January 21st, 2010
01:01 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama wants to limit bank size

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/21/art.bopaul0121.gi.jpg caption="President Obama announced the 'Volcker rule' Thursday. The proposal is named after Paul Volcker, an Obama economic adviser who is also a former Federal Reserve chief."]
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama on Thursday publicly signed on to a message that former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker has been giving for a year: Let's limit the big banks.

Volcker, an economic adviser to Obama, will join the president Thursday in announcing new measures to narrow the size and scope of banks' investment activities, according to a senior administration official.

Calling it the "Volcker rule," the president proposed prohibiting commercial banks from making trades for their own accounts. He also proposed prohibiting banks from owning or investing in hedge funds.

"We should no longer allow banks to stray too far from their central mission of serving their customers," Obama said in a White House address.

Obama also proposed tougher rules aimed at limiting bank mergers and consolidation. New, yet to be determined, caps would curb banks' marketshare, going further than existing caps.

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soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Cincinnatian

    I'm not holding my breath. DC and Wall Street walk hand in hand, both ignoring the middle class. Scott Brown will get used to the good life and do the same as all the rest.

    January 21, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Wisconsonite

    This is a very good thing. Now, how many ways will the Rabid Right try to spin this into a bad thing so they can try to eke out a few more votes from the confused and ill-informed.

    January 21, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Craig

    Sorry, Larry Summers. Glass-Steagall should have never been repealed. It was Clinton who signed the papers repealing Glass-Steagall, but
    if my memory is correct, it was a Republican Congress pushing for the repeal.

    All I can say is that is about time these greedy bankers, who want to feed at the public trough, while claiming they are doing "God's Work", need a good face slap.

    Lucky for them I am not making the rules here or they would be hanging out to slowly twist in the wind. They are a disgrace. And if of them are wearing that little patriotic flag pin on their lapel, they need to remove it. They don't deserve to wear it.

    President Obama, I voted your you, but I have not seen a whole lot of change, yet. It has just been more of the SOS. So, this better be more than some political grandstanding on your part.

    You listen to what Paul says. It took Mr. Volcker to make the tough decisions in the early '80s to get us out of inflationary mess.

    You listen to him, Mr. President.

    Go Paul Volcker.

    January 21, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. Beverly in NC

    Yes, it is about time to limit the size and power of the banks and reinstate "Glass-Stegall Act" to again separate banking from investment risks.

    Bank and Wall St arrogance after the taxpayers bailed them out from failure of THEIR own making is appalling. They have returned to the same practices that nearly brought down our financial system and pure greed vs smart investments in American small businesses (as the banks promised).

    We need to break down the bank so none "are too big to fail". We need to make them repay every dime we loaned them since they are able to pay out ridiculous bonuses. Banks need to be re-regulated to keep America's financial system safe.

    Republicans will try to block any regulation or break-up of the larges banks because they are servants to the bank lobbyists and once again could care less what damage the banks are doing to the American People. As long as the rich white people are staying rich, then Republicans say "to hell with the middle class".

    President Obama – the banks are back on their feet and it is now time to recoup our money and put strict regulations back in place to keep the People's economy safe and solid.

    January 21, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. bess

    hey Obama- it's not about banks, it's about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!! and preferably creating private-sector jobs, not tax sucking bloated government jobs.

    January 21, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. Florence

    What are you going to do Mr. President, when these fat bankers go to Congress and based on the new Supreme Court ruling, demand a pay back because they financed their campaign? You can’t clap with one hand Mr. President. You promised Public Option for health care, they, the democratic senators themselves, ambushed you. You promised change, they brought you down to earth and had you smell the roses. You never bite the hand that feeds you Mr. President, unless it’s ours, the poor and the middle class since we have no voice.

    January 21, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. NikiD

    I voted for this president. I voted for him in the primary and the general election. I plastered his signs all over the lawn and splashed his stickers on the rear bumper of my car. I live in the North East, I am married to an Investment Banker at a "Big Bank" and I am not rich. I feel that this president is taking the blue states in the North East for granted and his actions of targeting the banks will lose him the next election. He is on a mission to systematically destroy the banking industry for the purposes of securing red state votes. Mr. President, the red state votes will do you no good if you don't win the North East. The more you assert yourself on the banking industry, the more the ypush back and limit lending. Furthermore, picking on the bonus practice of Wall Street again and again and again only makes you seem more and more like the socialist the right wing portrays to be. I am fearful that your next hourly press conference will be about how every dollar over $200K earned will have to be forfeited to the federal government to balance out the lesser earnings of others. News Flash, the family making $30K a year in a red state, didn't go to college and bust their you know whats and didn't have student loans and doesn't keep the Targets and Nordstroms of this country in business. I love my country and I trusted you with my vote and now you have lost it. Don't underestimate the power of the people votes and don't take them for granted. I am afraid your lack of experience in political life is reflected by your complete disregard of your bread and butter of the election map. NJ took a republican governor who ran his entire campaign based on a critical view of your agenda and now we see that Kennedy's seat has also turned red. These are not isolated incidents, these are the people proving to you that they are paying attention and they don't like what they see.

    January 21, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. Corey

    "We should no longer allow banks to stray too far from their central mission of serving their customers," Obama said in a White House address. Aren't banks in business to make money? Am I missing something?

    January 21, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. File under "Sarcasm"

    Here we go again with the liberal mantra that big banks and big corporations are the root of all evil and that they, the liberal ruling elite, have to protect the poor middle class from capitalism's heartless pursuit of profits. That thinking was relevant in the 30's but it makes much less sense today.

    If President Obama listened to the American people rather than his left wing, liberal, academia base, he'd put big government at the top of his list of evil doers, well ahead of banks and corporations who are already regulated by big government.

    I'm also not sure he should be listening to Jimmy Carter's Fed Chairman who was fired by Ronald Regan and whom many economists accuse of triggering the 1980's recession by high taxes and over-regulation.

    January 21, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    Instead of "We the People" the High Court would have us say" We the Corporations"

    January 21, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    I think the only way to fix our economy completely and for good is to implement some type of economic reform to our country; one part can be to reform the 75-80% of our economy that runs purely on foreign oil, energy, and fossil fuels. That, in my opinion, cannot be sustained for much longer at all, and we need to something about that situation that is currently staring us in the face. Here is some of my idea of which I think we should do:
    1. Develop an effective population-control strategy. This will, at least, require more education of people since literacy and population growth are inversly related.
    2. Completely restructure our energy programs. A sustainable global economy is probably impossible is it is based on use of fossil fuels. New energy plans will utilize the concept of an integrated energy policy, with more emphasis on renewable energy sources, solar and wind for example. Finally, conservation of energy must have a central place in our energy managment plans.
    3. Institute economic planning, including development of a tax structure that will encourage population control and wise use of resources. Financial aid for developing countries is absolutely necessary to narrow the gap between rich and poor nations.
    4. Implement social, legal, political, and educational changes that provide for maintenance of a quality local, regional, and global environment. This must be a serious commetment that all the people of the world will cooperate to achieve.
    If anyone else is interested in helping out with this, please give me more ideas; I am planning to write a letter to congress about this issue. Your imput will be highly appreciated and respected fully. Thank you.

    January 21, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Sparky

    Wow he sure knows how to make friends....

    January 21, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Orange Curtain, CA

    Good...no more subsidization and bailing-out sheisty investments at taxpayer expense. Stop giving Henry Paulsen and his golfing pals blank checks with no accountability.

    January 21, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Greg in MO

    From this no one can now deny that our president is a socialist. The government should not and cannot control what a private firm does. I hope the rest of you realize the potential for this power grab.

    What industries are protected from the government's control? What is the size to which they can limit? We are all affected by this.

    The owners of these banks are private individuals – Obama and the governemnt work for them. This government is in no position to control a private firm's decisions. Unless we give them that power.

    So, it is up to us – do we want to be stirred up by Obama's 5 minutes hate and give him the power he wants or, do we think rationally and stop this government power grab.

    January 21, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Enough

    How about we limit the size of Government in our lives? Big Government is not good.

    January 21, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Andy from CA

    It light of this announcement, how good does the number 60 look right now.

    January 21, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    While he's recommending things the people want but the republicans won't allow, why not recommend TERM LIMITS ON CONGRESS.

    January 21, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. CA gov

    Banks strayed because of GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE. Obama is adding more government interference (and taxes....). Lending practices were messed up because of government mandates and policies....

    Why won't Obama and the democrats allow the free market system to work. Oh yeah, they don't believe it.

    January 21, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Gary's Opinion

    In general this would be a good idea, but if we limit our banks size but other countries do not, we'll quickly find out that none of the top 20 banks in the world are US.....that would suck.

    January 21, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Obama Victim

    what we are seeing is that..what he wants...he does not get.......what a loser

    January 21, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Auntie Sam Height

    Forget limiting its size. You should be doing away with the Fed altogether. It's nothing but a vehicle through which international jewry sends its slimy tentacles into the US economy.

    January 21, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. thersa

    It's about time. If he'd one this kind of thing before the election, we wouldn't have that skanky Scott Brown in the Senate.

    January 21, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Vic of New York

    So Tea Partiers.... Where do you stand?

    Are you with the Republicans: "Less Government, more unregulated Banks" Or are you with the rest of America: "Newt Gingrich doesn't know squat – he got us here"

    Think about that while you're looking for a job....

    January 21, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. liberal wingnut

    Obama likes to blame blame blame. Does he know that the democrats where in charge of congress when this happened?

    January 21, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. montag24

    The President should have dumped Bernanke, Geithner, and Summers a long time ago and started listening to Paul Volcker much, much sooner.

    Reinstate Glass-Stegall now. The sooner, the better,

    January 21, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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