By me, over at BlownMortgage.com:
Once upon a time the US actually had a law in place that would have at least hindered the current mess. Not surprisingly, that legislation – the Glass-Steagall Act – came out of the Great Depression. Just as unsurprisingly it was repealed in 1999 at a time when lawmakers and business no longer thought that “what goes up must come down” still applied to the economy.
Simply put, Glass-Steagall prevented the mingling of investment and commercial bank activities. If you did one, you couldn’t do the other. This happened because way back then it was thought that commercial banks were way too speculative – both with where they were investing their assets and also because they were buying stocks for resale to the public.