Bank analyst Bove defends the largest American banks, and bankers in general, in a controversial counternarrative to the dominant theories about the causes of the financial crisis of 2008.
Not only have they been unfairly singled out as the culprits, writes the author, but many of the proposed remedies will only make the situation worse. He cites the massive Dodd-Frank legislation and capital guidelines for the Bank of International Settlements as exemplifications of his view. Bove insists that proposed remedies from Richard Durbin, Larry Summers, Barney Frank and others “did not do what they intended to do. They did the opposite, rendering harm to everyone.” The author compares the most recent financial excesses with earlier versions of what he considers a syndrome. One of his examples is “Jackson's Folly,” when President Andrew Jackson’s opposition to the issuance of paper currency brought on the banking crisis of 1837 and a frenzy of state-level wildcat banking and real estate speculation. Bove considers that the expansion of paper money and new avenues for credit in the 1830s was the equivalent of today's electronic derivatives, since it allowed the debt to increase beyond the income available to pay for it. He argues that it is the government, rather than the banks, that bears the major responsibility for the most recent crisis. In the 1990s, the turning points included the elimination of Glass-Steagall regulations and the loosening of Fannie Mae's credit standards. Bove truly believes that large, globally active banks have a vital part to play in maintaining America's worldwide competitive position, and he fears that weakening the banks undermines the international role of the dollar and will ultimately benefit China. The author’s purpose is “to re-establish balance.”
A well-written, lively and provocative argument that may not sway everyone but is certainly worth consideration.