Printer Friendly

Rubin calls for modernization through reform of Glass-Steagall Act.

Robert E. Rubin, secretary of the Treasury, recommended that Congress pass legislation to reform or repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 to modernize the country's financial system. In testimony before the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services, Rubin said Clinton administration proposals would permit affiliations between banks and other financial services companies, such as securities firms and insurance companies. However, the secretary emphasized that the Clinton administration did not endorse affiliations between banks and industrial companies.

The Glass-Steagall Act was enacted during the Great Depression to restrict the securities activities and affiliations of banks and has long been seen as having separated commercial banking. The act was intended to protect banks, prevent conflicts of interest and other abuses and safeguard the financial system. Rubin said supporters of the act today say Glass-Steagall is necessary to protect the federal deposit insurance system.

"However," said Rubin, "the banking industry is fundamentally different from what it was two decades ago, let alone in 1933." He said the industry has been transformed into a global business of facilitating capital formation through diverse new products, services and markets. "U.S. banks generally engage in a broader range of securities activities abroad than is permitted domestically," said the Treasury secretary. "Even domestically, the separation of investment banking and commercial banking envisioned by Glass-Steagall has eroded significantly."

Rubin said Glass-Steagall imposed unnecessary costs and made providing financial services less efficient and more costly. He said the act can "conceivably impede safety and soundness by limiting revenue diversification." Rubin also said many legitimate concerns were addressed adequately outside the act, including the numerous steps taken to safeguard against risky and abusive bank transactions and to protect the deposit insurance fund.

Among Rubin's recommendations for financial modernization were

* Permitting a depository institution insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to affiliate with a securities firm, insurance company or other financial company.

* Repealing section 20 of the Glass-Steagall Act. Section 20 prohibits a bank that is a federal reserve system member from affiliating with a company principally engaged in underwriting or dealing in securities that a national bank cannot underwrite or deal in directly.

* Allowing insured depository institutions to affiliate only with firms that were well capitalized and well managed and had internal controls that adequately managed financial and operational risk, and only if the institutions' safety and soundness were unimpaired.

* Maintaining the Federal Reserve Board's authority to impose consolidated capital standards as a safeguard on bank holding companies whose subsidiary insured depository institutions constitute their principal business.

Rubin said bills introduced in the House and the Senate to modernize the financial services system were highly constructive, although somewhat different from the Clinton administration's recommendations, and that a bipartisan effort could yield significant results this year.
COPYRIGHT 1995 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Secretary of the Treasury Robert E. Rubin
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:May 1, 1995
Previous Article:Securities Litigation Reform Act passes the House.
Next Article:Small business gets some of what it wants from Congress - is more to come?

Related Articles
Modernizing banking: the repeal of Glass-Steagall.
Leach says Congress will consider merging BIF and SAIF funds.
Amid criticism, Treasury Secretary defends IRS modernization program.
House banking overhaul legislation is abandoned.
Statement by Alan Greenspan, Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, U.S....
Statement by Alan Greenspan, Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs,...

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters