Is it Possible to Re-Privatize the U.S. Financial System?
Networks Financial Institute Policy Brief 2009-PB-11, December 2009
37 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2009
Date Written: December 1, 2009
Since the 1930s, when the U.S. Congress interposed government regulation of banks for market discipline, the role of the state in the American financial system has steadily grown. While politicians and executives from the financial services industry characterize the relationship as a “partnership,” the degree of control exercised by state and federal government over banks and other financial intermediaries has grown enormously over the years - even as the influence exercised over Washington by the largest banks has increased to the same degree. The growth of government involvement in finance, coupled with the growing federal debt and the rising political sway of the large, “too big to fail” banks that act as dealers in U.S. government debt, raise troubling questions about the future of American democracy. This paper briefly reviews the growth in the role of the government in regulating and supporting the operations of banks and other financial intermediaries since the Great Depression and before. The paper concludes by asking whether this socialization of the risks taken by financial institutions and risk in general, and the growing political power of some of the largest financial services corporations in the world, can be reversed or even should be if consolidation and ever larger banks are the norm. About the Author: Christopher Whalen is cofounder of Institutional Risk Analytics (IRA), the Los Angeles based provider of risk management tools and consulting services for auditors, regulators and financial professionals. Whalen leads IRA’s risk advisory practice and consults for global companies on a variety of financial and regulatory issues. He volunteers as a regional director of Professional Risk Managers International Association and is a board adviser to I-OnAsia, a global business security and risk consultancy based in Hong Kong. Whalen currently edits The Institutional Risk Analyst, a weekly news report and commentary on significant developments in and around the global financial markets. He has testified before Congress and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on a variety of issues and contributes articles and commentaries to publications such as The International Economy, American Banker and The Big Picture.
Keywords: Banking, Currency, Inflation, Regulation, Crisis
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