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Is 'too big to fail' a permanent state?

The Bear Stearns headquarters (L) and JP Morgan Chase headquarters (R) are seen in New York.

Today is the fifth anniversary of the rescue of Bear Stearns by the Federal Reserve. The very moment, perhaps, when "too big to fail" became a standard part of our economic lexicon.

To commemorate the five-year anniversary, Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, will speak at the big political conference going on this week, the Conservative Political Action Committee, or CPAC, where he's going to say we ought to break up the big banks. That they are still "too big to fail."

"The banks only got bigger following the financial crisis," said John Carney from CNBC. "Regulators and their bosses on Capitol Hill, the congressmen and senators,are mostly mentally-captured by the big banks. They just think that this is the way things have to be."

Carney thinks Fisher will get a warm welcome at CPAC this weekend.

"This really seems to be something that bridges the political spectrum where you have people on the left saying we should do something and people on the right," said Carney.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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I don't think that doing a regulatory break up would result in anything. Just make tax rates that make it too burdensome to be 'too big' and they'll break themselves up.
In my mind they banks aren't too big to fail, they're too interconnected to fail. Why does it matter if one of them fails? It matters because all of the other banks have so much invested with/into the other banks, that if one goes down they all struggle. So even if the banks were smaller they'd still be just as interconnected and have the same systemic problems.

Too Big to Fail, TBTF, also stands for Too Big to Function. Recent experience with Citi Bank bears this out.

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