Tougher regulations for ‘too big to fail’ companies?

It’s a question that just won’t go away in this recession — should the government intervene in some aspect of our economy or stay away?

The latest twist on this issue comes today with a report in the New York Times that the Obama administration and some in Congress want to rein in companies deemed “too big to fail.”

One idea would make it easier for the government to seize control of troubled financial institutions, throw out management, wipe out the shareholders and change the terms of existing loans held by the institutions, the Times reports.

U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, was planning to endorse the changes in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday, the Times said.

Deep-seated voter anger over the bailouts of companies like American International Group, Citigroup and Bank of America, the Times said, has fed the fears of lawmakers. They want changes in the regulatory system to include the imposition of more onerous conditions on those financial institutions whose troubles could pose problems for the markets.

Some economists believe the mammoth size of some institutions is a threat to the financial system at large. Because these companies know the government could not allow them to fail, the argument goes, they are more inclined to take big risks, the Times said.

But others believe the government has already gone too far in regulating or intervening in the economy.

They warn about what some call “creeping socialism” and believe the markets and current legal system should be left to deal with the excesses of these institutions. Allowing these companies to fail should be an option. Over time, normalcy will return, they argue.

What do you think?

11 comments Add your comment

kegger55

October 26th, 2009
9:01 am

I honestly believe that the anti-monopoly laws that currently exist should be utilized to allow companies to grow but not become so powerful that they exceed what can be managed. They broke up AT&T but AT&T is now bigger than ever. These companies have become so anti-competitive that they can set prices and influence policies so dramatically that that no other company can enter into competition with them. Look at oil/gas now, telecom, banking, etc.

Fred

October 26th, 2009
9:18 am

Look at the auto industry. GM and Chrysler are now on the government dole. Why? Was it because they were too big to fail? Maybe was Obama paying back the UAW for their support in his election?

Either way, the free market should have dictated if they survived or if they perished. The government has should not have intervened.

John Ellison

October 26th, 2009
9:33 am

The U.S. government should identify all companies that are deemed “too big to fail” and break them up into pieces small enough where they will not harm the economy if they fail. This should be done on an annual basis.

DJ

October 26th, 2009
9:53 am

LET – THEM – FAIL. What does “free market” mean if companies can’t fail (not that we really have a free market anyway, but it’s nice to dream!). And while we’re letting them fail, I think we should let a few of these egotistical bigshots “leave for other jobs if we reign in their pay”. What’s the argument – they have to get multi-million dollar bonuses to “keep the experienced executives”?? Any executive who lead his/her company to multi-billion dollar losses IS NOT DOING A GOOD JOB and doesn’t deserve ANY bonus. Period. If they quit, BUH BYE…… If the company fails…. BUH BYE……

And if the shareholders can prove it was negligent or fraudulent management…. PERP WALK.

This is not hard, people.

2Cents

October 26th, 2009
10:05 am

It’s interesting that the government is so concerned about companies that fall into a category of “too big to fail,” with size part in their anti-competitive concern. But Congress has no problem putting the government smack in the middle of the marketplace. Government is the epitomy of a “company” too big to fail and completely anti-competitive.

Art Vandelay

October 26th, 2009
10:46 am

Under usual circumstances, I don’t believe the government should have a role in affecting how companies are run. In the case of the auto industry, however, I just don’t see what other options they had. If GM and Chrysler had been allowed to fail, the ripple effect would have devastated multiple other industries. Countless dealerships, parts suppliers, repair shops, etc. would have gone under, putting millions more people out of work and eliminating any chance of reversing our present economic decline. As for the financial services industry, I think letting Lehman Bros. fail was fine, and I would have liked to see the rest of the investment houses go down with them. Unfortunately, our government has been infiltrated by Wall Street cronies who stood to benefit too much from bailing out their buddies. That must change, and soon.

Rollo Tomasi

October 26th, 2009
11:41 am

The problem is with congress. There needs to be a constitutional admendment that limits the terms of the H.O.R. and the Senate. I say 2 terms for HOR and 4 for Senate. With this change, Lobbyists ans SI groups would lose thier power and the elected leaders would be forced to serve the public and not companies. An elected official was not suppose to be a job, just a public service. The constitution needs to be amended to reflect this.

V for Vendetta

October 26th, 2009
12:08 pm

I wonder if anyone remembers what laissez faire capitalism is/was?

There is no such thing as “too big to fail.” The marketplace will restore the balance on its own. If you want to see where this boat of government intervention is headed, go pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged. It doesn’t end well for the government.

RMJ

October 26th, 2009
12:49 pm

Wow!!! I agree with everyone’s assessment. First of all if you are to big to fail I was taught that is a monopoly. The company should be split up. This will ensure competiveness and avoid to big to fail. Second of all what happen to market corrections? If companies keep receiving government welfare how can anyone really get a gauge on where the economy is? Lastly and most important what are the consequences for companies when their risky investments fail? How is works now, executives still get hefty bonuses and or golden parachuates (sorry if I spelled that wrong), the worker bee loses his job, shareholders lose wealth but the same executives who made risky decision receives welfare. The only folks suffering are the ones without the control. There needs to be a separation between government and business. Folks have gotten a little to cozy for my taste. And i’m pretty liberal, but enough is enough!!!

THOMAS BOYLEN

October 26th, 2009
2:00 pm

I WORKED FOR NATIONAL LIFE AND ACC. INS. COMPANY. AIG BOUGHT THEM OUT. THEY PULLED MONIES OUT OF THIS COMPANY. WE HAD BEEN PROMISED HEALTH CARE UPON RETIREMENT. WELL IT WAS GONE. THEN WE BOUGHT STOCK ALONG THE WAY. AIG SAID THAT THEIR MARKET STOCK WAS WORTH MORE. SOOOO THEY LOWERED THE VALUE OF OUR STOCK. THEN THEY TOOK THIS STOCK AND TRANSFERRED IT TO OTHER SECTIONS OF THEIR VAST COMPANY AND LOWERED ITS VALUE MORE. AND THEN…………..THE BIG COUPE……….THEY DID A REVERSAL AND GUESS WHAT. THE 550 SHARES THAT I STARTED OUT WITH HAD NOW BEEN LOWERED TO 17 SHARES. THIS IS HOW A LARGE COMPANY WITH OFFICIALS WHO ARE UNCARING FOR ITS STOCK HOLDERS CAN GROW AND THEN BE BROUGHT DOWN BY THEIR OWN GREED. IT IS A SAD SAD AFFAIR. TO TOP IT ALL , OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BAILED THEM OUT BUT LEFT THE SHAREHOLDERS OUT IN THE COLD ………………..IT SICKENS ME NOW END………………THANKS FOR LISTENING TOM BOYLEN

hrw

October 27th, 2009
11:36 am

That is the problem! When consumers do things wrong, we pay the price with no bail out from our government. Now, we tax payers have been deeply hurt, deceived, fraud and there is no cure insight for us. Billions of dollars have went to these big companies and they continue to pay their executives big payments and bonsus with the already bail out monies; and we continue to be without jobs and families are going deeper and deeper into homelessness. The money that banks borrow from the federal government they get it at zero percent; but when banks gives credit cards to consumers, they raise their rates and will do so again in february but that money is the tax payer money they should not have any rights to raise interest on what the tax payers has given them. America, we need to start writing our congressmen and representatives to let them know, this is not right. You will be paying fo the nex twenty years on your creidt cards with those high interest rates and you will never pay down your balances. Right now, beginning in 2010, you will be paying a $25.00 annual fees plus, having your interest rate go higher, balance reduced and other added fees that the banks deemed necessary. To make it very plain, the banks are continuing to slaughter the america consumers with their credit cards frauding and abuse they use on the consumers. So, no big companies should be bail out again and they should be treated like the consumers are being treated. If they fail, it is just like the consumers not being able to get help, so they should not either.