Washington, DC — In an effort to address concerns that she is too closely tied to Wall Street interests, Democratic Presidential Primary candidate Hillary Clinton today announced that, when elected, she will order federal regulatory agencies to officially ban JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman-Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein from the financial industry. While most of the leaders of the bailed-out banks from the 2008 financial crisis have moved on, Dimon and Blankfein remain in charge of two of the largest firms in the industry. These firms have recently and repeatedly been subject to conspicuously large fines for various episodes of misconduct.
At a campaign appearance in Conway, South Carolina, she said the following: “While my opponents want to retreat behind clumsy, outdated law, I say we must not needlessly restrain the innovative, dynamic men and women of our financial industry. To hold Wall Street back is to hold Main Street back, and I say, together, we ALL must move forward. That said, like any system, this one cannot work without accountability, and we will hold people accountable. After year upon year of fine after fine after record-setting fine, for activities that occurred entirely on their watch, Mr Blankfein and Mr Dimon have, by this point, conclusively demonstrated that they lack either the character or competence to run their organizations in a responsible manner. My administration will not allow them continue in these critical roles”.
The “clumsy, outdated law” to which Mrs. Clinton refers is the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which prevented commercial banks from engaging in high risk investment banking activities until it was repealed during President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1999. It is a major point of contention between Mrs. Clinton and her rival in the Democratic Presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt) who favors it. Such legislation also enjoys prominent bi-partisan support in the Senate. Its restoration is the subject of a bill co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma) and John McCain (R-Az).
University of California Economics professor J. Allerton “Al” deShort , a high-ranking deputy in President Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department led by Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin, was one of the leading policy architects behind the financial sector de-regulation of that era. He recently posted the following on his blog, “I still believe that a modern, fluid financial sector can fund a more vibrant economy than one constrained by 1930’s laws, but even more than in most other cases, rules must be followed. The whole game hinges on transparency. As we’ve seen, the costs of abuse are catastrophic. All these men have produced since 2008 is an unrelieved litany of failure and fraud: the London Whale scandal, selling falsely rated mortgages to government agencies, rigging LIBOR, flash trading, etc. A financial sector that repeatedly fails to accurately price risk is worse than useless. A financial sector that allows such recidivists to run its largest institutions is doomed.”
University of Kansas professor of Economics and Law Neil Negron had an even more caustic view. Negron, who as a prosecutor secured hundreds of convictions during the late 1980’s Saving and Loan scandal, was a signatory of former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s recent petition to re-instate Glass-Steagall legislation. “If Blankfein and Dimon were running a mortgage brokerage in Falls Church, they would have been banned from the industry ages ago and probably done a year in minimum security (prison). As long as guys like this have their hooks into Main Street’s commercial banks, they know that, just like in 2008, they will never face charges no matter how naked a fraud they’ve committed, and that a 100% bailout is coming because they’ll say it would cause bank runs and panic to do any less. The fines against the companies affect these actual criminals not one whit. This small proposed step, after 7 years of utter indifference by (Attorneys-General Eric) Holder and (Loretta) Lynch, is but a sad joke.”
George Spiggott, spokesman for the US Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business lobbying group, issued a statement decrying the proposal as “Lynching, the Holocaust, and the Rape of Nanking combined. It is a hideous overreach by a fascist government into the private affairs of” these federally insured institutions that have nearly unlimited discount borrowing lines funded by the public.