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Bernie Sanders Says It Is Time To Break Up The Big Banks As They Are Nothing But Monopolies

Tyler Durden's picture


Paging Christine Varney. Finally, what Zero Hedge has been pounding the table on for months is starting to make it through to (some of) the ruling elite. In an interview with Dylan Ratigan, Bernie Sanders, who unfortunately is not quite representative of the prevailing DC groupthink yet), says: "it is not just a too big to fail problem, it is monopolistic control of the economy and the incredible concentration of ownership. If Teddy Roosevelt were here right now, the guy who broke up all the big special interests in his day: if he believed that two-thirds of the credit cards were being issued by four banks, does anyone think we should not be breaking these guys up."

He points out the following simple arguments for breaking up the big banks: 1) four largest banks issue two thirds of the credit cards, 2) they hold 50% of mortgages and 3) $7 trillion in assets (50% of GDP). One can extend these observations from the simple consumer facing side of the banking model, to the intrabanking world, where Goldman has a monopoly in virtually all fixed income and equity (including derivative) trading axes and has infinite visibility into market flow.

The argument for breaking them up is blatantly simple: to protect taxpayers against another TBTF episode, as well as to preempt  their concentration of ownership which means "unbelievable power and monopolistic influence over the whole economy."

Sanders, following in William Black's footsteps, is also painfully blunt: "the issue is not whether Congress regulates Wall Street, it's the degree to which Wall Street regulates Congress."

No matter what kind of reform you bring forth, if a BofA is about to teeter, and take with it a significant part of the economy and millions of jobs they are going to be bailed out. What you have to do is break them up today."

In conclusion Bernie sumarizes our current predicament perfectly: "Take a breath for a moment and think about where we're at. You have a middle class collapsing, you have small and medium sized businesses desperately in need of affordable credit so they can expand and create jobs, they're not getting that help. What you have is a Wall Street living in a parallel universe playing with trillions of dollars in gambling casinos, instead of investing in the real economy and producing real products, and helping us create real jobs. That's is the ultimate issue - we need a new Wall Street, where it lives in the real world, not just in a world in which they can use their greed and recklessness to make as much money as they possibly can any way they can."

On Goldman: "Let's give the SEC credit for finally waking up and being prepared to take on one of the most powerful institutions in the world but they've got a lot more to do. Remember under the Bush administration, these guys were comatose."

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Wed, 04/21/2010 - 17:56 | 311483 Marvin_M
Marvin_M's picture

just an independent socialist from a very small and insignificant State, another looney toon like Black...move along now, nothing more to see here...

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:02 | 311491 Vendetta
Vendetta's picture

yeah, the status quo isn't looney

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:08 | 311500 Marvin_M
Marvin_M's picture

oh Dear!...I just realized that I too am a looney toon...

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:35 | 311528 Thunder44
Thunder44's picture

30% interest on credit cards -------40-45% income tax ,whats the difference.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 23:14 | 311994 fsudirectory
fsudirectory's picture

30% interest on credit cards compound monthly (about 100X worse than income tax).

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:11 | 311504 Problem Is
Problem Is's picture

"just an independent socialist from a very small and insignificant State, another looney toon like Black..."

Yeah Sanders.... worse. Sanders has "bizarre" ideas like Ron Paul.

Bernank-ster scoffs...

Off Topic: How come you guys get Cougar ads and I get "Singles Over 40" and "Currency Trading for Dummies" ??

Is Marla trying to tell me something?

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:59 | 311671 PenGun
PenGun's picture

 There are ads here?


 Scuttles off with heavy crouching. I may have been playing a bit too much S.T.A.L.K.E.R lately.


 May the Zone take you.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:40 | 311936 Double down
Double down's picture

You are new, and I forgive you.

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 04:04 | 312227 Problem Is
Problem Is's picture

Marvin_M has a classy avatar though... Only the guy with the paper bag in flames on top is better...

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:00 | 311484 Temporalist
Temporalist's picture

I like Bernie when he's pissed off and doesn't hold back.  And just look at that hair...he looks like he was just in an MMA death match.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 20:59 | 311773 Thunder44
Thunder44's picture

Yeah it's nice to run your mouth when you know nothing you say will ever get done.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 17:58 | 311486 bigdad06
bigdad06's picture

They won't be broken up. Those in power never voluntarily give up that power. They must collapse and new banks must emerge that have sound banking policies with sound currencies backed by gold and silver.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:15 | 311506 anarkst
anarkst's picture

"Those in power never voluntarily give up that power."


Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:23 | 311518 Stranger
Stranger's picture

I seem to recall tanks shelling the Duma to end the USSR.

I suppose after that the communists left "voluntarily".

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:35 | 311531 BorisTheBlade
BorisTheBlade's picture

It was not Duma, it was not in 1991 and it had little to do with communists.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:01 | 311489 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Now, after we bailed them out.  Genius.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:40 | 311540 Thunder44
Thunder44's picture

I Just saw neil barofsky say GM paid back their loan with another loan they had put aside from tarp.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:02 | 311490 Sancho Ponzi
Sancho Ponzi's picture

Is that Bernie's hair blowing, or the plume from (sp?) eyjacantspelldafukka?

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:03 | 311492 Ned Zeppelin
Ned Zeppelin's picture

Nice, we need alot more of this. Yelling about the TBTFs is becoming the rage this spring. About time.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:03 | 311495 anony
anony's picture

Boy how politicians love to mount their thrones and pronounce this and that and nothing, but nothing actually gets done, but tiny, atomic changes at the margin.



Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:34 | 311924 hbjork1
hbjork1's picture

Thats why we vote for them.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:05 | 311497 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture


Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:12 | 311505 svendthrift
svendthrift's picture

Break them up. No one institution should have assets in excess of 1% of GDP. The United States needs small banks. Screw "globally competitive". How about locally competitive. Or local competition. I'm tired of my country.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:25 | 311512 agrotera
agrotera's picture

I have to say Bernie is a man to love!


Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:21 | 311513 goldfreak
goldfreak's picture

If everyone pulled their money out of JP, BAC, Citi, would it make a difference? Or would Chopper just replace the  funds with new money?

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:21 | 311514 Stranger
Stranger's picture

So let me see if I get this right - the government has to break up large corporations because the government is full of morons that keep getting suckered by them.

Makes perfect sense for our day and age.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:22 | 311516 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

We would die without our parasitic overlords.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 21:55 | 311858 Pure Evil
Pure Evil's picture

Well, at least that percentage of the population that's totally dependent upon the leviathan.

But, of course, they would drag the rest of us down with them.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:24 | 311519 potatomafia
potatomafia's picture

Damn, if there could only be some sort of financial crisis in where all these banks were illiquid and bankrupt, exposing them of the fraud that they have committed...  Then the market could naturally break them up whereby the assets would be sold off at market value to those with capital, and then the people that made the bad bets would lose and those that were prudent and smart with there investments would realize gains on their smart investing and savings.


Oh, I know i am only dreaming, as our economy is way to strong right now for any sort of real crisis to actually happen.



Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:35 | 311532 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Sounds like the ox is in the well now.

We should not imagine that "the powers that be" as we refer to them are some sort of unified block of overlords who meet weekly to smoke Cuban cigars and plot another twist in a centuries-long plan to break the slaves in the middle-class on the wheel of debt in order to harvest their savings, their holdings, their children and their major internal organs for profit.

Because they are not all that unified.

They are individuals and groups of such who have agendas that do not entirely agree. And so long as the trough is full for all the pigs, the pigs get along. Once things get crowded or the slop runs low they start looking around at each other wondering which pig is weak enough to toss over the fence to the waiting wolves.

That's when it gets interesting. Once they are locked in mortal combat to stay ... at ... the ... trough! ... they won't be in much shape to avoid the real knives.

Bacon: It's what's for dinner!

All my metaphors end up being about food. Must be a cat thing.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 21:39 | 311832 MrPalladium
MrPalladium's picture


Goldman shifts its money to the repubs and bamo! Goldman gets hit with a fraud suit voted by the Dem majority of SEC Commissioners. That'll teach the bastards to fund the other side!!

The game is just beginning to get mean. The compliant whores in D.C. just got uppity and took out their razors. It's survival time!!

Soon, it will get real mean, as the darkening of the public mood spreads up the food chain to the big dogs.  German banks refusing to do business with Goldman - Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Citi paying calls on all the squid's clients. Any more friendly deals and collegial info shareing among the big dogs, or is it turning to fear, mistrust and revenge?

Oops, gotta check that BKX!!

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:39 | 311538 doublethink
doublethink's picture




WASHINGTON — Angered by what it viewed as foot dragging, a special panel charged with getting to the bottom of the nation's financial crisis issued a subpoena Wednesday to compel Moody's Corp. to provide information.

It was the first such subpoena issued by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and comes days before Moody's chief Ray McDaniel is scheduled to appear Friday before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Read more:


Wed, 04/21/2010 - 18:53 | 311548 Paul E. Math
Paul E. Math's picture

The only thing accomplished by breaking up the banks is that we avoid a TBTF situation.

But the banks still own us.

The structure of our economy, the role of credit, the central bank, the creation of money - they all favor a growing share of our output by the banks.

It does not matter whether my master is worth $1T or only $100B - I am still a slave.

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 06:34 | 311613 Mercury
Mercury's picture


Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:46 | 311616 Mercury
Mercury's picture

Bernie is such an old school leftie it almost makes him "conservative" in a way and even though I disagree with al lot of his cant it reminds me how much I admire some of the old school lefties (who, alas, are *sigh* mostly no longer with us)

I hate to say it but Bernie's mostly right here - although actions speak louder than words...we'll see...

If you substitute "government"  for "Wall St" in the following quote I'd really start getting aroused:

"we need a new Wall Street, where it lives in the real world, not just in a world in which they can use their greed and recklessness to make as much money as they possibly can any way they can."

Giant banks = TBTF and all the problems that go with it.... I'm with you Bernie.

New acronym alert: TSTBTBTF = Too Small Too Be Too Big Too Fail

Let's shoot for that.


Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:35 | 311620 tahoebumsmith
tahoebumsmith's picture

For all you Sanders critics, here is a clip from 2002! Imagine if they or you for that matter had taken him seriously 8 Fricken years ago?

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:23 | 311902 Clinteastwood
Clinteastwood's picture

Yeah well......unfortunately, in this youtube clip Alan Greenspan had Bernie Sanders for lunch.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 23:18 | 312000 fsudirectory
fsudirectory's picture

Well, look who was proven corrent and who failed us.

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 08:44 | 312401 Clinteastwood
Clinteastwood's picture

Sanders (big supporter of obamacare) has no power (except to shoot off his mouth) and is an utter failure, unlike Greenspan who had/has maximal power and ran the nitwits who insisted on getting themselves overleveraged in debt into the guardrail where they belong.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:36 | 311621 tony bonn
tony bonn's picture

hear, hear! finally someone with half a brain is speaking. too big to fail is ipso facto a signal to break up the banks.

the american people should be infuriated that they are holding the bag for incompetent bankster management. they should vote out every scumbag representative - i.e. all of them - regardless of party and vote for anything but dem or repub.

fuck the fed, fuck congress, fuck the president, fuck the banksters, and fuck their supporters...

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:38 | 311628 George Costanza
George Costanza's picture

Get your money out of the giant banks !!!   I have my money at a local regional bank.  It took me 1 hour to open a new account at my local bank ( First Merit )

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 20:11 | 311686 bbbilly1326
bbbilly1326's picture

I closed my Wachovia account today, went to a Canadian bank.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:44 | 311640 truont
truont's picture

What a world where the crazies like Sanders and Ron Paul speak the truth, while the sophisticated and educated Benny Bernanke only speaks assuaging lies.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:45 | 311646 Crab Cake
Crab Cake's picture

Break them up?  Burn them down!  Death to the Fed.

We deserve, we have a right to, representation and control of our nation's monetary policy. 

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:48 | 311651 AccreditedEYE
AccreditedEYE's picture

Amen Sanders!!! And...........Simon Johnson for Treasury Secretary. :) (Asmentioned in previous posts, yes I am a dreamer!)

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 21:14 | 311797 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

It's a cold day in Calcutta when a libertarian agrees with a communist, but as the sheep stealers say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. 

The issue is clear.  Will Goldman Sucks and the Washington cartels be allowed to suck all of the blood from the middle class, or will we fight for the constitution and the rule of law?

Curioser and curioser.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 21:59 | 311862 Pure Evil
Pure Evil's picture

Why waste all that energy on the banks.

We need to shank that other monopoly called the Federal Government.

Once we've killed that leviathan, killing the Wall Street banks will be like stepping on an insect.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:25 | 311905 Clinteastwood
Clinteastwood's picture

Right.  First........get rid of Sanders.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:47 | 311951 Pure Evil
Pure Evil's picture

Well, actually, we should encourage the State of Vermont to succeed and join their commie comrades in arms in the province of Quebec. 

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:42 | 311937 Pure Evil
Pure Evil's picture

I have to wonder if 'Weekend At Bernie's' alzheimer's is kicking in or he just conveniently suppressed the S&L crises from the 80's and 90's.

I guess the failure of over 740 savings and loans back then to the tune of nearly $160 billion, admittedly a fly speck compared to today's profligacy, was something to be shoved down the memory rat hole.

At the same time we may approach the shut down of approximately 2000 small banks nationwide.

My point being, breaking these TBTF banks up into smaller entities does not solve the problem when they are being run by criminals and politicians.

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 05:49 | 312268 M.B. Drapier
M.B. Drapier's picture

I agree that bank size isn't the root cause of the problem. (I suspect that the credit cycle is.) But while the S&Ls weren't immune to the disease, they were more easily cured. They certainly put up a good fight in the political arena, but the regulators brought them down hard and fairly early. Why did the regulators do so much better in the S&L crisis than today? No doubt it was partly due to happenstance and a few good men, but it's clear that Wall Street has greater political clout and systemic risk than a scattering of provincial lenders, and that this has made a difference. Capping the size of the largest banks should curtail Wall Street's advantage, if not eliminate it.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:41 | 311941 Double down
Double down's picture

I like this guy very much.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:43 | 311946 Pure Evil
Pure Evil's picture

Who couldn't love that hair do!

Hopefully it will catch on nationwide.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:53 | 311961 Nikki
Nikki's picture

When kooks like Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders , denninger, keiser, and our own TD are the few who make sense, what is to be done with the mainstream ?..

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 22:54 | 311964 Tethys
Tethys's picture

Unless I am missing something, it might be time to add Robert Reich to the ZH list of those who have seen the light.  Was surprised to hear something that actually made sense on NPR today:


Thu, 04/22/2010 - 00:08 | 312073 agrotera
agrotera's picture

Robert Reich has indicated in much that he says, that he knows what is going on and in his own way, he is spreading the word--that makes him a really good man, and a patriot hero!  Bravo Robert!!!

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 01:04 | 312122 BlackBeard
BlackBeard's picture

Bernie Sanders is the fucking man.

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 01:38 | 312150 Fraud-Esq
Fraud-Esq's picture

Breaking up the banks and medical providers would be the biggest stimulus ever. That's the problem. The entrenched don't want this kind of economic activity. Had the Democrats had any brains, they'd have done this when they had the most power after the elections. Today, there would be major economic activity just in ANTICIPATION of the breaking up of various oligopolies and a new economic age could have been ushered in upon the ruins of the entrenched. It coulda happened. It didn't. Now, it's the slow path to renewal or nowhere. 

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 04:14 | 312235 chindit13
chindit13's picture

Is there such a thing as a credible, non-bought Congressman who is both knowledgeable and articulate, who can speak clearly and concisely to get a point across, who cannot be tossed off as a loon by his/her opponents, who understands the nature of the problem the country faces, and who believes public servants should be servants for the entire public, and has the courage to stand up to the banks even if it puts his career at risk?

Also, is there such a thing as a perpetual motion machine?

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 06:33 | 312299 Grand Supercycle
Thu, 04/22/2010 - 07:08 | 312326 Instant Karma
Instant Karma's picture

Couldn't we break up the Federal Governement instead and let each State run it's own affairs? The Federal Government is a monopoly with the power of law. Banks are just places where people got bored making money off interest rate spreads and writing good loans and decided to have some fun becoming little hedge funds and gambling. Idiots.

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 08:48 | 312410 Forbes
Forbes's picture

If the crooks in Congress stopped bailing the banks out, they wouldn't be TBTF. Failure is explicitly part of capitalism. The problem is created by socializing the risk/losses. Congress needs captive clients for political contributions to their re-election campaigns, and the TBTF banks are the clients--Congress wants their cake, and they want to eat it, too.

Breaking up the banks is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic--15 large banks instead of 5 gigantic banks. What difference will that make? Zero.

Canada has like 10 banks. It's the mortgage lending standards, bank capital requirements, etc.,--not how many banks, or how large they are.

Bernie Sanders is a fringe loony from an inconsequential state.

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