Simon Johnson and Robert Reich: Use Antitrust Laws to Break Up Too Big to Fails → Washingtons Blog
Simon Johnson and Robert Reich: Use Antitrust Laws to Break Up Too Big to Fails - Washingtons Blog

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Simon Johnson and Robert Reich: Use Antitrust Laws to Break Up Too Big to Fails

I have previously argued that we should use antitrust laws to break up the too big to fails.

Since I made that argument, economists Simon Johnson and Robert Reich have both said the same thing.

Specifically, former head IMF economist Simon Johnson wrote:

Increasingly, the issue of “too big to regulate” in the public interest is being brought up – an issue that has historically attracted the interest of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division in sectors other than finance. Should Goldman Sachs now be placed in this category?
And former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote yesterday:
Neither the draft bill, nor the Committee, nor anyone on the Hill having anything to do with financial regulation, is raising what I consider to be the two key reforms necessary for avoiding another financial meltdown -- resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated commercial from investment banking, and applying antitrust laws to the remaining five biggest Wall Street banks so none is "too big to fail."


  1. Organized crime. The goal is monopoly. That's why no serious efforts are being made to address the real problem. The bad guys in Wall Street and Government are working together to force the American people under their criminal monopolistic control. Let's see what happens as we approach 2010. I think the "powers that be" know that a political tea party revolution is coming. Let's see how desperate they are to stop us from taking back OUR government and OUR economy as the American people.

  2. TBTF is only the tip of the iceberg resulting from the propagation of a false doctrine of "free markets" and "the invisible hand" of market equilibrium to justify deregulation, consolidation horizontally and vertically, and other gambits that lead inexorably to monopoly capital. The result is a tilting of the playing field in favor of capital (wealth) against labor (largely the middle class) in the name of maximizing “growth” based on "free market" principles. This is sheer propaganda.

    Monopoly capital is capable of subverting government by buying influence. The only economic counterbalance to monopoly is organized "labor" (that's everyone who works for a living) — not only through unions but also through effective political action organizations. The past several decades have seen a decline in the influence of labor, with the result that wages have been stagnant, and more people have slipped below the poverty level. This is neither accidental, nor a result of free market forces.

    While TBTF is prima facie evidence of monopoly, there are many other aspects of monopoly that need to be addressed and addressed quickly before the middle class is further depressed economically and psychologically as the American dream slips away from them and their children.

    Buzz words like "freedom," "free markets," and “free trade,” are being used to evoke powerful memes. Capitalism is equated with democracy and opposed to "socialism, which invariably leads to totalitarianism." The objective, of course, is to trick working people into acting against their best interests by supporting monopoly interests and opposing labor interests.

    The American people are being sold a bill of goods under the banner of freedom — free markets, free trade and free flow of capital. For example, people are just waking up to the result of "factor price equalization," which is leading to wage equalization around the world, with the result that Americans workers are losing their bargaining power, they are deeply indebted, and their standard of living is dropping.

    According to Wikipedia: "Factor price equalization is an economic theory, which states that the relative prices for two identical factors of production in the same market will eventually equal each other because of competition.... An often-cited example of factor price equalization is wages. When two countries enter a free trade agreement, wages for identical jobs in both countries tend to approach each other. After the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed, for instance, unskilled labor wages gradually fell in the United States, at the same time as they gradually rose in Mexico….”

    There is lot more at stake than TBTF. As factor price equalization shows, TBTF is just the surface dimension of the problem that the US is facing as the economy is transforming due to globalization. Of course, factor price equalization is just one element. There are many others with which to contend, most of which involve bridling an oligarchy.

    Unless people recognize the situation and band together to act on it intelligently, the American dream is soon going to be in serious decline, with the standard of living deteriorating for most people, while asset and income inequality grow. US wages will inevitably fall, and structural unemployment will rise. Most people lucky enough to have jobs will be condemned to debt peonage, indentured to the rent-seeking class that levies a private "tax" on the populace while it alone enjoys the protections of the government and access to the public coffer.

    But isn't this encouraging "class warfare?" Well, it depends on how you look at it. The fact is that class warfare is being waged against the middle class by the rich, powerful, and privileged, who are doing their best in pursuing self-interest to extend their wealth and power, often at the expense of the rest of the people — especially under the principle of privatizing the gains and socializing the losses. Is acting in self-defense "warfare?"

  3. Why would anyone do business with either of these wicked banks? I just dont understand why anyone would have anything to do with a TBTF monopoly!!

  4. I was doing legal research on international competition laws just as Reagan was refusing to enforce them here. As far as I can see, anti-trust enforcement is in Obama's court. However, once monopolies form it is quite dangerous to oppose them. Monopolistic banks are in a unique position to determine what companies (or even individuals) survive just by lending choices, and are in a position to coerce rash actions by those threatened. As far as advocating revolt with a bunch of pop guns, consider that the military industrial complex has privatized access to things like remote "non-lethal" crowd control and they, too, owe their continued existence to the lending practices of monopolistic banks. Furthermore, military leaders standing up for the Constitution were "retired" during the Bush reign in favor of those expecting future positions within the industry. The bankers now have more power than kings, especially since the mass media is corporately controlled. That has been the goal since the Templars formulated modern banking way back in time. Checkmate. The game board needs to be altered with a new view of economics. An end run, even.

  5. @Laura Lee: if you think the "Tea Party" is anything other than a way for the Republican party to regain power by tricking the people they've been screwing over for years into believing the Republicans will save them, you need to stop inhaling Glenn Back fumes and get a reality check. "Taking back the government for the people" has been a standard conservative meme every time they've been shown the door, and today it's mixed with a overtone of "get rid of the darkie".


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