Barney Frank says size doesn’t matter–when it comes to banks


On Wednesday’s NOW with Alex Wagner, former Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Barney Frank joined Alex and the panel to give an update on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, almost three years after it was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

“Yes, I am somewhat disappointed,” Frank said when asked by Alex Wagner if he was upset by recent efforts by conservatives and financial industry lobbyists to gut parts of the bill. ”On the other hand I think there is more progress being made, I think, than people sometimes realize and I am confident of this–we will have a good set of rules in place.”

Two recent magazine articles in The Nation and Washington Monthly have shone a spotlight on the efforts of industry lobbyists to scale back regulatory efforts.

When Alex Wagner noted that the banks are now bigger than ever before–the top four U.S. commercial banks: J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo own $7.8 trillion in assets, or about half the size of the entire U.S. economy–Franks said the size isn’t what mattered.

“Yes, they have gotten bigger, but in fairness to them they have gotten bigger in part because the government asked them to,” he said, noting that the Bush administration pushed for J.P. Morgan’s acquisition of Bear Stearns and Bank of America’s takeover of Merrill Lynch during the 2008 financial crisis.

“The critical statistic here is not how big they are, but how well regulated they are and how well capitalized they are,” he said. “ They are much better capitalized than they were before.”

Barney Frank says size doesn't matter--when it comes to banks