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How Power and Influence Helped Big Banks Rewrite the Rules

Thursday, 26 January 2012 06:21 By Bill Moyers, Truthout | Program Announcement

Big banks are rewriting the rules of our economy to the exclusive benefit of their own bottom line. But how did our political and financial class shift the benefits of the economy to the very top, while saddling us with greater debt and tearing new holes in the safety net?

This weekend on Moyers & Company (check your local listings ), Bill Moyers talks with former Citigroup Chairman John Reed and former Senator Byron Dorgan to explore a momentous instance: how the mid-90’s merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group – and a friendly Presidential pen — brought down the Glass-Steagall Act, a crucial firewall between banks and investment firms which had protected consumers from financial calamity since the aftermath of the Great Depression. In effect, says Moyers, they put the watchdog to sleep.

Watch a special preview of the show before it airs on TV this weekend and online Friday evening.

Preview: Corporate Greed and Power from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

There’s no clearer example of the collusion between government and corporate finance than the Citicorp-Travelers merger, which -- thanks to the removal of Glass-Steagall -- enabled the formation of the financial behemoth known as Citigroup. But even behemoths are vulnerable; when the meltdown hit, the bank cut more than 50,000 jobs, and the taxpayers shelled out more than $45 billion to save it.

Senator Dorgan tells Moyers, “If you were to rank big mistakes in the history of this country, that was one of the bigger ones because it has set back this country in a very significant way.”

Now, John Reed regrets his role in the affair, and says lifting the Glass Steagall protections was a mistake. Given the 2008 meltdown, he’s surprised Wall Street still has so much power over Washington lawmakers.

“I'm quite surprised the political establishment would listen to groups that have been so discredited,” Reed tells Moyers. “It wasn't that there was one or two or institutions that, you know, got carried away and did stupid things. It was, we all did… And then the whole system came down.”

How Wall Street and Washington got together and stacked the deck against the rest of us, next on Moyers & Company

Click here to check local TV schedule information.

To see other articles and video from Moyers & Co. click here.

Bill Moyers

A broadcast journalist for more than four decades, Bill Moyers has been recognized as one of the unique voices of our times, one that resonates with multiple generations. In 2012, at the age of 77, Moyers begins his latest media venture with the launch of "Moyers & Company." With his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers, Bill Moyers has produced such groundbreaking public affairs series as "NOW with Bill Moyers" (2002-2005) and "Bill Moyers Journal" (2007-2010). 

For his work, Moyers has received more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, and three George Polk Awards. Moyers' most recent book, "Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues," was published in May 2011. He currently serves as president of the Schumann Media Center, a nonprofit organization that supports independent journalism.


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How Power and Influence Helped Big Banks Rewrite the Rules

Thursday, 26 January 2012 06:21 By Bill Moyers, Truthout | Program Announcement

Big banks are rewriting the rules of our economy to the exclusive benefit of their own bottom line. But how did our political and financial class shift the benefits of the economy to the very top, while saddling us with greater debt and tearing new holes in the safety net?

This weekend on Moyers & Company (check your local listings ), Bill Moyers talks with former Citigroup Chairman John Reed and former Senator Byron Dorgan to explore a momentous instance: how the mid-90’s merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group – and a friendly Presidential pen — brought down the Glass-Steagall Act, a crucial firewall between banks and investment firms which had protected consumers from financial calamity since the aftermath of the Great Depression. In effect, says Moyers, they put the watchdog to sleep.

Watch a special preview of the show before it airs on TV this weekend and online Friday evening.

Preview: Corporate Greed and Power from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

There’s no clearer example of the collusion between government and corporate finance than the Citicorp-Travelers merger, which -- thanks to the removal of Glass-Steagall -- enabled the formation of the financial behemoth known as Citigroup. But even behemoths are vulnerable; when the meltdown hit, the bank cut more than 50,000 jobs, and the taxpayers shelled out more than $45 billion to save it.

Senator Dorgan tells Moyers, “If you were to rank big mistakes in the history of this country, that was one of the bigger ones because it has set back this country in a very significant way.”

Now, John Reed regrets his role in the affair, and says lifting the Glass Steagall protections was a mistake. Given the 2008 meltdown, he’s surprised Wall Street still has so much power over Washington lawmakers.

“I'm quite surprised the political establishment would listen to groups that have been so discredited,” Reed tells Moyers. “It wasn't that there was one or two or institutions that, you know, got carried away and did stupid things. It was, we all did… And then the whole system came down.”

How Wall Street and Washington got together and stacked the deck against the rest of us, next on Moyers & Company

Click here to check local TV schedule information.

To see other articles and video from Moyers & Co. click here.

Bill Moyers

A broadcast journalist for more than four decades, Bill Moyers has been recognized as one of the unique voices of our times, one that resonates with multiple generations. In 2012, at the age of 77, Moyers begins his latest media venture with the launch of "Moyers & Company." With his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers, Bill Moyers has produced such groundbreaking public affairs series as "NOW with Bill Moyers" (2002-2005) and "Bill Moyers Journal" (2007-2010). 

For his work, Moyers has received more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, and three George Polk Awards. Moyers' most recent book, "Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues," was published in May 2011. He currently serves as president of the Schumann Media Center, a nonprofit organization that supports independent journalism.


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