I am concerned about declining confidence in the US banking sector. Recently CNBC and Bloomberg have been discussing problems at the German bank Deutsche Bank. More disturbing for Americans, declining stock prices for big American banks indicate a lack of confidence in the whole industry. Dodd-Frank was supposed to protect us from bank failures, but today Sen. Elizabeth Warren grilled Fed Chair Janet Yellen at length about problems with “living wills” for banks that fail.
I am concerned that American banks are still too big to fail, and that Dodd-Frank has failed to keep them from engaging in risky activities that could create a global financial catastrophe. Dodd-Frank and the Volker rule have failed to fill the gap created by President Clinton’s elimination of Glass-Steagall.
I would like to see Glass-Steagall re-enacted. At a minimum we need to make big banks smaller and rein in their riskier trading activities. I am alarmed to see the stock market illustrate Wall Street’s lack of confidence in its own big banks like JP Morgan-Chase and Goldman Sachs.
Related to this is, I believe, is the issue of income inequality. There has been talk of lack of liquidity surrounding the current unsettled bank environment. One problem with consolidating all the nation’s wealth in a few hands is that the few hundred families who control that wealth may all decide at once to do the same thing, e.g., sell bonds. If they all act at once, there will be no one to buy bonds, for example. Prices would plunge, and we would be back in another financial crisis. To some extent this is what happened in the 1929 market crash, when like today, much wealth was held by a few extremely wealthy people. The aggregation of wealth means that markets become smaller, controlled by a few people. and more susceptible to volatility. As markets become dominated by a few players, the country becomes less capitalistic and more oligopolistic. This is what happened to Russia under Yeltsin. I hate to see America following the Russian model.