Yes, Bernie Sanders Knows Something About Breaking Up Banks

He was criticized for seemingly unclear answers in an interview, but taken as a whole, they mostly track with a plan he has put before Congress.

Comments: 54

  1. Tomorrow Krugman (who as the debate with Steve Keen and his textbook chapter on banks clearly showed has no idea about banks and banking) will write a blog post about how clueless Sanders is and how wonkish Hillary is (for one, to get big banks to pay you 200k a speech you need to truly floor them with your insight).

  2. All this talk about regulating the banks is unnecessary. All you have to do is just tell them to "cut it out!"

  3. Could be that Sec Clinton knows what she is talking about and can explain it. And Sanders, well, after reading the Daily News article, just isn't up to the job. Maybe that's why the "big banks" and by the way, Goldman Sachs is not a bank, want to hear from her. As a private citizen, she can take such speaking engagements and Sanders a sitting senator could also take such an engagement, but can't be paid. And after the round table with the Daily News, he's pretty much proven, he doesn't know enough about the banking system, or much of anything else, so who would want to hear him? And when was the last time a subway token was used in New York? Sort of reminds me of Geo. H. W. Bush dealing with scanners at a checkout for the first out of touch is that?

  4. cbd212 wrote “As a private citizen, [Clinton] can take such speaking engagements and Sanders a sitting senator could also take such an engagement, but can't be paid.”

    The Clintons have used public service to fill their coffers knowing full well that Hillary was planning a run for the presidency. This is unprecedented.

  5. Breaking up the banks is a very complicated endeavor that could have a very dramatic impact to the US, as well as the global, economy. Without intelligent execution by people who thoroughly understand the end game, the chances of a negative impact are as great as a positive impact. Sanders has not offered anything in the way of knowledge or process that would make me feel comfortable letting him attempt to execute such a massive financial restructuring.

  6. Sanders, by not making absolute statements as to his strategy to break up the banks at will, is actually acknowledging the very idea that this will require assistance from those with more expertise in the area than he specifically has. This is not a bad thing.

  7. Thank you, NYT, for taking this up and providing a balanced analysis.

  8. Neel Kashkari (Republican) has been discussing breaking up the banks since the beginning of 2016.

    "Minneapolis Federal Reserve president Neel Kashkari, who is pushing the government to consider breaking up the country's biggest banks, has booked former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to speak at his second conference."

  9. Oh come now. Bernie talks about the big bad banks 24/7, and sounds absolutely clueless about the mechanics of reforming them? And you claim he has deep knowledge that didn't surface then, but it's there somewhere?

    You sound like those people who claimed Bush was really smart, even if he couldn't speak intelligibly.

  10. At least he's able to give honest answers. Hillary Clinton would just dodge the questions. This is why presidents have advisers and officials in the White House. A president doesn't always have all the answers ahead of time. It's the idea that counts.

  11. Thank you for this report. It is nice to see people reporting the facts and not opinion pieces.

    CNN and other outlets have turned the interview into something that it wasn't.

    Sanders responded well and reading the full interview actually shows the deep understanding Sanders has in other areas.

    He is certainly not a one issue candidate.

    Again, thank you for impartial reporting. You guys rock!

  12. Wow. Am I really reading a fair and balanced article on Bernie in the NYT? Nice job! Maybe I'll keep my subscription for another month after all.

  13. "Taken as a whole, Mr. Sanders’s answers seem to make sense." As a result, Mr. Sanders’s apparent suggestion that the Treasury secretary could act unilaterally might betray a weak grasp of Dodd-Frank. Or he may simply be confused about what it contains." "Mr. Sanders is mostly cogent here." It speaks volumes that this is the best defense of Mr. Sanders's knowledge of issues central to his campaign that can be produced, however, "arcane and complex" they are.

  14. The reason Sanders is suggesting legislation may be needed is because Dodd-Frank is unclear on how to wind down systemically risky institutions. Several thousand pages authorizing Trasury to fill in the details (they still aren't finished), versus Glass-Stiegel that was relatively short, easy for all parties to understand, and easy to enforce.

  15. This article and one subway token will NOT get you a ride on the subway or a cup of coffee. Sanders' performance in that interview -- and overall his inability to address foreign policy issues -- speaks volumes.

  16. Thank you for the much needed clarifications. Extremely biased reporting earlier today has been misrepresenting Sanders as a fool who barely knows anything about his top issue, when in reality he just had a mediocre interview over some very technical and complex stuff, which was later misreported as basic questions that any politicians should be able to answer.

  17. Complex. Because Presidentin' is hard!?! If this is your mantra that you've been shouting over and over for months, you'd better know the nitty gritty, facts, and be able to dive into specifics. Epic fail.

  18. Utterly necessary if we are to avoid another financial meltdown like in 2008!

  19. Whoa! A reasonable analysis of this portion of his interview.

  20. Thank you, Peter Eavis. Anti-Bernie folks have dug a grave for him over in the comments section at WaPo and have been dancing around it with glee for hours. It's nice to have this quiet space to come to.

  21. People who know what they're talking about say that Sanders is smart and knows what he's talking about, even when they don't agree with him. One of the best economist explains more:

  22. Trolls registered in South Korea notwithstanding, read this pathetic interview and then decide - ''I'll have to look into it.'' Saunders had to see those questions coming 1,000,000,000,000 miles away. But, apparently not. Surprise. One stump speech doth not a policy make.

  23. Thank you, New YOrk Times!

    (Let's see if this article takes a more negative slant over the next few hours. haha)

  24. Break up banks and break up cable companies. For the record, I'm a Republican.

  25. Thank you! Sincerely. I read the interview in its entirety and I thought he had a terrific knowledge of a variety of subjects without coming across as scripted or an ideologue. Plus the Q&A format the interview was published lends itself to sounding conversational. If you've watched a Bernie speech on YouTube (which I highly recommend) he is always fully prepared and briefed with the most marvelous statistics and details that will make your head spin. Truly, I think he has the best mastery of the power of numbers of anyone in politics today.
    What are Hillary's detailed prescriptions anyway? She just says go to her website, which I have, and they're about as vague as I would expect from a GW Bush website.

  26. This is your subjective opinion and not based on Mr. Sanders actual answers. Talk about putting words in one's mouth. Bernie didn't come close to any of your responses. Kudos to the editorial board at the NY Daily News for asking the questions that should have been asked many, many months ago. Bernie is in way over his head. He never has been someone who is interested in really studying an issue. That requires work! He just likes to rail about platitudes and never offer any detailed solutions.

  27. But Cherryl, isn't this comment you made your own subjective opinion? Over 120 economists have endorsed Bernie Sanders' plans. There are always gonna be people on both sides of this.

  28. But, testgrounds, Bernie sounds like an idiot. Worse, an unprepared hack. That's a problem. Not in cheeseland. But, definitely in New York.

  29. Thank you Mr. Eavis for a detailed and insightful look at Sen. Sanders's policy on large financial institutions. Mr. Sanders seems to have a firm idea on how he would attempt to instate his policy. It won't be easy, but it is a way forward that, with the backing of the citizens, can succeed.

  30. It sounds like you, rather than Sanders, are the one who understands and are filling in what are glaring blanks in his answers. If his answers were truly sufficient for the amount of weight he puts on these issue in his speeches, his words and knowledge should be able to stand on it's own. This was not a surprise or an unexpected issue. this is the number one thing. He should know details inside and out. He should *know* what authorities the fed does or doesn't not currently have, to know what, exactly, needs to be made into legislation and what aspects of it are or are not negotiable. "We'll pass a law and it will happen" is not an inaccurate statement but it's not a goddamn plan!

  31. Hillary has criticized Bernie's stance on breaking up banks by saying there is already provision in Dodd-Frank to do this, if need be. Where's critical analysis in the article regarding this position?

  32. With all due respect, Mr. Eavis, your defense of Sanders's performance with the Daily News editorial board seems to come from some planet other than Earth. By contrast, actual Earthlings who've read the entire transcript are shocked to discover that on one of his signature issues Sanders exhibited gross ignorance of what it would take to do anything, falling back repeatedly on his stump speech talking points, and meandering into unrelated topics. The only real question for me is why it took the tabloid Daily News to ask the kind of hard questions the Times and Washington Post should have posed months ago.

  33. This is exactly the reason that I have not supported Bernie Sanders. I dig the guy, and appreciate his message on income inequality, but after reading that interview, he just seems extremely out of his depth. So does Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, is the experienced and pragmatic choice!

  34. Imperfect. Human. In for the long haul. Just a good person. The defamatory froth is simply amazing to me who knows her and knows what a real and warm human being she is -and smart! Hillary 2016!! Best choice Bill ever made!

  35. This is par-for-the-course for Sanders, and almost every other candidate, in that most of them are claiming they will be able to do things, that anybody knowledgeable about politics knows would be almost impossible

    Even though I reluctantly support her, Ms Clinton is far better than any Candidate on either side in proposing things that actually "could" get implemented
    She is the only one that actually has an intelligent financial-reform package, which has been on her website for at least 4 months
    - - -

    REALITY-CHECK: "Breaking up Banks" is actually a very minor concern, which is typical for Bernie, he is running on symbolism, with proposals that have zero chance of EVER being enacted
    1) Financial Industry has rigged the markets through things like High-Speed/High-Frequency Trading & Dark-Pools, where insiders can make profits with almost zero risk, and everybody else gets cheated
    2) 401ks were designed as a ripoff for the consumers and a bonanza for WallStreet
    3) Crooked judges, and poorly written laws have made it nearly impossible to convict people of insider trading, even when it can be proved 100%

  36. I refuse to agree that Bernie's proposals have zero chance of being enacted. Hillary said that about the $15 an hour minimum wage before both California and New York enacted it. She claimed the measure was "pie in the sky" and then took credit for baking that pie in New York.

    As to a single payer healthcare plan, they already passed one in Vermont, but the governor backed off the plan. It has a slim chance federally, but likely needs a 58-60 vote majority in the Senate depending on how many Republicans can be brought over. Several other countries have passed single payer plans over existing private insurance, including South Korea and Canada.

  37. I trust Bernie Sanders to enact real change. Hillary Clinton not so much. That's all that matters in the end.

  38. And how does Clinton's plan address those concerns?

  39. Senator Sanders, as the Democratic Presidential nominee, could call for a public campaign pledge by all candidates for Congressional office in the upcoming national elections to declare either their support or opposition to reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall legislation. One-third of all U. S. Senators and all of the House of Representatives will be up for re-election in 2016.

    This simple, short piece of legislation passed in 1933 following the collapse of Wall Street that led to the Great Depression proved itself effective to prevent the excesses of Wall Street greed and avarice by separating commercial and investment banking for seven decades. President Bill Clinton signed into law its demise in 1999, with nearly all Republicans and a majority of Democrats in favor. Sanders voted against the repeal legislation.

    The banks that were too big to fail in the 2008 financial crisis and had to be bailed out by U. S. taxpayers have grown even bigger. Tens of millions of ordinary Americans suffered immense losses in one form or another - lost employment and severe losses in retirement savings, for example. These voters might well be interested in such a litmus test to determine their choices for Congressional representatives BEFORE the November 2016 elections take place. Feel the Bern, baby!

  40. Senator Sander's recognizes that legislation is needed! How is that "significant?" Of course legislation is needed. The point is that there is a close to zero probability of getting such legislation passed. The House of Representatives has and will continue to have a Republican majority. Yes, the word "or" is also problematic.

  41. Taken on the whole Sanders’ interview was embarrassingly bad. At the very least it showed he has a serious problem organizing his thoughts, which is not a good thing. For the most part he couldn't answer the all important question, "how are you going to do that?”, for any of his big ideas. He went off into platitudes and political slogans to describe what should be done rather than how it is done. His explanation of how he was going to accomplish his revolution was like some opium induced feel-good fantasy. It reminded me of a song from the 60’s (by the Young Bloods) "Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try and love one another right now." It's a great song with an inspiring message but it's not a good strategy to get anything accomplished in today's politics.

  42. Bernie Sanders is spot on: if a bank is too big to fail it is too big to exist. Now that Panama is in the news the Daily News Editorial Board should ask Clinton why she as Secretary of State supported the 2011 Panama trade agreement when it was clear that an agreement with a small country like Panama was not going to do much to increase jobs in the U.S. Sanders explains why he voted against the Panama trade deal (and Colombia and Korea) in a 2011 senate floor speech:

    “Panama’s entire annual economic output is only $26.7 billion a year, or about two-tenths of one percent of the U.S. economy. No one can legitimately make the claim that approving this free trade agreement will significantly increase American jobs.

    “Then why would we be considering a stand-alone free trade agreement with this country?

    “Well, it turns out that Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade U.S. taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens. And, the Panama Free Trade Agreement would make this bad situation much worse.

    “The trade agreement with Panama would effectively bar the U.S. from cracking down on illegal and abusive offshore tax havens in Panama. In fact, combating tax haven abuse in Panama would be a violation of this free trade agreement, exposing the U.S. to fines from international authorities.”

    The transcript:

  43. Please before you hang this around Hillary's neck here are the Main points of the Panama Trade Agreement.
    New Opportunities for U.S. Workers, Manufacturers, Farmers, and Ranchers
    Over 87 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Panama became duty-free upon entry-into-force, with remaining tariffs phased out over ten years. U.S. products that gained immediate duty-free access includes information technology equipment, agricultural and construction equipment, aircraft and parts, medical and scientific equipment, environmental products, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and agro-chemicals. Nearly 56 percent of U.S. agricultural exports became duty-free upon entry-into-force, with most remaining tariffs phased out over 15 years. The TPA ensures that U.S. companies in Panama are protected against discriminatory or unlawful treatment, and provides a neutral and transparent mechanism for settlement of investment disputes. Panama’s TPA commitments cover Panama’s dynamic services sectors—accounting for roughly 70 percent of Panama’s economy
    The TPA commits both Parties to adopt and maintain in their laws and practice the five fundamental labor rights as stated in the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights to Work. Both Parties are also required to effectively enforce – and may not waive – labor laws related to fundamental labor rights.

  44. And in other news, the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars in "donations" from oil companies at the same time the State Dept. under Hillary's guidance was deciding to approve the tar sands pipeline that would benefit those same fossil fuel donors. Money influencing policy--who cares!

    The mainstream media is getting very nervous that someone who is not friendly to the financiers who fund their city might be the nomination. And how sadly ironic it is that Bernie is criticized for his lack of specifics on how to break up the very banks who brought our economy to its knees. The banksters who would have gone broke without a bailout from the taxpayers. The banksters who have shown they need real regulation.

  45. Scott,
    Nervous or afraid is an understatement ...seems that there are very few media organizations remaining that can resist the temptation to create a little self-serving spin when reporting or commenting on Candidate Sanders and others. We should be grateful to these media sources for exposing themselves and their true motivations for reporting skewed versions of reality. At least now we'll know for sure if we're being honestly informed or simply entertained by rodeo clowns.

  46. Let's try to distract the public as much as possible from the plain truth. Bernie was a Socialist Stag in the headlights in this Daily News Interview.

    His performance was pretty pathetic.

    ''I'll have to look into it.''

    Sanders is the naked emperor. He has no clue. He hasn't focused on the fact that Bank of China and other large national foreign banks compete and directly invest on U.S. companies and debt? He hasn't a clue.

    Glass Steagall - mixed results even when it applied to the outside world. Sanders has been on automatic pilot and a single stump speech for far too long. It will destroy him.

  47. "Glass Steagall - mixed results even when it applied to the outside world."

    Really? The U.S. avoided bubbles in the six decades following its implementation.

  48. How did Glass-Steagall have mixed results? Literally 0 big banks failed until they started loosening the restrictions. For over 50 years not a single big bank failed compared to every 15 years without it

  49. We have one side--the financiers--who tanked the economy by intentionally coming up with criminally fraudulent money making scams. On the other side, we have a candidate, who is not bought and paid for by the Street, who does not have all of the answers for controlling the criminals.

    So--we have to listen to the Street and the candidate they have given millions to?

    It is like saying the detective sounded confused in how to stop the criminals, so best to let the criminals run free.

  50. How does Bernie Sanders get this kind of treatment when the economic plan put forward by the Republicans has -- since George W. Bush -- been chock full of baloney. Where was the media when Republicans are telling us you can cut taxes, increase defense spending, balance the budget, and not increase the deficit (or maybe it's "deficits don't matter" depending on what time of day it is and who is currently offering the budget)?

    Compared to the nonsense that the Republicans keep claiming is possible -- cut taxes for everyone, especially the rich, and the economy will soar -- Bernie Sanders offers a plan that pays for what it does.

    If the Republicans for 20 years had offered a single plan that didn't ruin this economy I would have a bit of faith. But they haven't. Where is the media calling out their nonsense?

  51. "As a result, Mr. Sanders’s apparent suggestion that the Treasury secretary could act unilaterally might betray a weak grasp of Dodd-Frank. Or he may simply be confused about what it contains."

    In other words, he doesn't know Dodd-Frank, or he doesn't know Dodd-Frank.

  52. Read it all. Didn't bother me at all. Bernie answered all the questions without any problems.
    If readers are looking for a precision missile of an answer ask God. He knows everything everyone is thinking.
    Bernie did fine.
    Go find a real problem.

  53. How did we end up with failed politician Neel Kashkari on the Fed?
    Yes, I remember him well from the Bush treasury and bailout.
    I don't understand how a foray into partisan politics didn't disqualify him from the Fed.

  54. Let's get real.
    FDR did not write the bills that created the FDIC, the SEC, Social Security, The CCC or the NRA- he delegated and had advisors. Just like Obama did not write the Affordable Care Act.

    Presidents should be evaluated by their judgement and character- not their ability to describe arcane minutiae. I do not care if Hillary can name every leader in the Middle East- I care that she gave Dubya a blank check in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9-11 and apparently has yet to meet a war she didn't like. Bernie listened to the Bush Administration's arguments and found them wanting. That is what is important.