Clinton repeal of Glass-Steagall faulty as seen today

Even as the Fed helped to stabilize the situation over the weekend, the stock market is down again on Monday morning. What is alarming from our standpoint is that CIT, Lehman, and National City Corporation all are down – by 25 to 31 percent as we write this. Liquidity questions surround Lehman after what we learned from Bear Sterns. Even JPMorgan needed help and considerations from the Fed to buy Bear Sterns for a reported $2 a share.

This issue now goes far beyond the mortgage blues of some lenders. There is no way that crazy wild-eyed mortgage brokers with lax standards could cause worldwide problems like this. President Bill Clinton repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which had prevented the coupling of investment banking and lending. To be exact, on November 12, 1999, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. One of the effects of the repeal is it allowed commercial and investment banks to consolidate. Economists have criticized the action.

Of course economists criticized the way in which the Bush administration manufactured money by allowing anybody and everybody the opportunity to buy or refinance homes. Economist Robert Kuttner has criticized the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act as contributing to the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.

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