Breaking Up America's Big Banks is Key to Averting Future Financial Crises

Posted Jan. 13, 2016

MP3 Interview with Marcus Stanley, policy director with the group Americans for Financial Reform, conducted by Scott Harris

banks

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, independent senator of Vermont, has long supported legislation that would break up America's largest banks, a measure also backed by Massachusetts' Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other progressive legislators and economists. As he campaigns to win the Democratic party nomination, Sanders says, "We must break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions. Those institutions received a $700 billion bailout from the U.S. taxpayers, and more than $16 trillion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve. He maintains these institutions have acquired too much economic and political power, endangering our economy and our political process."

Many economists assert that 1999 legislation, supported by Democratic President Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans that deregulated the nation’s big banks, contributed to the 2008 financial crisis that triggered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Among the laws scrapped under the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act were the 1933 Depression-era Glass Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banking.

Today, Bernie Sanders' candidacy is focusing renewed public attention on proposals to impose tougher regulations on big banks and Wall Street, measures that public opinion polls find receive strong bipartisan support. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Marcus Stanley, policy director with the group Americans for Financial Reform, who talks about why his group supports breaking up the nation's largest banks to avert future financial crises.

For more information visit Americans For Financial Reform at ourfinancialsecurity.org.

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