The case for keeping banks in something close to their current structure begins to take shape. It’s not about traditional claims that big banks are more efficient, or Lloyd Blankfein’s argument that this is the only way to encourage risk-taking, or even the House Financial Services Committee view that immediate resumption of credit flows is essential for preserving jobs.
Rather, the argument is: those opposed to banks and bankers are angry populists who, if unchecked, would do great damage. Bankers should therefore agree to some mild reforms and more socially acceptable behavior in the short-run; in return, the centrists who control economic policymaking will protect them against the building backlash. This is a version of Jamie Dimon’s line: “if you let them vilify us too much, the economic recovery will be greatly delayed.”
There are three problems with this argument: it is wrong, it won’t work, and it doesn’t move the reform process at all in the right direction. Continue reading