Contemporary account of 1999 loosening of banking restrictions.

This November 1999 New York Times article on financial services deregulation is awesome:

Congress approved landmark legislation today that opens the door for a new era on Wall Street in which commercial banks, securities houses and insurers will find it easier and cheaper to enter one another’s businesses.


The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation’s financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression.


”I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930’s is true in 2010,” said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota. ”I wasn’t around during the 1930’s or the debate over Glass-Steagall. But I was here in the early 1980’s when it was decided to allow the expansion of savings and loans. We have now decided in the name of modernization to forget the lessons of the past, of safety and of soundness.”

In the Senate, the bill was opposed by Democrats Barbara Boxer, Richard Bryan, Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, Barbara Mikulski, Paul Wellstone, and Byron Dorgan, plus one Republican, Richard Shelby. This is the sort of prescience that is generally only found in Onion articles.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

14 replies on “Contemporary account of 1999 loosening of banking restrictions.”

  1. Crystal, I agree. It is important that we continue to indict minorities and low-income home buyers for destroying the international financial system. It was insidiously brilliant! These People, and That One have entered into an unholy union that challenges the basic decency, and authority of Our People. Perhaps we should skedaddle to Argentina where elitism still has the traditional cache and no one would dare question our inherent right to lead?

  2. Great post….the same could be said of stuff like the Iraq War. What is amazing to me is that the corporate media retains the media folks who got it wrong and continue to get it wrong and they REFUSE to give air time to the folks who get it right….They also refuse to hire the reporters who allow the folks getting it right to have a platform.

    So please start supporting the folks who are getting it right and turn the tv off when the folks who get it wrong wrong wrong are talking. (This alone would cause the collapse of Fox News, CNN….and most of the daytime programming at MSNBC….We need to see folks like Amy Goodman, Seymour Hersh, Robert Parry, Greg Palast, Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky ….. let’s start paying attention to the folks getting it right. Russ Feingold, Dennis Kucinich, and Senator Bernie Sanders continue to shine a light on the things we need to know….we need to support these folks.

  3. “Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,” Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. “This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.”

    That would be Larry Summers, top economic advisor to the current president.


  4. Amazing. How did you find this?

    I think on Reddit, but I’m not entirely certain. With the iPhone as my primary computing device for the past week, my interactions with the internet have been a bit stiff.

    Sorry for the delay—I’ve been on a train for the past 24 hours, coming back from Chicago.

  5. ‘Fraid not, Ben. Amber had a conference to go to, and I tagged along for the vacation. PyCon just started the day before I left, and I don’t think it’s done for a couple of days.

  6. Ahh, my mistake, I was getting my PyCon dates mixed up with my GDC dates.

    Well, I hope the trip was enjoyable all the same. Sorry for the derail.

  7. Waldo, thanks for digging up this archival gem. I cringed when that repeal was passed, and I’m sure many other people did too but were afraid to buck the prevailing trends. I’d like to know what Clinton really thought about it. A doomed veto would have seemed pointless and obstructionist at the time, but would have made him look very wise in retrospect. Anyway, that bit of history shows that Republicans as well as Democrats share the blame for the collapse of our financial system.

  8. That’s really what I like about it, Andrew—it shows how messy issues like this really are. There just aren’t the neat partisan dividing lines that people wish that there were. Very few people come off looking good.

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