, this isn't a problem, let's not deal with it.

    So we will modernize our financial institutions and we will say about this problem--nothing? Don't worry about it?

    I find it fascinating that about 70 years ago in this country we had examples of institutions the futures of which rested on not just safety and soundness of the institutions themselves but the perception of safety and soundness, that is, banks. Those institutions, the future success and stability of which is only guaranteed by the perception that they are safe and sound, were allowed, 70 years ago, to combine with other kinds of risk enterprises--notably securities underwriting and some other activities--and that was going to be all right. That was back in the Roaring Twenties when we had this go-go economy and the stock market was shooting up like a Roman candle and banks got involved in securities and all of a sudden everybody was doing well and everybody was making massive amounts of money and the country was delirious about it.
  4. Then the house of cards started to fall. As investigations began and bank failures occurred and bank holidays were declared, from that rubble came a description of a future that would separate banking institutions from inherently risky enterprises. A piece of legislation called the Glass-Steagall Act was written, saying maybe we should learn from this, that we should not fuse inherently risky enterprises with institutions whose perception of safety and soundness is the only thing that can guarantee their future success. So we created circumstances that prevented certain institutions like banks from being involved in other activities such as securities underwriting.

    Over the years that has all changed. Banks have said, because everybody else has decided they want to intrude into our business--and that is right, a whole lot of folks now set themselves up in a lobby someplace and say we are appearing to be like a bank or want to behave like a bank--the banks say if that is the case, we want to get into their business. So now we have the kind of initiative here in the Congress that says: Let's forget the lessons of the past; let's believe the 1920s did not happen; let's not worry about Glass-Steagall. In fact, let's repeal Glass-Steagall; let's decide we can merge once again or fuse together banking enterprises and more risky enterprises, and we can go down the road just as happy as clams and everything will be just great. And of course it will not.

    I mentioned hedge funds--talk about risk. How about derivatives? Incidentally, those who vote for this bill will remember this at some point in the future when we have the next catastrophic event that goes with the risks in derivatives. Fortune magazine wrote an article, ``The Risk That Won't Go Away; Financial Derivatives Are Tightening Their Grip on the World Economy and No One Knows How to Control Them.'' Somewhere around $70- to $80 trillion in derivatives.

    I wrote an article in 1994 for the Washington Monthly magazine and derivatives at that point were $35 trillion. You know something, today in this country banks are trading derivatives on their own proprietary accounts. They could just as well put a roulette wheel in the lobby. They could just as well call it a casino. Banks ought not be trading derivatives on their proprietary accounts. I have an amendment to prohibit that. I don't suppose it would get more than a handful of votes, but I intend to offer it.

    Is it part of financial modernization to say this sort of nonsense ought to stop; that banks ought not be able to trade derivatives on their own proprietary accounts because that is inherently gambling? It does not fit with what we know to be the20fundamental nature of banking and the requirement of the perception of safety and soundness of these institutions. Does anybody here think this makes any sense, that we have banks involved in derivatives, trading on their own proprietary accounts? Does anybody think it makes any sense to have hedge funds out there with trillions of dollars of derivatives, losing billions of dollars and then being bailed out by a Federal Reserve-led bailout because their failure would be so catastrophic to the rest of the market that we cannot allow them to fail?

    And as banks get bigger, of course, we also have another doctrine. The doctrine in banking at the Federal Reserve Board is called, ``too big to fail.'' Remember that term, ``too big to fail.'' It means at a certain level, banks get too big to fail. They cannot be allowed to fail because the consequence on the economy is catastrophic and therefore these banks are too big to fail. Virtually every single merger you read about in the newspapers these days means we simply have more banks that are too big to fail. That is no-fault capitalism; too big to fail. Does anybody care about that? Does the Fed? Apparently not.

    Of course the Fed has an inherent conflict of interest. I think, if the Congress were thinking very clearly about the Federal

    Reserve Board, they would decide immediately that the Federal Reserve Board is not the locus of supervision of banks. The Federal Reserve Board is in charge of monetary policy. It is fundamentally a conflict of interest to be listening to the Fed about what is good for banks when they are involved in running the monetary policy of this country. If the Federal Reserve Board were, in my judgment, doing what it ought to be doing, it would be leading the charge, saying we need to regulate risky hedge funds because banks are involved in substantial risk on these hedge funds. Apparently hedge funds have become too big to fail. Then there needs to be some regulation.

    The Fed, if it were thinking, would say we need to deal with derivatives, and that bank trading on proprietary accounts in derivatives is absurd and ought not happen. Some will remember in 1994 the collapse in the derivative area. You might remember the stories. ``Piper's Managers' Losses May Total $700 Million.'' ``Corporation After Corporation Had to Write Off Huge Losses Because They Were Involved in the Casino Game on Derivatives.'' ``Bankers Trust Thrives on Pitching Derivatives But Climate Is Shifting.'' ``Losses By P&G May Clinch Plan to Change.''

    The point is, we have massive amounts of risk in all of these areas. The bill brought to the floor today does nothing to address these risks, nothing at all, but goes ahead and creates new risks by saying we will fuse and merge the opportunities for inherently risky economic activity to be combined with banking which requires the perception of safety and soundness.

    We have all these folks here who know a lot more about this than I do, I must admit, who say: Except we are creating firewalls. We have subsidiaries, we have affiliates, we have firewalls. They have everything except common sense; everything, apparently, except a primer on history. I just wish, before people would vote for this bill, they would be forced to read just a bit of the financial history of this country to understand how consequential this decision is going to be.

    I, obviously, am in a minority here. We have people who dressed in their best suits and they just think this is the greatest piece of legislation that has ever been given to Congress. We have choruses of folks standing outside this Chamber who spent their lifetimes working to get this done, to say: Would you just forget all that nonsense back in the 1930s about bank failures and Glass-Steagall and the requirement to separate risk from banking enterprises; just forget all that. Time has moved on. Let's understand that. Change with the times.

    We have folks outside who have worked on this very hard and who very much want this to happen. We have a lot of folks in here who are very compliant to say: Absolutely, let me be the lead singer. And here we are. We have this bill, which I will bet, in 5, 10, 15 years from now, we will be back thinking of this bill like we thought of the bill passed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which this Congress unhitched the savings and loans so some sleepy little Texas institution could gather brokered deposits from all around America and, like a giant rocket, become a huge enterprise. And guess what. With all the speculation in the S&Ls and brokered deposits and all the things that went with it that this Congress allowed, what did it cost the American taxpayer to bail out that bunch of failures? What did it cost? Hundreds of billions of dollars. I will bet one day somebody is going to look back at this and they are going to say: How on Earth could we have thought it made sense to allow the banking industry to concentrate, through merger and acquisition, to become bigger and bigger and bigger; far more firms in the category of too big to fail? How did we think that was going to help this country? Then to decide we shall fuse it with inherently risky enterprises, how did we think that was going to avoid the lessons of the past ?

    Then the one question that bothers me, I guess, is--I understand what is in this for banks. I understand what is in it for the security firms. I understand what is in it for all the enterprises. What is in this for the American people? What is in it for the American people? Higher charges, higher fees? Do you know that some banks these days are charging people to see their money? We know that because we pay fees, obviously, to access our money at bank machines. But credit card companies, most of them through banks, are charging people who pay their bills on time because you cannot make money off somebody who wants to pay their bill every month.

    If you have a credit card balance--incidentally, you need a credit card these days, because it is pretty hard to do business in cash in some places. You know with all the bills, everybody wants to use credit cards. Many businesses want you to use credit cards. So you use credit cards, then you pay off the entire balance at the end of every month because you don't want to pay the interest. Some companies have decided you should be penalized for paying off your whole balance. Isn't that interesting? You talk about turning logic on its head, suggesting we don't make money on people who pay off their credit card balance every month, so let us decide that our approach to banking is to say those who pay their credit card bill off every month shall be penalized.

    Turning logic on its head? I think so. As I said when I started, I am likely to be branded as hopelessly old fashioned on these issues, and I accept that. I suspect that some day in some way others will scratch their heads and say, ``I wish we had been a bit more old fashioned in the way we assessed risk and the way we read history and the way we evaluated what would have made sense going forward in modernizing our financial institutions.''

  5. Oh, there is a way to modernize them all right, but it is not to be a parrot and say because the industry has moved in this direction, we must now move in this direction and catch them and circle them to say it is fine that you are here now. That is not the appropriate way to address the fundamental challenges we have in the financial services industry.

    I am not anti-bank, anti-security or anti-insurance. All of them play a constructive role and important role in this country. But this country will be better served with aggressive antitrust enforcement, with, in my judgment, fewer mergers, with fewer companies moving in to the ``too big to fail'' category of the Federal Reserve Board, with less concentration.

    This country will be better served if we have tighter controls, not firewalls that allow these companies to come together and do inherently risky things adjacent to banking enterprises, but to decide the lessons of the 1930s are indelible transcendental lessons we ought to learn and ought to remember.

    Mr. President, I have more to say, but I understand my time is about to expire.

  6. Yeah ... as soon as the holes were allowed the greediest ran for them so as to get the best deals
    and leverage their growth, influence and power brokering ... like Goldman Sachs.

    Profitable move on their part to get license to rape and pillage.

    I suspect a Bassel 3 accord and debt monetization effort might be in the works. Might even be inevitable.
  7. forex-tom


    quite interesting to read posts posted back then in uncertainty and to see it's all happening now.. .
  8. missbaker


    The Glass-Steagall is an act passed by Congress in 1933 that prohibited commercial banks from collaborating with full-service brokerage firms or participating in investment banking activities. But now, there has been news that one of the men who spoke out the loudest against Glass-Steagall in the 1990s now states he would like to rebuild the dividing wall between investment and commercial banks. Critics say great, but why didn't he see that before the Good Recession? Read on.. Glass-Steagall breaker wants to separate banks
  9. piezoe


    That was a very bright and capable collection of Senators who voted against the bill. I didn't read everything above so perhaps this is covered somewhere, but a year or so prior to the Bill's final passage Citibank (not sure of the name then) and Travelers Insurance merged. This was a violation of Glass-Steagall. A few months later, the Fed formally granted a temporary reprieve from having to comply. In the meantime lobbyists worked fast and furious to push through the legislation that would repeal Glass-Steagall and make the merger of Citi and Travelers legal, after the fact of course. Gramm was the one to spearhead the effort. I am not certain of this, but it is my recollection that the bill was actually attached to a must pass omnibus spending bill in the waning hours of the Clinton Presidency. And although there had been previous failed attempts to get such a measure pushed through the Senate, this time the measure passed with only minimal debate. Dorgan was prescient in his remarks, and predicted almost exactly what would transpire.

    Incidentally Wendy Gramm, Phil Gramm's wife, was one of Reagan's chief economic advisors. In fact Reagan once said she was his favorite economist. Wendy went to the CFTC. As chair she moved to exempt Enron swap transactions from government oversight. Then a few months later turned up on the Enron board of directors. Phil Gramm figured in this business as well. Here are the details:

    (I believe Phil Gramm currently works for the Swiss Bank UBS.)