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TODAY: 80-Year Anniversary Of Great Stock Market Crash

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Author Topic: TODAY: 80-Year Anniversary Of Great Stock Market Crash  (Read 277 times)
Michelle Jahn
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« on: October 29, 2009, 01:10:36 pm »

The Great Lesson

By Elizabeth Warren

Historians generally focus on the October 29, 1929 stock market crash as the triggering event for the Great Depression. But the story has a longer arc.

From 1792 through the Great Depression, booms and busts followed each other like day follows night. But President Roosevelt and the New Dealers had an innovative idea: regulation might tame the boom-and-bust cycle. So they created a new Securities and Exchange Commission to bring some discipline to the financial markets, established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to make it safe to put money in banks, and passed the Glass-Steagall Act to separate ordinary banking from high-risk financial speculation.

America was protected from another financial crisis for almost 50 years. But in the late 1970s, we began to pull the threads from our regulatory fabric, overturning laws and cutting enforcement. The results were the S&L crisis, Long Term Capital Management, Enron, and now, the subprime mortgage meltdown.

There are signs that we may have learned our lesson. Last week, the House Financial Services Committee voted for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would consolidate scattered and ineffective consumer credit regulations and establish a home in Washington for policymakers dedicated to rebuilding the middle class. Other reforms are also starting to move.

The banking lobby is as powerful and deeply entrenched as ever, but it was powerful in the 1930s, too. Nonetheless, the New Dealers learned the Great Lesson: Powerful insiders cannot be permitted to write the rules, and prosperity and security depend on a playing field that supports a vibrant middle class. Today, we face a similar set of questions as we faced then. Will the institutions that created the crisis continue calling the shots and writing the rules, or will Washington take the side of families? Have we learned the Great Lesson?

Elizabeth Warren is chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts and first proposed a new federal agency for consumer financial products in 2007.

Will the Day that Lehman Died Mark the Movement to a New Paradigm?

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