Seven years ago, Wall Street’s high-risk bets brought our economy to its knees.
We’ve made progress since then. The Dodd-Frank Act was the strongest financial reform law in three generations, and it gave regulators a number of common-sense tools to prevent future crises.
But let’s get real: Dodd-Frank did not end the “too big to fail” problem – the problem posed by financial institutions that are so large that their failure would threaten the whole economy. Last summer, both the Fed and FDIC reported publicly that eleven of the big banks were still so risky that if any one of them started to fail, they would need a government bailout or they would risk taking down the American economy – again.
That’s not a statistic that should make anyone sleep well tonight.
That’s why I’ve partnered with Senators John McCain, Maria Cantwell, and Angus King to reintroduce the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, a bill to reduce taxpayers’ risk in the financial system and decrease the likelihood of future financial crises. Sign up now to show your support.
Four years after the 1929 Wall Street crash, Congress passed the original Glass-Steagall Act to build a wall between boring, commercial banking – savings and checking accounts – and riskier investment banking.
The idea was simple: If banks want access to government-provided deposit insurance, they should be limited to boring banking. If the banks want to engage in high-risk trading, they can go for it – but they can’t get access to insured deposits and put the taxpayer on the hook for some of the risk.
The Glass-Steagall Act laid the groundwork for a half century of financial stability that helped create a robust and thriving middle class. But the commercial banks wanted higher profits and the investment banks wanted access to all that cash in checking accounts, so they starting lobbying Washington to end Glass-Steagall. Finally, in the 1980s, regulators began buckling under pressure from the banks and began poking holes in the wall between investment and commercial banking. In 1999, after 12 separate attempts, Congress repealed most of Glass-Steagall. And in 2008, “too big to fail” was born.
The bill we’re reintroducing this week will rebuild the wall between commercial banks and investment banks – with new protections to fill some of the holes punched in the original bill and to cover products that didn’t exist in 1933. It won’t end “too big to fail” all by itself, but it will reduce risk in the system and make financial institutions smaller and safer.
Sign up now to show your support for the bipartisan 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. Let’s make banks choose: Take big risks using investors’ money or be very careful using depositors’ money – but no more mixing the two.
The big banks and their executives have recovered handsomely from the crisis they helped create, while too many other Americans are still scraping to get by.
We weren’t sent to Washington to work for the big banks. It’s time for a banking system that serves the best interests of the American people.