Tag Archives: Richard Fisher

Why Not Break-Up Citigroup?

By Simon Johnson

Earlier this week, Richard Fisher – President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank – captured the growing political mood with regard to very large banks:  “I believe that too-big-to-fail banks are too-dangerous-to-permit.” Market-forces don’t work with the biggest banks at their current sizes; they have great political power and receive almost unlimited implicit subsidies in the form of protection against downside risks – particularly in situations like now, with the European financial situation looking precarious.

“Downsizing the behemoths over time into institutions that can be prudently managed and regulated across borders is the appropriate policy response. Then, creative destruction can work its wonders in the financial sector, just as it does elsewhere in our economy.”

Mr. Fisher is an experienced public official – and also someone with a great deal of experience in financial markets, including running his own funds-management firm.  I increasingly meet leading figures in the financial sector who share Mr. Fisher’s views, at least in private.

What then is the case in favor of keeping mega-banks at their current scale?  Vague claims are sometimes made, but there is very little hard evidence and often a lack of candor on that side of the argument.  So it is refreshing to see Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, go on the record with The Banker magazine to at least explain how his bank will generate shareholder value.  (The interview is behind a paywall, unfortunately). Continue reading

Richard Fisher (Federal Reserve Bank Of Dallas): Larry Summers, The G20, And Financial Dementia

By Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and The Next Financial Meltdown

Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, has long been a proponent of serious financial sector reform.  As a former commercial banker, he sees quite clearly that the legislation now headed into “reconciliation” between House and Senate versions amounts to very little.  He also knows that pounding away repeatedly on this theme is the best way to influence his colleagues within the Fed and across the policy community more broadly.

He is now taking his game to a new, higher level.  Couched in the diplomatic language of senior officials, his speech on June 3 to the SW Graduate School of Banking was both a carefully calibrated assault on the administration’s general “softly, softly” approach to the big banks and a direct refutation of arguments put forward by Larry Summers in particular. 

As the title of Mr. Fisher’s speech implies, if the legislation is not real financial reform (and it is not, according to him), then our current policy trajectory amounts to facilitating further rounds of financial dementia. Continue reading