Washington, DC – Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Angus King (I-ME) today will re-introduce the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, a modern version of the Banking Act of 1933 (Glass-Steagall) that reduces risk for the American taxpayer in the financial system and decreases the likelihood of future financial crises.
The legislation, first introduced in the 113th Congress by Senators Warren, McCain, Cantwell and King, would separate traditional banks that have savings and checking accounts and are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from riskier financial institutions that offer services such as investment banking, insurance, swaps dealing, and hedge fund and private equity activities. The bill would clarify regulatory interpretations of banking law provisions that undermined the protections under the original Glass-Steagall and would make “Too Big to Fail” institutions smaller and safer, minimizing the likelihood of a government bailout.
“Despite the progress we’ve made since 2008, the biggest banks continue to threaten our economy,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “The biggest banks are collectively much larger than they were before the crisis, and they continue to engage in dangerous practices that could once again crash our economy. The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act will rebuild the wall between commercial and investment banking and make our financial system more stable and secure.”
“Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, shattering the wall dividing commercial banks and investment banks, a culture of dangerous greed and excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world,” said Senator John McCain. “Big Wall Street institutions should be free to engage in transactions with significant risk, but not with federally insured deposits. If enacted, the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act would not end Too-Big-to-Fail. But, it would rebuild the wall between commercial and investment banking that was in place for over 60 years, restore confidence in the system, and reduce risk for the American taxpayer.”
“American’s have suffered enough from big banks making them their deep pockets for reckless behavior. It’s time to separate commercial from investment banking,” Senator Maria Cantwell said.
The original Glass-Steagall legislation was introduced in response to the financial crash of 1929 and separated depository banks from investment banks. The idea was to divide the risky activities of investment banks from the core depository functions that consumers rely upon every day. Starting in the 1980s, regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reinterpreted longstanding legal terms in ways that slowly broke down the wall between investment and depository banking and weakened Glass-Steagall. In 1999, after 12 attempts at repeal, Congress passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to repeal the core provisions of Glass-Steagall.