Once there was a law that could have prevented all this …

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 Just as unsurprisingly it was repealed in 1999 at a time when lawmakers and business no longer thought that “what goes up must come down” still applied to the economy.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.

One thought on “Once there was a law that could have prevented all this …

  1. following McArdle:

    http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/09/clear_as_glass_steagall.php

    this doesn’t hold water. Securitization has been around since the 70s. The massive of leverage of Bear/Goldman/Merrill/Lehman was a result of a SEC rule change in 04, lending standard became wonky not because of a ’99 repeal but because of independent mortgage originators, and two consecutive years of FED Funds rate below 2% had more to do with creating the explosion of credit and subsequent crash.

    I will note, however, that the ability of BofA to buy Merrill (and thus prevent another Bear or Lehman style failure) was a result of the repeal of those specific portions of Glass Steagle.

    So Bill Clinton helped to solve the credit crisis.

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