Congress to be hit with hard push to restore Glass-Steagall banking law

Bank

Photo Credit USNews.com

WASHINGTON – As America’s workforce continues to shrivel in a stalled economy, a political activist group is calling for a “National Week of Action,” beginning Monday.

With Congress returning to Capitol Hill, proponents of the Glass-Steagall banking law will renew their push to rebuild the wall that once separated commercial banking from more risky investment brokerages.

HR 129 – The Return to Prudent Banking Act– has 60 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House. Four states have passed resolutions calling for reimplementation of Glass-Steagall, and a dozen other legislatures, including Virginia’s, are considering similar measures.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, introduced HR 129 to restore Glass-Steagall, saying, “The response of Congress to the 2008 financial crisis has been completely inadequate.”

The Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999 under pressure from Wall Street bankers trafficking in bundled subprime mortgages, derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps and the like. Inventing evermore exotic investment vehicles, the money movers pumped up a global financial bubble that eventually burst.

No senators have yet signed on to restoring the protective shield of Glass-Steagall, but Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., broached the subject while questioning Federal Reserve and financial regulatory officials at a Banking Committee hearing in February.

“Glass-Steagall was put in place in 1933 to prevent exactly what happened to us,” Manchin said, referring to the 2008 collapse. “Why wouldn’t we have those protections?”

Kaptur said the financial crisis “caused the loss of 8.8 million jobs and $19.2 trillion of household wealth (while) the seven largest banks in the United States — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Metlife and Morgan Stanley (a spinoff of JPMorgan Chase) — hold nearly two-thirds of the entire nation’s financial assets.

“There is no reason that our savings or checking account deposits should be used as leverage so Wall Street’s megabanks can engage in speculative trading,” the Ohio lawmaker stated.

In a new book, “The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America,” Reagan administration budget director David Stockman writes about the positive restraining effects of Glass-Steagall.

“What we have (now) is massive fiscal stimulus; what we have is a Fed that creates serial bubbles,” concluded the former Republican congressman from Michigan.

Paul Gallagher, economics editor of Executive Intelligence Review, a weekly magazine published by Lyndon LaRouche’s political organization, says the restoration of Glass-Steagall is essential to America’s economic recovery.

“Commercial banks are not lending. Deposit levels in commercial banks are up $1.6 trillion since 2008 (due largely to increased printing of money by the Federal Reserve), but lending is down by $990 billion,” Gallagher told Examiner.com in an interview.

“Where has the money gone? Banks are rolling in excess cash reserves. The biggest banks are holding and investing to protect themselves against securities losses they know are coming.”

View slideshow: Glass-Steagall

 

April’s unemployment rate, while dipping to 7.5 percent, highlighted the split personality of the U.S. economy. Even as the Dow and other Wall Street indexes hit new highs – artificially inflated by the steady devaluation of the dollar — the nation’s labor pool continues to shrink.

Nearly one in five Americans aged 19-28 is out of work, according to Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan youth advocacy organization.

The group calculated the “effective youth unemployment rate” at 16.3 percent. The official U.S. figure is 11.5 percent, a number derived by not counting 1.7 million young adults who have quit looking for work.

“It isn’t like politicians care,” said Evan Feinberg, president of Generation Opportunity. “They spent (last month) pushing an Internet sales tax. Reckless policies coming from Washington continue to prevent the next generation from prospering.”

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan fought stricter financial regulations, reasoning that free markets will, over time, produce the best outcomes and that open competition would naturally weed out marginal players.

But Virginia state Sen. Dick Black, R-Leesburg, counters that “by separating traditional banking and high-risk investment banking, Glass-Steagall stabilized our banking system from 1933 to 1999.

“After it was repealed, ‘Too Big to Fail’ banks shifted their wildly speculative gambling losses to the backs of taxpayers. Some believe that has extended the Great Recession that plagues us still,” the senator told Examiner.com.

Urging Virginia’s congressional delegation to act, Black introduced Senate Joint Resolution 273, and Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, sponsored House Joint Resolution 600 — both seeking to restore Glass-Steagall.

Gallagher said “gambling debt” by U.S. financial institutions resembles the ruinous monetary policies of Europe, where unemployment rates are higher and nations teeter toward bankruptcy.

He said separating commercial banking from higher-risk investment activity is crucial to recovery, and he points to Iceland as a success story.

The volcanic island nation – which had become a playground for British and other global investors by the early 2000s – suffered an economic collapse before the U.S. financial bubble burst.

But unlike Washington, which spent hundreds of billions of dollars funding a Troubled Asset Relief Program, Iceland’s government refused to bail out banks.

“We didn’t pump money into the banks,” President Olafur Grimsson told the Washington Times. “Why do people consider banks so holy that they cannot go bankrupt?”

Grimsson viewed the decision as a choice between democracy and Wall Street. In a national referendum, Icelanders voted against any bank bailouts.

“Every doomsday scenario turned out to be wrong,” he noted.

Gallagher agrees, pointing out that Iceland now has a 5.5 percent unemployment rate.

“It hasn’t been a picnic, but their economy is doing well and they are in the process of enacting Glass-Steagall-like law,” Gallagher said.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a seasoned journalist with experience as a daily newspaper reporter, newsroom editor and online political writer. Kenric has worked at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers and numerous state and national awards for investigative articles ranging from business to education to politics.
From Around The Web
About Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a seasoned journalist with experience as a daily newspaper reporter, newsroom editor and online political writer. Kenric has worked at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers and numerous state and national awards for investigative articles ranging from business to education to politics.

  • Robin

    Excellent report Mr. Ward, as always.

  • Evelyn

    Wonderful to see Kenric Ward's writing back in Florida! Great story.

  • Jeff McKie

    I am gratified that attempts to restore Glass-Steagall have made it this far. This is the biggest single thing that Congress can do to restore our financial system.

    After that will come effective regulation of derivatives and straightening out the bond rating industry.

  • http://Bizpac Ted

    After all this country has been through with the problems in the banking sector, it would seem that this would be a good start to getting fixed. Who would really object to this at this point? I would add actual jail penalties, but that is just me. Too many of these bankers and investment gamblers used other people's money. When they won, they took the profits. When they lost, the investors lost their savings. These "managers" even had the stones to take a fee when the investment went bad. This was to compensate for the work they did "for the investor". Slime, slime, slime, slime.

  • Julie

    Well reinacting Glass-Steagall would be a good start.

    To me it looks like the banks have taken over our govt. The to big to fail policy is a complete disaster. If any bank is to big to fail that it'd cause a crisis to our entire system then they are to big to exist. Period. Break them up.

    I think that Mr. Ward and readers here might really enjoy the book "Leverage: How Cheap Money Will Destroy The World" by Karl Denninger. The thing I like most about the book is that it touches on solutions to this mess.

  • Ed McCarthy

    Had Glass Steagall not been repealed in 1999, then there Travelers (Insurance) and Citibank (Bank) could not have merged to create Citicorp. Had it not been repealed, then AIG (Insurance) could not have run a Hedge Fund (Investments) inside their insurance corporate structure. They could not have engaged in those credit derivative swaps and other risky ventures that brought it down at taxpayers and stockholder expense. We all saw what that brought on! These two are just examples of the consequences of the repeal of Glass Steagall . It’s time to repeal the Financial Modernization Act of 1999 and restore Glass Steagall. Breaking up the Mega Banks / Insurers, won’t be unlike the breakup of Standard Oil in the early 1900’s, the separated corporations will go their own way.

  • Doug Hanks

    It looks like readers from all stripes agree that this is a good idea. So the chance of enactment is zero.

  • Pingback: Mobility Matters: Getting to Mobile Banking 2.0 – Credit Union Times | Online Banking()

  • Roger Beall

    The reinstatement of the Glass Steagall Act has been introduced in US Senate by Senator Tom Harkins S-985….

  • http://ex-wife.getyour-exback.com/proven-method-to-back-ex-get-wife Anya

    Hi there, yes this paragraph is actually fastidious and I have learned lot

    of things from it about blogging. thanks.