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“If You Are Too Big To Fail, You’re Too Big”: Richard Fisher

Daily Ticker

Nearly four years after U.S. taxpayers bailed out Wall Street, the debate over how to deal with America's too big to fail banks rages on.

One very outspoken critic of TBTF banks has been Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher.

"The TBTF institutions that amplified and prolonged the recent financial crisis remain a hindrance to full economic recovery and to the very ideal of American capitalism," Fisher wrote in the Dallas Federal Reserve's 2011 annual report entitled "Choosing the Road to Prosperity: Why We Must End Too Big to Fail — Now."

He joined The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task at the Milken Institute's 2012 Global Conference in Los Angeles to discuss the threat posed by TBTF banks.

"Five banks have 52% of all the deposits in the industry and they are now bigger than they were before we got into the crisis," explains Fisher. That's compared to 1970 when the top five banks maintained just 17% of all deposits. "We've had this huge amount of legislation called Dodd-Frank — thousands of pages, hundreds of sections — and it is has not solved the too big to fail problem."

In fact, the combined assets of the top 10 banks equal half of America's total GDP, according to the Dallas Fed's annual report.

"There is an inherent injustice in being too big to fail because you are implicitly getting a subsidy from the government," says Fisher. "They don't have to be these giant depository institutions that are underwritten by the taxpayer."

Not only do TBTF banks pose a threat to the U.S. taxpayers and financial system, they are also to blame for the slowest economic growth since the Great Recession, says Fisher. In an earlier segment with The Daily Ticker, he explains there is currently enough "gas in the tank" from Fed policy to jumpstart a recovery, but policymakers won't step on the gas pedal in terms of jobs creation, which Fisher also attributes to the issue of TBTF.

"Dodd-Frank has made it very difficult from a regulatory burden standpoint for community and regional banks," Fisher says. "These are the people who lend to small businesses [and] small businesses create the majority of jobs in America."

He believes Dodd-Frank "penalizes community and regional banks" and even "interferes with the proper connection of monetary policy to the economy as a whole."

If the problem is not solved, he believes another crisis will hit again, at some point in the future.

"If you are too big to fail, you're too big," he says.

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