Spiegel Editor In Chief Calls For Banking Separation

In yet another case of the Wendehals (“about-face” phenomenon), this week’s Spiegel print-edition carries an editorial by editor-in-chief Georg Mascolo titled “Separate the Banks.” He reports on Sanford Weill’s conversion and says that Glass-Steagall should never have been repealed. So far, he claims, there is not yet enough support for it, even if a “smart” German DAX CEO as Nikolaus von Bomhard (Munich Re) also wants to eliminate “the system’s construction error.”

To those, who object (including in the economics section of Spiegel), he says, Deutsche Bank will have to find itself another business model, but the pros clearly are more than the cons. The famous argument, that Lehman Borthers was an investment bank and would have had to be saved anyway, is true — but only in the present system. If you had a strict separation of banks, it is highly probable, that Lehman Brothers collapse would not have affected the whole financial system. Mascolo calls for a swift implementation of Glass-Steagall and says, it could be quick and it must be quick.

“The Glass-Steagall Act became possible, because a U.S. Senate commission had exposed the stupid, risky and sometimes criminal behavior of banks before the Great Depression. The outrage over it cleared the way for the law. Sometimes history does repeat itself. Glass-Steagall served the world well for decades; it would have been better to have never repealed the law. Now it is time to correct this mistake.”

Spiegel also has a feature on the Libor cartel, including the investigations of Deutsche Bank.

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