Thursday, May 24, 2012

Compromise on Wall Street

If we are to get out of the mess that deregulation of the financial industry has got us into, we need to compromise.  All sides need to admit that none is going to get everything.  Here's what I propose:

To the banks:  Agree to the re-enactment of the Glass-Steagall Act.  Banks will go back to being banks.  Investment-banking (not at all the same thing), insurance, commodity trading and all the other non-banking businesses that banks have entered will be spun off--not to separate divisions (even if independently capitalized), but to separate companies.  Banks that have more than a certain percentage of total banking capital will be broken up until no bank has more than a specified maximum that insures that no bank failure will endanger the system.  (I'm quick to note that I do not know what that percentage should be.  1/2 of 1%?  1%? 2%? 5%?  The latter seems too large to me, but perhaps a consensus of reputable economists would agree that it is not.)  

And in return, we agree to amnesty:  We won't put the bankers in jail for the criminal conduct that got us in so much trouble in 2008 and the following years.  

Now, is that fair, or what?

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