Italy Guns For Glass-Steagall-Type Law to Break Up Banks, Cut Bailout Costs for Taxpayers

The banking lobby and the ECB will have a cow.

By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

On Friday, Italy’s coalition government unveiled new banking regulations that it hopes to pass in the coming months, including a rule that would separate banks’ commercial and investment arms. It would be the Italian equivalent of the Glass-Steagall Act, the 1933 U.S. law that separated commercial banks that took deposits, made loans, and processed transaction, from riskier investment banking activities. The law was designed to protect deposits. Its repeal in 1999 led to the consolidation of the U.S. banking sector, unfettered risk-taking by deposit-taking banks, and arguably the Financial Crisis just eight years later.

In Italy investment and commercial banks have been able to operate in unison since 1993, but that could all change if this new law is passed. Breaking up the banks would remove a lot of the risk, such as derivatives and other speculative instruments, from Italy’s deposit-taking banks. Without these hedge-fund and investment-banking activities, large banks such as Unicredit and Intesa Saopaolo would become smaller, less interconnected and less systemically risky.

In an economy as large, chronically weak and systemically risky as Italy’s, that would be no bad thing. The country has already experienced a string of bank collapses in the last couple of years.

Less than a month ago, Italy’s populist government, in its eighth month in power, held its nose, ate its words, and agreed to bail out mid-sized Banca Carige with public funds, adopting virtually the exact same playbook it had criticized its predecessor for using in the previous three bank resolutions.

If the government needs to pour capital into Carige it will take full control of the lender, Deputy Prime Minister Di Maio told parliament’s lower house on Friday. Di Maio, who is also industry and labor minister, said that after its precautionary capitalization, Carige, with the State’s help, “will become a bank for citizens”. In other words, it will be a full-blown bank nationalization, which both the European Commission and the ECB are likely to oppose.

The Italian government is already the majority owner of the perennially troubled Tuscan bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) following the Gentiloni administration’s controversial bailout of the lender in 2017. Despite having billions of euros of public funds poured onto its balance sheet, and many of its worst assets taken off its books, the 547-year-old bank is still not nearly out of the woods.

A couple of weeks ago, its shares, which have lost almost three-quarters of their value since being relaunched in October 2017, were halted after plunging on news that the ECB had cautioned the lender about potential funding and profitability risks it faced as well as its weakened capital position. The central bank also told MPS to boost provisions against bad loans in the coming years. Even following a record €24 billion sale of bad loans, MPS’ soured loans are still equivalent to almost a fifth of its total lending.

Italy’s banking sector as a whole holds the largest stock of non-performing loans (NPLs) in the EU. The total gross stock of NPLs decreased by approximately €50 billion during the first six months of €238 billion thanks to a combination of direct sales and securitizations backed by the GACS (Garanzia Cartolarizzazione Sofferenze) Government Guarantee Scheme, according to the credit ratings agency DRBS. Italy’s gross NPL ratio is now down to 12.5% from a mind-boggling peak of 18.2% in 2015. But it’s still three times the EU average, which itself is verging on the high side.

Italy’s NPL problem could be exacerbated by the economy’s recent slowdown. Economic output as measured by GDP shrank by 0.2% in the fourth quarter, following a 0.1% drop in the third quarter, statistics agency Istat reported on Thursday, putting Italy once again in a “technical recession.” The declines are small for now, but if they pick up momentum, triggering a fresh cascade of bankruptcies, job losses, and mortgage defaults, the banks’ NPL problems would swell with renewed vigor.

This is all happening at a time that monetary conditions in the Eurozone are beginning to tighten. While the ECB’s Main Refinancing Operations Announcement Rate remains anchored at 0%, the central bank has finally ended its four-year QE program, one of the largest expansionary monetary experiments of recorded history. Since QE funds were instrumental in keeping a lid on Italian sovereign bond yields, this is bad news for both the Italian government and the Italian banks that are among the biggest holders of Italian government debt.

The ECB’s multiyear virtually-free-loans-for-banks (LTRO or TLTRO) program has also, for now, apparently run its course. ECB Chairman Mario Draghi recently said there are no plans to launch a new round of LTRO loans unless there were guarantees that such funds would translate into lower lending rates for bank customers. This is bad news for Italian banks since they were the biggest recipients of the funds, accounting for one-third of the total money issued.

It is against this backdrop that Italy’s populist government now seeks to launch its own version of the Glass Steagall act. But getting it passed and implemented is likely to be a gargantuan feat given the already parlous state of Italy’s rickety banking system — and it’s going to do nothing to alleviate the NPL problem.

The bill will face stiff opposition from the domestic banking sector as well as the European Commission, which in 2017, under pressure from Europe’s banking lobbies,abandoned its own pledge to break-up too-big-to-fail lenders.

Since the global financial crisis, big banks on both sides of the Atlantic have been fighting tooth and nail all regulatory attempts to split their deposit-taking commercial units from their riskier investment banking units. Such legislation would would make each entity smaller. And that is not in the interests of the big banks, nor the ECB, which hopes to breathe life into a new generation of trans-European super-banks by serving as matchmaker to Europe’s largest domestic lenders.  By Don Quijones.

Desperate measures for desperate times? Read…  Lloyds Bank Resurrects 0%-Down Adjustable-Rate Mortgages for First-Time Buyers to Prop Up UK’s Housing Market 
 

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  45 comments for “Italy Guns For Glass-Steagall-Type Law to Break Up Banks, Cut Bailout Costs for Taxpayers

  1. Manuel
    Feb 3, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    Italy on the right path but I doubt it will be allowed.

    The ultimate goal is that there won’t be a solvent bank.

    Than central banks will bailout the remaining banks aka GSIBs.

    Doing this central banks will have to be bailed out themselves.

    BIS or FMI or other commie organization will finally bailout BCE BOJ FED SNB BoE with more much moar confetti money.

    Better Intel and AMD get those CPUs some more extra bits.

    Laughable this capitalism

    • yngso
      Feb 6, 2019 at 7:59 am

      IMF SDRS next?

  2. Bankers
    Feb 3, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    It is definitely not what the EU encourages. This is a slightly outdated chart of fusions for Spain:

    https://www.ecestaticos.com/file/7d248c187deca842b5d6df959fecf100/1496839761-20170607fusionbancos-01-01.svg

    much of that was only achieved by issuing government guarantees, all of which had to pass approval in terms of non-subsidy (not taxpayer liability you will note). EU is for centralised control of the banking sector, how else is it going to justify turning off the tap to ordinary deposits to politically shame the investment world and implement its own form of national restructuring.

  3. 2banana
    Feb 3, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    The 1999 Clinton repeal of Glass-Steagall Act lead America directly to “too big to fail” and “too big to prosecute.”

    The Clinton massive expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) with Janet ” “No loan is exempt, no bank is immune…For those who thumb their nose at us, I promise vigorous enforcement” Reno as U.S. Attorney General lead directly to the first housing bubble.

    Getting rid of just these two massive mistakes (re-induction of Glass-Steagall and repealing CRA) would go along away to avoiding and reducing future bubbles (along with the Great QE unwind and “normal” interest rates).

    • Feb 3, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      2banana,

      Let me remind you that the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, which among other things repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, was put together and passed by a Republican Congress and was then presented to Bill Clinton for signature. Make sure you spread the blame to all involved.

      Already, by the time the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act was passed, regulators including the Fed had reinterpreted what Glass-Steagall meant, and much it had already been obviated by what banks were actually doing.

      • 2banana
        Feb 3, 2019 at 4:04 pm

        Wolf, you can go down the rabbit hole of who did what and when leading up to legislation getting passed.

        But, ultimately, the president is leader of the nation, heavily influences all legislation that gets to his desk and has final authority.

        For example, the war in Iraq. Pelosi, Hillary, Kerry and Biden all voted for it. But Bush takes 99.999% of the blame for that fiasco. And rightly so.

        The same also goes to Obama with Obamacare, destruction of race relations and the war in Syria/Libya.

        The same will go to Trump is he starts another war (but so far has not) or builds part of a wall (or not) or puts even more gun control on the books, etc.

      • timbers
        Feb 4, 2019 at 3:50 pm

        I agree with 2banana.

        Because it’s not like Bill only repealed Glass Steagall but other that was ok. Oh no sirree…Bill did much more than just stop there. He also signed the Telecom deregulation act allowing 50 news sources to become 6, signed abolishing welfare, promoted privatized prisons and then fed them business by targeting low income minorities for incarceration, and to top it all off Bill was about to join team red in destroying Social Security and turning it over to Wall Street, but he was forced to retreat on that because Lewinsky.

      • yngso
        Feb 6, 2019 at 8:03 am

        The banksters are in charge…

      • yngso
        Feb 6, 2019 at 8:14 am

        Yes, people focus too much on the present and recent past. The creation of the Eurodollar in the 1950es started the financialization we have now, and leaving the gold standard in 1971 made it “official”, and Greenspan coming 3 decades ago gave it a megaboost which is fizzling now.

    • Bet
      Feb 3, 2019 at 4:11 pm

      Also back in the early 1980’s under Reagan the depositors insurance under the FDIC
      Was raised from 50k to 100k. Thus the start of the dismantling of Glas Stegal Act. Then the bailout of junk bonds , then allowing banks to be both retail and commercial, brokerages, Graham’s wife worked to deregulate and unfetter derivatives, Clinton’s signature was just the final touch
      The ultimate goal of a Goldman sacks executive is not to be partner or CEO. But to hold a govt office or appointment , especially one in control of the oversight of the financial sector. They have done an excellent job there. Can I say treasury sectretary Paulson , Corsine et al? I think also a GSaker (aka Sithlord) was put into place in Italy’s banking commission , or whatever they have over there , I think three ? Four ? Years ago? They are everywhere the squid Their mission for decades To undo Glas Stegal

      • HowNow
        Feb 4, 2019 at 6:46 am

        Don’t forget Donald T. Regan, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Treasury was formerly the CEO of Merrill Lynch. GS isn’t the only squid swimming out there in the deep blue.

  4. John Merryman
    Feb 3, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    How about a reboot of economics and finance in general?
    My sense is that money is the social contract, aka. vouchers, that enables mass society to function, but we treat it as a commodity to mine from society and consequently try to store.
    Yet while econ 101 tells us money is both medium of exchange and store of value, medium and store are very different functions and not to be confused.
    For instance, in the body, blood is the medium and fat is the store, or for cars, roads are the medium and parking lots are the store.
    The dawn of modern capitalism was when the Rothschild’s traded Charles 1’s debts for running the royal treasury and the Bank of England was born. The issue is that politicians/kings function on how much hope they give their supporters and we experience money as quantified hope, so printing up more money, aka unsupported promises, is a quick fix, then the situation is grim.
    As the Fed has currently fallen into this situation, of placating the supporters of capitalism, at all costs, it might be time to consider the next paradigm.
    As executive and regulatory function, from chieftains and elders, to kings and courts, to presidents and legislatures, government amounts to the central nervous system of society. While finance and banking are the circulation system. While they are separate functions, with different purposes, they necessarily serve the whole community.
    Monarchy discovered the hard way that it wasn’t just served by society, but had to serve it as well. It is a two way street, or else.
    Currently banking is having its Marie Antoinette moment. It is as if the heart was telling the hands and feet they don’t need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get. Along with telling the head it better go along, or else.
    We have an atomized culture, where most interactions are mediated by money and consequently taxed on it. It is the Matrix.
    We need to store value in stronger communities and healthier environments, or else.
    Just some thoughts to consider.

    • Bankers
      Feb 3, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      It isn’t straightforward.

      In antiquity grain storage and repartition was a religious/political/leadership question. It would work while division of labour was understood and visible, and hierarchy more personal. This was superceded by enforced administrative currencies that were only considered of value within that enforced system. There you have your social contract, and obviously the more complex the more corrupt it could become.

      Outside of that you have natural trade, starting with barter. Ownership and profit from owning, at its basis survival and then prosperity, were and are incentive based. If you don’t, well you perish. This is why I say natural, it is survival of the fittest in an anarchic way, anarchy simply meaning there being no obvious hierarchy. Here, beyond barter, certain commodities achieved worth, most notably precious metals. In fact the aforementioned politi were also very fond of them.

      So you have this merger take place between the two systems. The most obvious example was the issue of the first coinage, in gold. This could be seen as acceptance of the commodity within an administrative system, political advertising, possible seigniorage, guarantee of weight and quality. However trade between administrations (read peoples or nations) remained by weight in commodity, with coinage of trusted quality accepted.

      So you have afterwards administrative debasement of all kinds thoughout history, the examples are well known, of the domestic administrative unit. That was forced on people, and people being wiser would guard against it by rejecting the lower quality currency if possible. Obviously there is a natural tendency to survival that overides administered truths, no matter how ideal they seem. People are like that, and yet they are also very generous with their own. Hence the more cohesive, nationalist, homogeneous societies tend to fare better.

      You cannot simply administer that homogeneous reality though, it is in large part organic, a mixture of force, fairness, and understandable moral. That could be called tradition and recognition.

      Now your approach asks for tokens that cannot be mined off of people. Where do they come from then ? Remember the tendency is to keep own wealth, and to gain wealth off others also, hopefully in a mutually acceptable format called trade, which is an exchange of own efforts.

      The difficulty of the current system is not only an excess of administrative coupon achieved via taxation, but that that coupon is forced into use as money, and that fiat money, being not based on a fixed unit as per precious metals, is highly manipulable to the profit of fewer. It is normal for people to aim for wealth, but it should occur in an honest way. With that good moral, society would prosper and be reinforced, and the say would remain in the hands of those who worked to earn it.

      We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and we have thousands of years of study of its functioning. That we choose to ignore the lessons of that study is merely a demonstration of our own choice of ignorance. I personally do not expect people to change much with regard , and especially not in their collectives.

      However the world is full of opportunity, so there is no need to feel too miserable about that, we just have to learn fast enough about how the world works, so as to achieve some success of whatever form, instead of getting placed in a rut. Those already placed in a rut, well they will learn to defend themselves eventually, and they will have the sympathy of many.

      • John Merryman
        Feb 3, 2019 at 8:30 pm

        Without the ups and downs, it would just be a flatline.

        When the system is siphoning serious value out of the next generation, it kills the system. Like cheating on the foundations to put more gold in the penthouse.
        It’s question of what lessons are going to be learned from this cycle.

        Presumably Volcker cured inflation with higher rates, but that only reduced the flow of fresh money to those willing to borrow it and grow the economy, not those collecting interest. Their surplus was siphoned up by government debt, then spent on the military. Could capitalism, as it works now, function without government debt to hold trillions of surplus dollars? Not to mention what is used bidding up asset values, far beyond any reason, other than the greater fool.
        What happens if the government can’t keep piling up debt, without destroying faith in the system? Does disaster capitalism/predatory lending come home to roost and highways, mineral rights, parks, etc get sold off to those already holding piles of treasuries? Then we really have an oligarchy and a smaller, more miserable economy.
        Capitalism has mutated from the efficient transfer of value, to the production of money as an end in itself. Our tools become our gods. Like technology.
        We need to accept that money, not all property, is a form of public utility. That we own money like we own the section of road we are using, because its functionality is in its fungibility. It’s not our picture on it and we certainly don’t hold the copyright. Then people will recognize there are costs to converting real assets into this medium and value other relationships more, even if they are less convertible.
        We mostly all save for the same reasons; children, housing, healthcare, retirement, etc. If these could be invested in as community assets, rather than everyone trying to save for them individually, with their bank accounts as their personal umbilical cord, society would be more organically complex and possibly more sustainable. We wouldn’t be trying to drain value out of everything, to store in a bank.
        Not that I would expect this to happen voluntarily, but the current system appears to be spiraling down the drain and I think a conversation needs to start, as to what comes next.

        • Bankers
          Feb 3, 2019 at 11:09 pm

          I agree with a lot you are saying there, but I also think voluntary choice of allocation of wealth ( including what they choose to count as money – i.e. in effect not a public utilty) is a good thing, as would be rates set by market. People would not just hoard money, they would make it available for investment – its price would be part set by the levels of trust in the economy. I understand in principle the fed tries to smooth the field of says cpi to allow private economic planning, but in reality public management has become a form of ownership. Faster (i.e. permanent near continuous) cycles and a market always attentive is better than these boom busts in my opinion. That would also encourage social complexity as people would make themselves aware of a much wider reality than just “current rates”. The value of community assets is undeniable, that in reality they exist even for the most ardently independent – try taking away national borders completely and we will see what really happens. You then get onto the question of whether private payer community ( e.g. insurance) or public is better, for certain fields, and every known argument that surrounds those.

          So it is all debatable , and really I could think up so many variations on monetary and policy layout that could be tried, all on voluntary basis. Here is not the place for discussion though, not unless Wolf actually invites this in as a topic, if for no other reason that it would just run into long conversations. Which is where I leave it to avoid hogging comments section.

        • yngso
          Feb 6, 2019 at 8:54 am

          The banksters’ gravy train skimming the cream and leaving only dregs is coming to a screeching halt, because soon there’s nothing left to steal. They’ll have to invest their ginormou swealth in productive assets, because key stroke money creation eliminates the need to pay interest to banksters. At least that’s how I interpret how someone like Steve Keen thinks. We need a very different monetary system, and UBI and other ideas are designed to meet new realitues.
          The conversation has started and is accellerating…

    • HowNow
      Feb 4, 2019 at 7:29 am

      Before you lay the problems of capitalism at the feet of the Rothchilds, the perennial scapegoat, you may want to bone up on the history of capitalism. Your commentary sounds lofty and confident, but, imo, is somewhat off kilter.
      Don’s article was about the banking industry which has gone well off the rails. You or Merryman mentions “incentives”. DIS-incentives, for bankers and financiers, might be what’s needed: stockades for the ignorant lenders who were bamboozled or just stupidly handing out dubious loans, and gibbets for the flat-out crooked ones. A seriously punitive or lethal disincentive would keep the trains on-track. Quijones has described a scenario where horses have not only left the barn but are en route to the factory.
      Regarding capitalism, it comes down to this: do you think the best economic system for homo sapiens is one that protects the “liberty” of individuals to become oligarchs, angels or knaves, or one that divvies up production, resources and power to be devoured by the consumptive muppets? Or should it settle somewhere between the two? Whether currencies are based on “hope”, gold, or toilet paper, is not particularly relevant to this article.

      • John Merryman
        Feb 4, 2019 at 4:52 pm

        I see it as a process of trial and error. Capitalism has its pros and cons, but I suspect the current elephant in the room is the degree to which it actually needs government debt to store what would otherwise be unemployed capital. Ask yourself, could the stock market have absorbed that 20 trillion dollars? Of course, the generals and Rayethon love it, but it might have been spent more wisely.
        In which case, either this is publicly recognized and debated, or disaster capitalism comes home to the US and we spiral further into oligarchy. When those public assets go up for sale, to the billionaires sitting on piles of treasuries, they will likely go for firesale prices, as those managing the process will know who their future employers are.
        So, ten years from now, when you are paying tolls to Berkshire Hathaway, to use your local highway, remember back when capitalism was a religion of choice.

        • yngso
          Feb 6, 2019 at 10:56 am

          Indeed, why do we need debt when money is created with keystrokes? Mideaval kings needed cash quick for wars, and the banksters have been living high on the interest hog ever since. Sure, this system is deeply entrenched, but just because something has been going on for a long time it doesn’t have to last forever.

      • yngso
        Feb 6, 2019 at 10:46 am

        We humans are becoming more enlightened and harder to manipulate. The elites are learning how to keep their power doing less damage and getting less blowback. This is reflected in the geopolitical realities of today. So not being neither knaves nor muppets but more enlightened, our future is much brighter than our past.

    • HMG
      Feb 4, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      Excellent fundamental overview . You definitely hit the nail on the head.

      A First Class Honours Degree in Economics for you, whoever you are.

      • HMG
        Feb 4, 2019 at 5:08 pm

        I’m referring to the Merryman Charles 1st / Marie Antoinette “thoughts to consider article” above of course.

        • John Merryman
          Feb 4, 2019 at 8:19 pm

          Thanks, though I’m getting some grief for my history of the BoE. Should double check internet sources.
          The point still stands, that finance is the circulation mechanism of society and better not cook its golden goose.
          When you know the details, you know what happened. When you know the process, you have a good idea what will happen.

        • HMG
          Feb 4, 2019 at 9:33 pm

          J. Merryman

          Whatever grief you are getting it is just nit picking.

          The fundamental insight illuminated by your post is in a class of its own.

          It explains so much. The differences between the financial structures in 13th Century Venice to 21st Century Venezuela, 20th Century Switzerland to 20th/21st Century Zimbabwe.

          Even better it explains how maybe , if a European financial collapse does in fact occur in the next few years (or even months !) , in comparable words to those of the hotel waiter who delivered the champagne to George Best the night after a big casino win and in bed with a scantily attired former Miss World ….”where did it all go wrong”.

        • John Merryman
          Feb 4, 2019 at 9:34 pm

          Now that I think of it, my source on that tidbit of information was an article some years ago, by Michael Hudson, describing the history and evolution of money, so who knows what to believe.
          As I said, pay attention to the patterns, more than the details.

        • HMG
          Feb 4, 2019 at 9:49 pm

          I have found a ‘flaw’ in your post……..you spelt Raytheon incorrectly.

          PS. I checked the spelling with Dick Cheney and he agrees with me.

        • John Merryman
          Feb 5, 2019 at 6:22 am

          Details are not my strong point. I grew up on the physical side of the economy, mostly race horses. To most of life, time is not the narrative from past to future, but change turning future to past.
          Potential, actual, residual. Which is our biggest perceptual bias.

        • HMG
          Feb 6, 2019 at 6:43 am

          Picking you up on the spelling mistake was just mentioned in Jest.

          All your posts for this article are ‘bang on the money’.

          I am going to print them and keep them for future reference.

    • yngso
      Feb 6, 2019 at 8:27 am

      Yes the bankster model of sapping the life blood out of the economy has become unsustainable. It’s a continuation of the feudal sustem taxing the people to death, just much more slow burn. We’re given only an illusion of growthh, and wealth, because everything gets stolen from us.
      Three great names regarding taking banking away from the banksters are Steve Keen, Richard Werner and Ellen Brown.

  5. Javert Chip
    Feb 3, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    REGARDING GLOBAL RETAIL & INVESTMENT BANKS:

    Recent history has more than shown these 2 very different business models and associated risk profiles should be legally (not with laughable “Chinese Walls”) separated. Further, retail bank should not be allowed to engage in proprietary derivatives.

    All derivatives written or purchased in the US or by any financial institution dealing with the US Federal Reserve should have to write, trade & clear their derivatives on the equivalent of a public stock exchange, including maintaining current minimum collateral postings.

    REGARDING ITALIAN BANKS:

    The primary problem with Italian banks is they appear to lose money to corruption, fraud (selling inappropriate investments to retail customers) and failure to properly manage a retail loan portfolio. Separating Italian banks from investment banks is a secondary issue. Senior bank managers and boards should be terminated (and excluded from further work in the industry) if any public “recapitalization” is required

    • NJGeezer
      Feb 3, 2019 at 9:19 pm

      Hear, hear. Most cogent comment, Chip.

    • Toofilla
      Feb 4, 2019 at 5:25 am

      Here we are again with the “corrupt” Italians. No commercial bank would survive ten years of recession like we had in Italy. It is a miracle that only a few banks went bust so far.
      True, Glass-Steagall would have no effects on the NPL crisis – only a recovery would help – but it would cut the lifeline to investment banks and hopefully sink the speculative financial system while protecting commercial banks.

  6. Jesus
    Feb 3, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    The repeal of the act was done by the usual suspects, those who under the term “globalists” have a plan to enslave humanity for their (mostly) religious supremacist delirium.
    They control both parties and are the deep State.
    They have created an opaque daisy chain of never ending derivatives where they profit if they win and the slave taxpayers are on the hook for the losses if they lose.
    Unless these (type of Italian) laws are implemented worldwide the blackmail to Armageddon will always assure that politicians cave in to their demand and the absence of their prosecution.
    I despise particularly the one who started the repeal (and who bought my Medical School with his gigantic profits, putting his name (Weill) to what used to be a respected University.
    The cabal controls the entire media and the hopes are dim.

    • Argus
      Feb 4, 2019 at 1:48 am

      I suspect you are correct but there are signs that people are slowly waking up to what is going on.
      It always amuses me that people get so worked up about who sits in the White House when it is the same puppetmasters pulling the strings. It’s all smoke and mirrors and distracts the populace.

    • yngso
      Feb 6, 2019 at 11:05 am

      Banking startet on an Italian banca – bench – so it seems very natural somehow that Italy should be an epicenter of banking today.

  7. Debt Wazoo
    Feb 3, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    > Its repeal in 1999 led to the consolidation of the U.S. banking sector

    Actually the 1994 Riegle-Neal act was what caused that:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riegle-Neal_Interstate_Banking_and_Branching_Efficiency_Act_of_1994

    Arbitrary geographic growth barriers are actually a good thing for natural monopoly industries (like electric utilities, banks, and telecommunications). Unfortunately in these few industries the optimal strategy is to burn cash driving all your competitors out of business, then jack up the prices (or terms of service) once you’ve killed or bought all of them.

    • Debt Wazoo
      Feb 3, 2019 at 8:39 pm

      By “telecommunications” I mean specifically the company that owns the physical wires buried in the ground, or the poles they’re strung from. In other words, the holder of the right-of-way easement. Everything else, built on top of that critical monopoly, can be quite competitive.

  8. Maximus Minimus
    Feb 3, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    This will not pass if only for fear of contagion. Not that the average voter would know what the fuss is about, or would have the intellectual integrity that this is important, but for fear of another party gaining power that is not in the old mold.
    Bankers are the proverbial wolves in the forest; they are few but smart, determined, knowledgeable, and goal oriented. They have fought hard for the right to socialize their losses.

  9. Former
    Feb 3, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    I didnt think i will ever say this, but im Impressed with Italy. Hat off to Salvini!

    • Javert Chip
      Feb 4, 2019 at 6:44 pm

      Huh?

      You’re impressed by use of taxpayer funds to continue to support Italian bank managers who have, since the invention of pasta, clearly demonstrated that they cannot run a bank?

      • HMG
        Feb 4, 2019 at 9:38 pm

        I refer to my post above.

        It’s a pity that 21st Century Italian Bank managers are far less astute that their 13th Century Venetian counterparts.

  10. Gershon
    Feb 4, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Everybody involved in the repeal of Glass-Steagall, up to and including Bill Clinton, needs to be incarcerated in a Supermax federal prison.

  11. MC01
    Feb 4, 2019 at 3:02 am

    If you believe any of this… I have a nice fountain right in the middle of Rome for sale.

    The present Italian government just wants to throw some smoke on the Carige bailout, which is pretty delicate due to all the connections between that bank and members of present government. Again, nothing new: part of the reason Italian banks are in such bad shape is because they have always extended risky loans at very favorable conditions for purely political reasons, such as “pumping” GDP figures through real estate activity.

    I think it was the much hated and despised Margaret Thatcher who said that each time a scoundrel raises his fist and shouts “Power to the people!” he’ll readily find a following regardless of his actions or intentions. This time is no different.
    These people are behaving exactly like the crooked Socialists and Christian Democrats of my childhood, the only difference is they have Facebook and Twitter.

  12. yngso
    Feb 6, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Yes JM, it’s all about the direction. When we know the history and see that things keep on going the same way, it’s easy to know how it will end.

  13. HMG
    Feb 9, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Impossible to change direction now.

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