Bloomberg contributor Simon Johnson writes that since the 2008 financial crisis, the perception has taken hold among some analysts and economists that certain U.S. institutions are too big to fail, meaning they would have to be bailed out to protect the financial system in the event of another calamity.
The recent trading losses at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and scandals over money laundering at HSBC and Standard Chartered have prompted even financial-industry insiders to ask whether these complex global organizations are too big to manage.
The continued downward spiral in Europe raises a similar question: Are some banks too big to save, meaning their collapse could dramatically worsen the euro crisis (as happened in Ireland in the fall of 2008 and is happening now in Spain andGreece) ?
The critics must be gaining converts because, in recent weeks, the defenders of large banks have started to push back. William B. Harrison Jr., the former chairman of JPMorgan, and Wayne Abernathy, the executive vice president of the American Bankers Association, both wrote op-eds that argue against breaking up banks. The Financial Services Roundtable, a large-bank lobby group, has circulated two e-mails insisting that the critics’ arguments are based entirely on myths.
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