TOO BIG TO FAIL AND GETTING BIGGER
Remember those scary days six summers ago when the ground began shaking beneath our feet? Banks and other businesses had borrowed too much money and indulged in too many questionable practices while their supposed regulators in government looked the other way. In the worst crash since 1929, the entire financial system trembled and almost fell apart. As government and central banks pumped massive amounts of money into the banks and the economy, the stock market turned around and the panic subsided. Nonetheless, millions of everyday Americans lost their jobs or saw their homes foreclosed, or both, and are still hurting, while the one percent reaps new wealth -- the culpable bankers among them. The banks have completely ignored the lessons of 2008 and are indulging in the same behaviors that got us into such serious trouble. That's unacceptable, says economist Anat Admati, co-author of the book, The Bankers' New Clothes. Real reform is the only answer or the next meltdown could be fatal. This week on Moyers & Company (check local listings), Admati tells Bill Moyers, "What we have is a really unhealthy system that we perversely get talked into subsidizing and supporting. The financial system continues to be fragile and the banks continue to live dangerously. And when you speed at 100 miles an hour, you might explode and harm other people." As for reform, Admati says, "We have some tweaks. We have messy, unfocused efforts. But we haven't really gotten to the heart of the matter and really managed to control this system effectively. "Banks have to do much less of their business with borrowed money - a whopping 95% off their investments are made with it now -- and not be able to always rely on government for a bailout: "I'm not saying it's the silver bullet and the only thing. But it's the no-brainer thing to do because it would only reduce all the distortion and correct what's wrong now. And almost everything that's wrong basically comes down to too much bank borrowing and bad regulation." Anat Admati is the George G.C. Parker professor of finance and economics at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. She has served on the board of the American Finance Association and is an advisor to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. She's been at the forefront of the debate on how best to regulate our banks and is one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People for 2014.