7/25/12 4:35 PM – Breaking up the Banks

Sandy Weill, the guy that tried to build Citigroup into a financial supermarket and who is very well known on Wall St. called for the big banks to be split into deposit and lending banks on one hand and investment banks on the other. This was done before as part of the Depression era reforms and the act that brought it about was called Glass-Stegall.

But of course the banks put a lot of pressure on Congress to let them expand from traditional banks to fianancial powerhouses in the 1990s and so Glass-Stegall was repealed in 1999 at the height of the dot.com bubble. That year was really the last of the big stock markets years from 1982-1999 and was followed by the rough years of 2000-2012, a long period in which the market has gone essentially nowhere.

I have written several times that the repeal of Glass-Stegall was a huge mistake and that the banks should be split again. I still feel that way. There is just too much risk and the size of these banks is too large not to pose a systemic risk. Banks that big and risky so that the put an enormous strain on the government to contain a failure are too big for the good of the country. The odds of that happening are slim.

Stocks finished about where they started, depending on the index. Europe and Asia were genrally either side of breakeven by not much. Bonds rose today, as did oil and gold. Natgas, pretty volatile of late was off 3%. Most clients still have a 10-15% profit in natgas over the last few months.