Michael Maiello's picture

    What If Bernie Broke Up The Banks?

    I'm not blogging politics right now because Infinite Jest.

    But if Rolling Stone has room for me, who am I to say no?

    Here's my take on what would happen if Bernie got his way on Wall Street.



    Congrats, Michael!  The big leagues!

    "Before the crisis, banks had huge trading floors full of mostly highly paid speculators. When the government pushed the banks out of that business, those speculators went into business for themselves as hedge funds." - sounds about like how ISIS got formed. Maybe we can link Wall Street into the Axis of Evil, send in troops - even waterboard?

    Way to go, Michael.

    This is a great piece, Michael. Congrats!

    PS Folks, this is actually Maiello's second piece at Rolling Stone. I news-linked the first one but nobody noticed. He's on a roll.

    PPS Ahem

    Excellent another piece to read to the alky's on my boat... Just boarding so I'll be reading it to them soon!

    Looking at the 2008 crash, a lot of the amplification of consequences came from how banks in other countries (or multinationals, if you will) took up toxic financial products and leveraged them to the max.

    If we broke up banks in the U.S., how would that change the larger picture?

    As far as big banks in the U.S. directly entangling deposits goes, wasn't Citibank the big bad boy? Their portion of the larger problem makes them a poor model of the problem.

    I am thinking that more focus is needed on permissible products and their regulation than getting involved with particular company structures.

    I suspect you're right.

    Also, one of the arguments against breaking up the banks or re-imposing Glass-Steagall is that the European banks and increasingly, banks elsewhere in the world, are not so constrained.  So it would only make sense if we barred those banks from doing business here (which I might be okay with but I doubt it's possible given our trade agreements in general).

    There is, to your point, the theory that the bailout of AIG was really a backdoor bailout of Deutsche Bank.  To have the Fed or the Treasury write a check to a giant German investment bank would not have been palatable, but to have them write the check to AIG, only for AIG to fork over the cash, was one degree of separation enough.

    The size of the crisis shows how all of them are connected even without the direct connection like AIG and Deutsche.

    In regards to new policies, my reading of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission causes me to support the call by Chairman Phil Angelides to kick some butt:

    Under Attorney General Loretta Lynch, DOJ has signaled a change in direction by adopting new policies that wisely seek accountability for wrongdoing from individuals, not inanimate corporate entities. Many have assumed that these policies came too late to affect illegal behavior committed in the run-up to the financial crisis. In fact, because of the 10-year statute of limitations for financial fraud affecting banks and other types of financial institutions, there is still time to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in 2006 and 2007 — the final period of wild excess before the mortgage market collapsed. But time is quickly running out.

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