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In America, the universal bank is a relatively new creation. It is 16 years to the day since the Glass-Steagall Act, a law enacted during the Great Depression that had the effect of banning universal banks, was repealed.
Glass-Steagall stipulated that traditional, relatively low-risk banking such as taking deposits and making loans could not be undertaken by the same institutions that were involved in higher risk investment banking activities, such as funding corporate acquisitions and trading securities.
As is now clear, traditional banking attracts one kind of talent, which is entirely different from the kinds drawn towards investment banking and trading. Traditional bankers tend to be extroverts, sociable people who are focused on longer term relationships. They are, in many important respects, risk averse. Investment bankers and their traders are more short termist. They are comfortable with, and many even seek out, risk and are more focused on immediate reward. In addition, investment banking organizations tend to organize and focus on products rather than customers. This creates fundamental differences in values.
As I have reflected about the years since 1999, I think the lessons of Glass-Steagall and its repeal suggest that the universal banking model is inherently unstable and unworkable. No amount of restructuring, management change or regulation is ever likely to change that.
Anti-government rally in Seoul turns violent (Al Jazeera) Police used water canons on thousands protesting South Korean President Park Geun-hye's labor and education policies. They were protesting against Park's plans to make the labor market in South Korea more flexible by giving employers greater leeway in dismissing workers and her decision for a government-selected panel to write the high school history textbook.
This Land Was Your Land (Foreign Policy) In Venezuela, land redistribution is not just an ideological imperative - it's how the regime rewards its friends and punishes its enemies.
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