Experts Say Bills Won't End 'Too Big To Fail'

We at Planet Money did an informal survey of economists and regulatory experts on the left and the right. We couldn't find any who fully endorse the reforms backed by President Obama and Democrats in Congress.

Everyone thinks the reforms just aren't enough to solve the problem.

Take, for example, "too big to fail" — the idea that if one of the largest banks in the country gets into trouble, the government will save it with taxpayer money.

"A vote for reform is a vote to put a stop to taxpayer-funded bailouts," Obama said in his speech in New York on Thursday.

I cannot find any experts — of any party — who are willing to agree with Obama on this one.

"We're not seeing a very forceful step on the too-big-to-fail problem," said Carmen Reinhart, an economist at the University of Maryland. "If there's any doubt that the crisis may be systemic, we will bail out again."

So, if a major bank says, "Hey, save us or the economy will go under," the government's going to save the bank. Full stop.

We did find one expert, Doug Elliott of the Brookings Institution, who is actually a huge fan of the regulatory reform bills. He says they bring a bunch of changes that make our economy safer.

But they don't end too big to fail, he said. The only way to do that is to break them up so that "they're so small that we don't care" if they fail.

This is close to a consensus view among the experts. Some say that's a good idea, some say it isn't. But most say that unless you chop up the big banks into lots of small banks, you won't end too big to fail.

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