The Six Most Dangerous Government Sponsored Enterprises

Robert Borosage

Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is a principled conservative who understands how financial oligopolies can loot a nation. He’s been warning about the inadequacy of financial reforms in relation to the big banks. In a recent blog post on Bill Daley’s nomination, he summarizes the stark and terrifying reality of where we are (emphasis added):

Today’s most dangerous government sponsored enterprises are the largest six bank holding companies: JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

They are undoubtedly too big to fail – if they were on the brink of failure, they would be rescued by the government, in the sense that their creditors would be protected 100 percent. The market knows this and, as a result, these large institutions can borrow more cheaply than their smaller competitors. This lets them stay big and – amazingly – get bigger.

In the latest available data (Q3 of 2010), the big 6 had assets worth 64 percent of GDP. This is up from before the crisis – assets in the big six at the end of 2006 were only about 55 percent of GDP. And this is up massively from 1995, when these same banks (some of which had different names back then) were only 17 percent of GDP.

No one can show significant social benefits from the increase in bank size, leverage, and overall riskiness over the past 15 years. The social costs of these banks – and their complete capture of the regulatory apparatus – are apparent in the worst recession and slowest recovery since the 1930s.

Paul Volcker gets it; no wonder he has resigned…

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