Tell Congress: End Too-Big-To-Fail. Make Banking SAFE
May 17th, 2012
The top five banks now control 52 percent of the financial industry’s assets; they had 17 percent in 1970. The six largest banks control assets equal to 62 percent of the nation’s gross national product. They may be not only too big to fail, but also too big to save.
The biggest of them, Dimon’s JPMorgan Chase, has $2.1 trillion in assets and more than 239,000 employees. The bank’s recent bad bet that now amounts to $3 trillion, is a clear indication of the need for serious reform.
Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Keith Ellison have introduced a measure to cut too-big-to-fail banks down to size. The SAFE (Safe, Accountable, Fair and Efficient) Banking Act would put in place an important element missing from the financial reform legislation of two years ago: a cap on how big banks can get. The bank lobby defeated all efforts to include a limit on their size.
Now the six largest banks – led by JPMorgan Chase – are collectively larger and more concentrated than they were before they blew up the economy, with the assets they control growing from $6.1 trillion before the collapse to more than $8.5 trillion today, according to Federal Reserve data.
Wall Street lobbyists have successfully delayed and diluted regulations that were supposed to flow from the Wall Street reform bill. And the big banks have ways to push their way around any barriers.
We need a fail-safe. If a bank can’t be too big, then it can’t be too big to fail.
Among the provisions of the Safe Banking Act are that no bank could hold more than 10 percent of all of the insured bank deposits in the country, nor could a bank holding company have non-deposit liabilities greater than 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
By the standards in the SAFE Banking Act, four existing banks are currently above the size cap—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo—and would have to shrink. This would be a major step in making banking sober—and boring, as it should be—once again.