BILL MOYERS: This Week on Moyers and Company.

JOHN REED: If you had asked me under oath, what probability I would have given that you would have gotten the whole group of Wall Street precipitants to get it wrong, so to speak. I would have said zero.


BYRON DORGAN: 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 and caused so much heartbreak and heartache, and a near total collapse of the American economy.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to our third episode about the powerful players in high places who rewrote the rules of American politics and the economy. You can read all about it in this book: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.

If you missed the first two programs, you can see them on our new website, The first is with Winner-Take-All authors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson; the second with David Stockman and Gretchen Morgenson on “crony capitalism.”

In this edition, we’ll look at a seminal moment when Wall Street and Washington stacked the deck against the rest of us.

Remember, this is the political equivalent of a crime story, a mystery. How is it that our economy stopped working for the broad majority of Americans? 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? In other words, how did politics create a winner-take-all economy?

Well it didn’t happen by accident. This was an inside job, politically engineered by Wall Street and Washington working hand-in-hand, sticky fingers with sticky fingers, to turn the legend of Robin Hood on its head: giving to the rich and taking from everybody else. It’s all on the record.

The richest of the rich was Citigroup, at one time the world’s largest financial institution. When the 2008 meltdown hit, the bank cut more than 50 thousand jobs, and taxpayers shelled out more than $45 billion to save it. So how are Citigroup executives doing these days?

Nicely, thank you. Last year, its CEO, Vikram Pandit, took home almost two million dollars in salary, almost four million dollars in deferred stock, stock options that may be worth as much as six and a half million dollars, and a $16 million retention bonus.

There’s no clearer example of the collusion between government and finance than the deal that created Citigroup in the first place.

At a standing room only press conference in April 1998, Sandy Weill, head of the investment bank and insurance company Travelers group, and John Reed, the longtime CEO of the commercial bank Citicorp, announced a gigantic, $140 billion merger.

Just one problem: the merger flew in the face of this law.

You’re looking at the Banking Act of 1933, also known as Glass-Steagall. Glass Steagall was enacted during the Great Depression to prevent investment banks from ever again gambling with people’s life savings, as they had before the market crash of 1929. Glass-Steagall protected us against a repeat of that calamity for seventy years. It’s a little bitty thing -- just 37 pages -- for the big job it did for us.

Glass-Steagall was still in force when Travelers and Citicorp went ahead with their merger. What made them think they could get away with it? Well, they had friends in high places. Friends who helped them exploit a loophole giving them two years to get rid of Glass-Steagall.

Among those friends, the laissez-faire, libertarian chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan; the right-wing Republican Senator from Texas, Phil Gramm, who once called Wall Street “a holy place,” and later would become a high priest at the global banking giant, UBS; and the democratic Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin, former co-chair of Goldman Sachs and tireless advocate of taking down Glass-Steagall. In the weeks before its repeal Rubin left government to join, are you ready for this, Citigroup’s board, the very financial giant made possible by Glass-Steagall’s elimination.

And so it was – the fix was in, the path was cleared all the way to the top.

JOHN REED: Sandy called his friend the President last night and invited me to join in on the conversation and we had a good talk. So the President was in fact told last evening about what was going to happen.

BILL MOYERS: You got that, I’m sure. Wall Street was telling the President of the United States what was going to happen.

Within two years, Glass-Steagall was deader than a doornail. With the stroke of a pen, President Bill Clinton signed legislation that eliminated its protections and gave Citigroup the green light.

John Reed retired from Citigroup a year later, after losing out in a power struggle with Sandy Weill. He went on to serve as interim CEO of the New York Stock Exchange and now chairs the board at MIT. As Wall Street collapsed in 2008, Reed watched in disbelief, and began to have second thoughts about it all including the wisdom of repealing Glass-Steagall.

You were a key player when Traveler’s and Citicorp merged. How big was this to you at that time?

JOHN REED: It was not that big. You know, it clearly was an important transaction from our point of view. And it was hopefully -- it turned incorrectly -- but it was hopefully going to transform sort of the opportunity space in which the bank operated from a business point of view.

Our customers were saying, "Hey, we don't want to come to you for loans. They're too expensive. We can sell our paper into the capital markets more cheaply. We can finance ourselves more cheaply."

BILL MOYERS: Your customers being?

JOHN REED: Being large companies. And these customers were saying, "We want you to intermediate the capital markets.” Now that is the traditional business of what we then called investment banks. And Glass-Steagall had separated out those who were principally engaged, which is a very important phrase, in the capital markets which were then the investment banks and the brokers and so forth from the commercial banks.

BILL MOYERS: Glass-Steagall was the act passed during the New Deal back in the 1930s that was designed to put a firewall between the investment firm and the traditional banking firm. So you couldn't take my deposits or grandma's deposit and take risk with it, right?

JOHN REED: Well, that and even more importantly, or equally importantly, since the FDIC came into existence at approximately a similar time where the government was guaranteeing deposits so that people didn't lose if a bank got into trouble-- people didn't lose their lifetime savings. My father lost his lifetime savings during the Depression. And it was quite a family event. And if he had ever known I worked in a bank he would have died yet again.

But not only did they want to keep the banks from the business for reasons of not risking the money. They didn't want them to use the guarantee that the government provided for those deposits to leverage their position. Because, you know, if you have a deposit base that's guaranteed by the government, it sure puts you at a great advantage in terms of going into the market and playing around.

BILL MOYERS: The government's going to pick up your losses, right?

JOHN REED: Yeah. And you don't have a funding problem.

BILL MOYERS: That was what the FDI--

JOHN REED: Because you have guaranteed deposits.

BILL MOYERS: That was Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was designed to protect my --

JOHN REED: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: My deposit in your bank.

JOHN REED: That's right. And they wanted to make sure that it was used for that purpose and not as a basis for doing other things in the capital markets.

BILL MOYERS: So this is why the financial community wanted to repeal or eliminate the Glass-Steagall Act. They wanted to get rid of this firewall?

JOHN REED: Yes. And the reason was our customers increasingly said, "Look, we can't use you banks for finance because there are opportunities in the capital market that are much cheaper. And if you can't help us go there then we're going to go to the investment banks. And so all of a sudden we saw our customers migrating out towards the investment banking community to do the business that we would have preferred to have done. So from Citibank's point of view, our point of view, this merger gave us access to the capital markets. And so we were in a position to offer our customers the services that they wanted.

NEWS REPORT: They plan to attract new customers with one stop shopping: Stocks, bonds property and life insurance and banking. Federal Regulators must approve the deal. Most banks are now prohibited from selling stocks and insurance.

JOHN REED: When Sandy approached me on the merger I knew that it was right on the forefront of the legal thing. But there’s a technicality Citibank could not have bought Travelers because that was out and out illegal. Travelers on the other hand could buy Citi because they were buying a bank and they had two years in which to correct for the deviation from the law. And what we basically were told was, "If you all want to do this within the two years we'll get the law changed."

BILL MOYERS: Because if in that two-year period as I understand it, Glass-Steagall had not been changed, this merger -- which had already taken place -- would have been illegal.

JOHN REED: We would have to take it apart. And we took steps to make sure that was possible.

BILL MOYERS: But you got the blessing in this two-year period of President Clinton, of the Fed, of--

JOHN REED: We had that blessing prior to. In other words—

BILL MOYERS: What? They assured you that this—


BILL MOYERS: Glass-Steagall would be--

JOHN REED: Yes. In other words, I went with Sandy to call on Chairman Greenspan. We told him we were contemplating this merger. But that it would required that the Fed would be prepared to grant us permission. And we were assured that they would.

We went and saw the Chairman of the House Banking Committee, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. And we said we're talking about this merger but it could not take place if we were not assured that it would be approved at the Congressional level. We talked to the Secretary of the Treasury, I don't recall--

BILL MOYERS: Robert Rubin? He was the Secretary of the Treasury at the time.

JOHN REED: Yeah, we would've spoken to him, I'm sure. And had Bob Rubin said, "No, the Treasury feels this is wrong," we would've been careful. Because obviously, the Treasury recommends to the President on an issue of this sort. And there was no argument. No one said, “We’ll have to think about it.” And so a consensus built up. I don’t think it started in the Fed. I would guess it started in the industry, it certainly got into the Congress.

SENATOR TIM JOHNSON: (Speaking on Senate Floor) By eliminating the Glass-Steagall restrictions we free our financial services industry to maintain its place as the world leader…

SENATOR PHIL GRAMM: (Speaking on Senate Floor) We dominate the world financial market, and we’ve done it with one hand tied behind us because we have the greatest economic system in the history of the world. But we can untie that hand that we have had tied behind us. And we do it in this bill by repealing Glass-Steagall.

JOHN REED: Lawmakers inevitably learn as lobbyists tell them things. It’s sort of like a doctor being sold new medicines, they can’t stay on the forefront of the pharmaceutical technology, they rely on being educated to some extent.

SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER: (Speaking on Senate Floor) This bill is vital for the future of our country. If we didn’t pass this bill, we could find London or Frankfurt or years down the road, Shanghai, becoming the financial capital of the world.

JOHN REED: There was no one in the press who said, “Oh no, that’s wrong.” There was a celebration. And the industry, including myself, didn't recognize the danger.

BILLMOYERS: The danger being?

JOHN REED: That we could make a mistake that would then be transmitted in a much more drastic way throughout the system.

BILL MOYERS: Which happened later.

JOHN REED: Which happened, yeah. I mean if you had asked me under oath, what probability I would have given that you would have gotten the whole group of Wall Street participants to get it wrong so to speak, I would have said zero.

SENATOR BYRON DORGAN: (Speaking on Senate Floor) We are with this piece of legislation moving towards greater risk. We are almost certainly moving towards substantial new concentration and mergers in the financial services industry, that is almost certainly not in the interest of consumers, and we are deliberately…

BILLMOYERS: A handful of politicians who tried to sound the alarm. Among them was Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota.

SENATOR BYRON DORGAN: (Speaking on Senate Floor) What does it mean if we have all this concentration and merger activity? Well, the bigger they are, the less likely this government can allow them to fail.

BILL MOYERS: Were you aware of the few senators who raised real concerns about removing Glass-Steagall, about what would happen?

JOHN REED: No one that I’m aware of it saw it clearly. You point out to some Senators and Congressmen who did, but somehow we described them peripheral. And I simply said, “They’re wrong.” Turned out they weren’t.

SENATOR BYRON DORGAN: (Speaking on Senate Floor) I think we will in ten years’ time look back and say, “We should not have done that, because we forgot the lessons of the past.”

BILL MOYERS: Senator Dorgan predicted disaster. Disaster's what we got in 2008.

JOHN REED: Yeah, no, they -- and disaster-- it wasn't solely Glass-Steagall, because much of the disaster of 2008 would've occurred independently of it, I believe. But certainly the propagation of the problem throughout the economy was greatly aided by the absence of Glass-Steagall. You know, we would've hit the iceberg anyway, I believe.

But the ship would've had compartments which would've been flooded. And question is, would the whole ship have gone down? Because had it been compartmentalized, we still would’ve had a disaster. It still would've involved very important institutions. But it might not have spread throughout the whole ship. That's the real issue.

BILL MOYERS: What do you think they saw that Wall Street didn't see?

JOHN REED: They simply didn't participate in the exuberance.

But I do think that, you know, this setting up the deck of cards so that we could produce what we currently are trying to withdraw from. Turns out to have been something that the word disaster is maybe not strong enough.

BILL MOYERS: Well, some people now say the deck was stacked, that the game was rigged against the broad interest of the public.

JOHN REED: No, I definitely agree. And, I mean, the proof is there. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that we'd been wrong.

BILL MOYERS: But it takes somebody principled to admit that, "I was wrong."

JOHN REED: No, no. It's not something you'd like to end your career with. That is for sure. No, look. We got carried away. It wasn't any small group, it was a consensus that reached the press, it reached the political world. It certainly had reached the intellectual world. I'm now, as you know, at MIT, and I say to some of my academic friends that the intellectual underpinnings of this was created at MIT and places like that, I mean—

BILL MOYERS: With the technology of the computers?

JOHN REED: Well, no. It's all of this mathematics of finance and the presumption in much of this mathematics that you can capture risk by looking at historical volatility and so forth and so on. As soon as you say something appears not to be risky, you get an over investment in it, because the capital requirements are less. And then if something does go wrong, the hurt is all the more because you don't have the capital to take the risks. And you know, if somebody says, "Walk across that sheet of ice, there's no danger whatsoever you're going to fall in," you know, you're fine. As long as you don't fall in.

BILL MOYERS: Are you saying, suggesting that -- the chairman of the board of MIT's suggesting --that human intelligence no longer runs our financial system?

JOHN REED: Well, it's a little wisdom balance that judgment wouldn't hurt.

BILL MOYERS: So how, when you look back on it, how did so many people, including yourself, get it wrong?

JOHN REED: We were carried away by the enthusiasm. And like everything else, you know, once you start you probably go a little further than you should have.

We started out lending mortgages to customers and putting them on our balance sheet. Then in the '90s, when the mortgage-backed securities came in to being, we found that you couldn't economically do that, so we would package our mortgages and we'd sell them to a Wall Street firm, who would then pass them on to their customers. Pretty soon, we were in the business ourselves, after the merger.

And so all of a sudden, these mortgage-backed securities could be distributed throughout our own company. And pretty soon people said, "Well, why only package the securities that your customers create? Why don't we go out to mortgage brokers and start buying some of their securities? And we'll package those and we'll sell them."

And then, I was retired at the time, but you read in the press and you may even have seen on television, no doc and low doc. Now, no doc/low doc means no documentation or low documentation. Low meaning less than the regulators would require of you.

BILL MOYERS: You didn't ask the person, the homeowner who was buying the house, "Show me proof of your wages. Show me proof of your savings."

JOHN REED: That's right. But can you imagine that you publicly acknowledge that you were creating products and selling them into the market that had no documentation or less than normal required documentation? And this was -- it's sort of like taking a product and putting a skull and crossbones on it and saying, "This might be poison," and putting it on the supermarket shelves.

BILL MOYERS: You know, I hear you talk. And I think, "Well, human beings certainly can go insane. So can systems, right?"

JOHN REED: Yeah, and so can groups of human beings. In the 90s, the investors took over. And they basically said to management, "We don't care what you do. We don't care how many private jets, houses, golf courses, swimming pools, whatever you have, as long as you keep the share price going up. If share price goes down, we're going to get rid of you even if you're good.”

And managers started being scared of their stockholders and this idea of shareholder value came into being. I never heard the word "shareholder value" until the '90s. It was customers, customers, customers. How are the customers? Are we doing well? Are we losing place with the customers? But all of a sudden -- and Sandy was a total proponent.

BILL MOYERS: Sandy Weill?

JOHN REED: Sandy Weill. I mean, his whole life was to accumulate money. And he said, "John, we could be so rich." Being rich never crossed my mind as an objective value. I almost was embarrassed that somebody would say out loud. It might be happening but you wouldn't want to say it.

But you know, the biggest bonus I had ever received when I was at Citi was three million dollars. The first year I worked with Sandy it was 15. I said to the board, "I'm the same guy doing the same job, same company. There are two of us. The company's bigger but there're two of us. What's going on?" "Oh, you don't understand." And it was just totally different culture. And see, Wall Street developed that culture.

BILL MOYERS: That's what happened, isn't it, in the --

JOHN REED: Yeah. No, and it happened. It happened in Wall Street and there's a subset of the world, that self-selects, for whom money is an overriding value. And being personally rich somehow is something they aspire to. And you know, it's a minority of the population. Bill Gates certainly did not start Microsoft to become rich. Nor do I think Steve Jobs went back to Apple because he wanted to be rich.

These were byproducts. They became rich, but as a byproduct. But there is a subset of the population that self-selects and they go to Wall Street because that's where it's somewhat legitimate. You could do the same thing illegally. And there are people who do that. I mean, there is a drug cartel and so forth and so on. But the thing that has amazed me is, A, it's fairly large and, two, it's sort of been accepted.

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain that?

JOHN REED: That's one of these mind changes. I don't know. When I joined the bank, they said, "Never put on the bank's balance sheet something you wouldn't sell your mother.”

BILL MOYERS: Is this an accurate thumbnail sketch of what happened over this period of time? Banks took too many risks, right?

JOHN REED: Yes, they did. But there are worse things, but they certainly did.

BILL MOYERS: What were the worse things?

JOHN REED: Well, they originated and sold into the marketplace things that should never have been originated.

BILL MOYERS: Derivatives, unregulated derivatives?

JOHN REED: Well, it was the excess mortgages, the no-doc, low-doc mortgages. And then the derivatives were a byproduct. Once you had those, then you could chop 'em up and so forth. And of course they had changed their mindset. They were in the business to make money, period.

BILL MOYERS: The exuberance, you said, took over. Isn't it democracy supposed to be a brake, B-R-A-K-E, on greed and power in the private sector? To keep the balance-- to keep the exuberance from going too far, as it did in this case?

JOHN REED: It should. But you're a better historian than I am. I don't know, but I would guess the democratic systems tend to go back and forth.

BILL MOYERS: Like a seesaw.

JOHN REED: Like a seesaw.

BILL MOYERS: But when you take the watchdog off the beat, as happened in the 1990s, when you lift Glass-Steagall and throw it into the dustbin of history, you're removing any check in behalf of the public on the exuberance of the private sector.

JOHN REED: You're-- I mean, a consensus developed. The fact that we took it out was a byproduct of this mistaken belief in this modern financial system that was, quote, "more efficient," was very lucrative for the United States and the U.S. economy in global terms.

And which was supposed to handle risk better. In fact, it handled risk worse. I mean, this is what the facts are because there was a much greater concentration of risk created. And so we got it wrong.

But the restraint of the government and it's agencies disappeared in the enthusiasm.

And so it was this combination of the participants getting carried away, the normal checks and balances that should exist against participants.

And the thing that is astounding, frankly, and there's a lesson here that we probably haven't yet learned, is that the system can get it so wrong. It wasn't--

BILL MOYERS: So wrong?

JOHN REED: 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. You know, it became illiquid, the government stepped in. Had the government not stepped in, it really would have come to an end.

BILL MOYERS: Should the government have spent billions of dollars of taxpayer money in bailing out the banks?

JOHN REED: I think they had no choice. I think they had to do it, yes.


JOHN REED: The alternative was worse. Letting the banks all collapse, which would have spread across the world, because banks lend to banks. So the interconnections were such that they just couldn't allow a meltdown of that scale. And we see in the Lehman bankruptcy that we're -- I don't know how many years since but it must be three or four. And they're still unraveling the bits and pieces.

And had it been the whole system, it simply would have been a calamity that from a societal point of view would have been worse. So I think they had no choice. They did have to bail them out. And they did do it. And it did succeed.

BILL MOYERS: But they left in place the very people who had driven the ship into the iceberg.

JOHN REED: I'm quite surprised at that. It clearly has not been a clean sweep. In other words, those of us who made mistakes, and so forth and so on, are still floating around the system. And--

BILL MOYERS: Floating it? You're running it.

JOHN REED: Well, I am not, but --

BILL MOYERS: You're not running it, they're running it.

JOHN REED: But there are many who are. I wasn't involved, obviously. I had retired in the year 2000. We're now talking 2008. So I was a knowledgeable spectator, but certainly not a participant. I was quite surprised because, frankly, the worst thing that can happen to a businessman is to go bankrupt. That's the sign of ultimate failure. You ran a business and it was unable to succeed under the terms and conditions of private capital. Namely, you went bankrupt.

It's not a crime. But it certainly is a mistake. And these companies, even though they didn't have to file for bankruptcy, de facto went bankrupt. And so the managements and the boards and the regulators should have, in my mind stepped aside.

BILL MOYERS: How hard was it for you to go before Congress in 2010 and say, "I was wrong. I made a mistake." In fact, you said, "We created a monster."

JOHN REED: No, we -- look. You don't like saying this. The hard part probably preceded my testimony by two or three years, where I came to recognize and feel, and I still feel bad. And I feel bad for the people at CitiBank who lost jobs and so forth and so on. Not to mention our stockholders. But I am a realist. I try very hard to be honest with myself, and honest in what I say. And facts are facts. I've seen Sandy a couple times. Not --

BILL MOYERS: Sandy Weil.

JOHN REED: Yeah, Sandy Weil. And I sort of say, "Sandy, you know, we didn't do very well." And he's not comfortable with that conversation at all. I think he would still defend that it was a good merger, it just went off the tracks afterwards. I --

BILL MOYERS: When it went off the tracks, John, you know, millions of people lost their jobs. Millions of people lost their homes. Millions of people saw their savings --

JOHN REED: If you look at the lost product in the United States, in other words, the difference between our current economic trajectory and the potential economic trajectory, you're talking about trillions of dollars. And those dollars are jobs and output and so forth and on so. I mean we over leveraged. And that was because we were creating mortgages so as to sell them into the market. And we're creating them from customers who probably should not have been borrowing. They didn't know what they were originating, didn't know who was buying it, and they didn't care. They were getting paid commissions along the way.

And that's a fundamentally flawed system. If you say to a businessman, "What is your objective?" and he says, "My objective is to make money," there are no boundaries on that. I mean, it's only the law as to what you do in the middle. It would be better if you said, "I'm in business to serve my customers,” or “to create a product like an iPad or what have you." But something that has intrinsic value. And all of a sudden, we changed to, "Hey, I'm not totally sure what we're doing here. Maybe it's not right. But you know what, I'm getting paid my commission." And that mindset took over. And a lot of that money did flow into the political coffers. There's no question--

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

JOHN REED: Donations. You know, if you're rolling in money in a business, it's very easy for you to have a PAC and to contribute to campaigns and so forth and so on. And we went through a period of time when there was an immense amount of money. I don’t mean small. I mean, we took-- this is the biggest economy in the world. And we went from 15 to 25 percent of the economy.

BILL MOYERS: The financial community did?

JOHN REED: The financial--

BILL MOYERS: Industry.

JOHN REED: The financial sector, yeah. But the point is our government is designed fundamentally to be dumb but to listen. In other words, no one is elected to the government because of their personal expertise in the various issues that they're going to have to deal with. We have a system that is designed to listen.

BILL MOYERS: But if money gets you greater access--

JOHN REED: But unfortunately the talk of what you're listening to gets distorted by the money issue. They're not randomly listening to the population at large. They're listening to people who have a strong voice, because they're strong contributors and so forth and so on.

BILL MOYERS: I think you've taken us to a very fundamental issue that's roiling the country at the moment. And it is that this is an-- democracy is no longer a level playing field or even approximately a level playing field. The big institutions have so much money that they can flood into the system. There's one study I saw just the other day that reports the number of people lobbying today on behalf of the financial industry to try to weaken Dodd-Frank, the bill passed after the disaster, outnumbers consumer, union, and other groups by a ratio of 25 to one. The financial industry outspending everybody else 25 to one to try to weaken Dodd-Frank.

JOHN REED: I'm quite surprised that the political establishment would listen to groups that have been so discredited.

BILL MOYERS: You're saying despite what happened in 2008, Wall Street still has too much power?

JOHN REED: They have too much voice. They certainly are being listened to. I find it incredible. I would have guessed that society, at large, would have said, "Hey, we made a mistake. Let's get some rules." You know? I used to tell my kids, "Why do you think a car has brakes?" And they all would say, "To stop." And I'd say, "No, a car has brakes so that you can drive fast. If you got into a car that had no brakes and you knew it, how fast do you think you would drive? You wouldn't drive very fast at all." And that's the same reason we have rules. You want the private sector to be free to be creative and exuberant and whatever, within a framework, okay?

BILL MOYERS: You testified in front of the Senate Banking Committee, you came out in support of what we call the Volcker Rule. For the layman, what is the Volcker Rule and why do you support it?

JOHN REED: The rule simply says, "If you have a customer who wants to issue a bond, you could help him. But you can't trade in the bond market for your own account."

And so what the rule does is it basically puts the banks back into the customer business and allows the Wall Street community to be in the pure trading and the business of speculation and hedge funds and so forth. And it separates those.

BILL MOYERS: Sounds to me like you're calling the Glass-Steagall Act back from the grave.

JOHN REED: I think I am.


JOHN REED: I just think it’s better that we have that barrier than not. It makes sure that the FDIC guarantee doesn't provide a funding base for proprietary trading activities. Remember, the government guarantees your savings account and mine in the local bank. And, correctly, we don’t want the government's guarantee for those accounts to act as a funding base for somebody who's speculating in the market. And so it’s that kind of separation.

It's a prudent barrier. And I'm astounded that anybody would be against it. And mind you, I'm a private sector guy. I'm not suggesting over government intervention. But you need rules. I would never let you or a friend or my kids drive a car without brakes.

BILL MOYERS But when the financial community can buy the rules they want --

JOHN REED: Then you've got an unstable situation. That's an intolerable situation. I mean, obviously.

BILL MOYERS: So do you have any sympathy for Occupy Wall Street, the movement that has in a very inchoate, but nonetheless, persistent way, been out across the country, trying to get us to pay attention?

JOHN REED: Yeah, no, I definitely do. I mean, I think it's symptomatic of the disconnect that exists in our discourse now. Where you have a set of folks who seem not to understand fully what went on and the implications of it. And a political establishment that doesn't seem to respond very well. They know a lot about the concerns, but they seem not to be able to do anything about them.

And the folks in the financial system are not listening. They're not saying, you know what, there's some correctness in these views. And so I think these people are giving voice to a frustration. And I am quite understanding of it. I hope the political establishment has some ears. I understand the political divisions. But they've got to start understanding that at some point you have got to come together

BILL MOYERS: John, thank you very much.

JOHN REED: Thank you. I’ve enjoyed it.

BILL MOYERS: John Reed and many others say they were taken by surprise when the country’s biggest financial institutions went bust in 2008. But it wasn’t as if they hadn’t been warned.

SENATOR BYRON DORGAN: (Speaking on Senate Floor) I believe that when this legislation is enacted…

BILL MOYERS: Remember Byron Dorgan? He sounded the alarm about the dangers of striking down Glass-Steagall. But his concerns were dismissed by Wall Street, by the Clinton White House and most of his own colleagues in Congress. But on the day of the vote, the Senator from North Dakota gave one of the most prescient speeches in our political history.

SENATOR BYRON DORGAN: (Speaking on Senate Floor) I worry very much that the fusing together of the idea of banking which requires not just safety and soundness to be successful but the perception of safety and soundness…to merge it with inherently risky speculative activity, is in my judgment unwise. I think we will in 10 years’ time look back and say we should not have done that.

BILL MOYERS: Ten years later, 2008, your prophecy came true. Our financial system came crashing down, and taxpayers, as you had predicted, had to bail out the banks, just as you said we would. You take any pleasure out of being right?

BYRON DORGAN: No, I mean, there's no pleasure in this country for what happened, no pleasure for me to see. I mean, in many ways, it isn't, kind of, an irony that ten years after I predicted that ten years we might see massive bailouts, it happened. I didn't know that, but I just expected that we were creating real trouble for this country, really big trouble.

BILL MOYERS: What did you know that no one else knew?

BYRON DORGAN: I don't know that I knew something. I felt something very important about all of this. I you know, I had read what went on in the Great Depression, kind of understood what caused a collapse back then, and the unbelievable heartbreak and pain for this country.

Closing of the banks and people losing their jobs and losing hope and so on. Well, we put together a remedy as a result of what had caused the Great Depression, the speculation, the orgy of greed and so on, on Wall Street. The remedy was Glass-Steagall and other protections that said we're going to separate banking from the more risky enterprises -- real estate, securities, insurance. And so, we're not going to let this happen again. And that legislation was passed.

And it lasted for, what, 70 years or so, and worked well for this country. And then, all of a sudden, what happened with this shift politically where those that had capital in this country, Wall Street and others -- had a profound influence on the political class, and said, you know what, we want to change this in our interests. We want to get rid of Glass-Steagall. Let's throw aside these barriers because we want to do what we want to do. And they just caused an avalanche of effort here in Congress to decide we've got to get rid of Glass-Steagall. It's old-fashioned, it hurts America and so on.

BILL MOYERS: That's a great term for it. How did they create an avalanche here in Washington?

BYRON DORGAN: First of all, they have a lot of money. And they're interested in their own financial interests. And so, when they weigh in on something like repealing Glass-Steagall, they have money to advertise. They have money to persuade. They have money to get grass roots support. It became, kind of, a circus in the sense that this was not thoughtful. This wasn't a bunch of people in a room with the best minds in the country thinking what might be the consequences of doing this? If we really thought through what the consequences might be, having gone through a Great Depression once as a result of banks fused with risky ventures?

I don't think it ever became a moment in which really good people sat down and evaluated what are the consequences of this. And one of the reasons for it is the green lights that were signaling at these intersections from the President, Secretary of the Treasury. Key people in Congress were saying, “Let's do this, let's do this, let's do this, Because it will be good for the country.” And it became a chorus of voices from all sides raise in support of repealing Glass-Steagall because it was old fashioned, no longer needed.

It was necessary to be repealed so that we could be competitive with the European banks. Of course, that was all nonsense. All complete nonsense, but they swallowed it hook, line and sinker. And everybody marched right off a cliff and repealed Glass-Steagall. And here we went, you know, we headed right towards an economic disaster.

BILL MOYERS: It had this fancy name. The Financial Services Modernization Act, but it's real purpose was to kill these banking protections, right?

\BYRON DORGAN: Oh sure. This country's been modernized before by special interests that wanted to get a bigger slice of the pie for themselves. But no matter what they called it here, the Modernization Act, this was the biggest financial interests of the country trying to grab more money for themselves.

They didn't like -- they chafed under regulations. They didn't like regulations. And they were busy creating all kinds of exotic instruments and, you know, credit default swaps, CDOs, I mean, the whole -- the list is endless, and making very big fees, getting unbelievably wealthy doing it, and injuring this country and putting us in the position where we almost saw a complete collapse of the American economy, through the greatest amount of greed, I think, perhaps in the history of the country.

And there's bipartisan responsibility for it. Alan Greenspan bears a significant part of the responsibility, I should say because he sat and watched it all on his hands when he had supervisory responsibility over the investment banks. But the Congress, the president-- what this country did was unthinkable.

BILL MOYERS: As he signed the bill, President Clinton handed the first pen to free market Republican Phil Gramm of Texas, who had worked long and hard to eliminate Glass-Steagall. It was later reported that another pen went to Sandy Weill at Citigroup.

BYRON DORGAN: Somebody ought to track that pen down and destroy it. There's no honor in what that pen did. I think if you were to rank big mistakes in the history of this country, that was one of the bigger ones because it set back this country in a very significant way and caused so much heartbreak and heartache and a near total collapse of the American economy. And it's not surprising what happened when we decided to eliminate the rules and provide a green light to say, do whatever you want to do.

It doesn't -- it just shouldn't have been surprising then, and it's not surprising to me now that we had a whole lot of interests that, you know, made this look like a bunch of hogs at a slop pail, you know, grunting and shoving to see who could get richer quicker. And that was at the expense of the American people.

BILL MOYERS: You said in that speech on the floor that choruses of folks, choirs standing outside the Senate chamber spent their lifetime working to get this done. Who was singing in those choirs?

BYRON DORGAN: Well, it's interesting, you know, it always starts with soloists, but then, that music is joined by a lot of people. And, you know, it was who's who in the financial industry sector saying, “We want all the rules to be gone.” It's very much like what we're hearing today.

I heard it this morning on the radio, the biggest problem in this country they say is regulation. Really? What kind of regulation? They now, you know, all of the mantra with the Republican candidates running for president, we've got to get rid of regulation, got to get rid -- I'm very surprised in the shadow of what happened when we most recently got rid of regulation, I'm very surprised anybody has the willingness to say that publically, and yet they do.

It’s unfathomable to me, Bill, that all of this happened under our noses. So, regulators, members of Congress who were supposed to know what was happening, and who, if they knew, would believe it was okay -- does anybody really, really believe that it is okay for financial institutions in this country to trade tens and tens and tens of trillions of dollars of credit default swaps in which they have no insurable interest on either side, just making wagers, casino wagers?

But, at least in casinos they have bright lights so you can see what they're doing. You know, I mean, these financial institutions at Wall Street, you didn't see any spotlights inside of those institutions, so that all of us could see what was happening.

BILL MOYERS: You warned in that speech that if we took this direction, encouraging, allowing mergers and conglomerations, it would create institutions too big to fail.

BYRON DORGAN: Right. That's exactly what happened. And sadly, even though there were institutions too big to fail that had become bigger since the repeal of Glass-Steagall, now, they're even larger as a result of the bailouts, and we still have a too big to fail doctrine because those big financial institutions -- and by the way, they are still gambling today, it isn't shut down.

So, they are bigger than ever. I tried to pass some legislation in Dodd-Frank that says if you are too big to fail, you're too damn big, and you should be broken up. I tried to pass legislation to say it shall be illegal to have naked credit default swaps. You've got to have an insurable interest. Couldn't get either passed.

BILL MOYERS: You're talking about Dodd-Frank passed after the 2008 crash to try to prevent it from happening again, and you're saying it's too weak to prevent another collapse.

BYRON DORGAN: It is. Yeah, I mean Dodd-Frank passed with my vote because it does some good things and moves in the right direction, but it is timid. It doesn't -- if you were going to address the real causes here, you would decide that too big to fail cannot be tolerated. If you're too big to fail, we need to be slicing away at those enterprises and bring them back down to size. And I hope that Congress will begin doing that at some point.

BILL MOYERS: But you don't expect it will really. Even as we speak, Capitol Hill, over your shoulder there, is swarming with lobbyists from Wall Street trying to weaken further an already weakened bill, right?

BYRON DORGAN: Absolutely. And as you know, very quickly Wall Street was made whole. It's just the folks at the other end of the economic ladder that still bear the consequences of this near collapse.

BILLMOYERS: No matter how we slice the numbers, it's a fact that since 1979, 40 percent of the income growth in this country has gone to one percent of the population. And so, that you can hear it said, that we now have government of the one percent, by the one percent, for the one percent. What do you think about that?

BYRON DORGAN: Well, the interesting thing to me about it is that it's not accidental. I mean, this has happened as a matter of public policy, in some cases, very deliberate policy that creates a tax code that says the wealthier you are, the less you pay in income taxes. And the more income you have as a result of netting out your tax payments.

Whereas on the other side, the lower income you are the higher your burden. Well, that's a deliberate policy that says we're not going to have a fair system at all. We're going to weight it favor of the wealthy. Now, how does that happen? It happens because those who are at the top of the income ladder have enormous clout. They have the ability to hire people and have their will in this debate on public policy. And all the rest of those folks, they don’t have anybody that they’ve hired to say, “Look after my interests.”

And I think history shows that in every country where you have an unbelievable mal-distribution of income, where you have just a few that are very, very, very wealthy, and then, a lot of others who don't have very much, that's not a recipe for having economic growth and opportunity and expansion for all people.

Just, you know, we know what that causes. So, when we see this growing inequality of income, it means our country's headed towards a future in which we won't have the same opportunity generally for the American people that we've experienced in the past.

BILL MOYERS: Senator, I appreciate very much your giving me your time this morning.

BYRON DORGAN: Well, thank you very much, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: It is practically impossible to describe the extent to which our country’s been changed by all this political and financial cronyism. Nonetheless, we’ll be returning to this issue – so critical to our future existence as a democracy -- in the weeks and months ahead. Just as a reminder: let’s take another look at the chart we used in our first broadcast. Jacob Hacker explains:

JACOB HACKER: It says how much did people at different points on the income ladder earn in 1979 and how much did they earn in 2006 after adjusting for inflation?

It exploded at the top. The line for the top one percent, it's hard to fit on the graph because it's so much out of proportion to the increases that occurred among other income groups including people who are just below the top one percent. So, that top one percent saw its real incomes increase by over 250 percent between 1979 and 2006. Yeah. Over 250 percent.

BILL MOYERS: Behind that chart is a deep rot that permeates our system. After you finish Winner Take All Politics read this one, by Peter Schweizer: Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and their Friends Get Rich off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison. Peter Schweizer is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, and he’s just as outraged as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Streeters are at corruption hidden in plain sight. He begins his book quoting the notorious George Washington Plunkitt, who got rich as a New York City party boss at Tammany Hall in the l870s: “There is so much honest graft in this big town that they would be fools to go in for dishonest graft.” Washington today.

Which makes me want you to hear a call left on our answering machine after last week’s show, when we reported on how the influence of Wall Street bankers has played out in the Obama White House. Listen:

CALLER: I do not understand why you did not include the fact that UBS was fined $780 million by this administration. Surely, you do not want to have people vote Republican or for a third party, which will only enable the Republicans to get elected. I am appalled, frankly, at your last segment which did nothing, I don’t think, in fairness to this administration…

BILL MOYERS: We were grateful for the call. We like to hear from all of our viewers. But I’m afraid she misses the point. It’s not our role as journalists to help elect the candidate you like, or defeat the one you don’t like. Our job is to help you see what you may have missed. There’s always more than meets the eye. So keep that in mind throughout this election year. We’ll leave the horserace mostly to others - while we do our best to throw some light on what’s really at stake.

Next week we move on to how conservatives and liberals see the world differently, and why:

JONATHAN HAIDT: When it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but when it gets to the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it's very difficult to compromise. Compromise becomes a dirty word.

BILL MOYERS: Meanwhile, go to our website You’ll see a letter there from Congressman Barney Frank, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee. He responds to some of the things that were said last week about his namesake financial reform bill, Dodd-Frank. New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson who was with me for that discussion, responds on the website.

You also can take a look at our new Money and Politics page. There’s some superb reporting there as well as interactive tools from our colleagues diligently connecting the dots and following the money.

That’s all at See you there and see you here, next time.

Watch By Segment

  • John Reed on Big Banks’ Power and Influence

    Bill Moyers talks with former Citigroup chairman John Reed and former Senator Byron Dorgan to explore how our political and financial class shift economic benefits to the very top.

    Air Date: March 16, 2012
    John Reed on Big Banks’ Power and Influence
  • Byron Dorgan on Making Banks Play by the Rules

    Bill Moyers talks with former Citigroup chairman John Reed and former Senator Byron Dorgan to explore how our political and financial class shift economic benefits to the very top.

    Air Date: March 16. 2012
    Byron Dorgan on Making Banks Play by the Rules

How Big Banks are Rewriting the Rules of our Economy

January 27, 2012

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? Bill Moyers talks with former Citigroup Chairman John Reed and former Senator Byron Dorgan to explore a momentous instance: how the late-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.”

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. Watch it here.

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  • Mark Etprophet

    Are we to believe that John Reed, former chairman of Citigroup, interim CEO of NYSE, and chairman of MIT, was unable to understand the consequences of what he and his cronies were doing? Could he and his corporate cohorts be that foolish or incompetent?

    A cynical person might believe that he didn’t make the mistakes he claims, but knew exactly what he was doing all along, and should be chairman of ATTICA.

  • bystander.again bystander

    Enthusiasm, eh, John Reed.  Makes me think of that quote from the Untouchables spoken by Al Capone; “A man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms.”  And, while you didn’t club anyone to death with a baseball bat – as Capone did in that scene – you assert that the taxpayer was certainly obliged to bail out those “too big to fail” financial institutions to resolve the effects of those “enthusiasms.”  You clubbed the American economy until it went on life support and pocketed $15mil’s worth of enthusiasm in the process.  How convenient for you to be able to point at the quants of MIT with whom you assert can share the blame.

    Mr. Moyer, it was *painful* to watch you appear to allow Mr. Reed to rehabilitate his reputation on your program.  Thank heavens former Senator Dorgan was allowed to follow him.  I am slowly un-clenching my jaw muscles.   That Dorgan is a former senator is enough to make me grieve.

    Your response to the partisan caller complaining that you are making Obama’s reelection difficult was pitch perfect.  You are correct.  It’s not journalism’s role to tilt the field in favor of one political party or the other.   Thank you again, Mr. Moyer, for returning to us.

  • Tom Fulda

    Ok the first three shows have been great. It’s clear that crony capitalism has corrupted the free market and money decides who gets elected. Thank You Citizens United. The rot goes deeper. The legislative agendas  of both the left and right have been corrupted by what will bring in the most contributions to the legislators. Further, what other than nullify Citizens United can ordinary citizens do to regain control of our representative democracy? Republic Lost a recent book by Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law School suggests a widespread citizens mobilization and a new Constitutional Convention as possible solutions. This is a must read and Mr Moyers please invite Professor Lessig to appear on your show.

  • Janis Hansen

    Bill Moyers, you do not disappoint.  Show about Glass Steigel is very enlightening.  Thanks for real news coverage!!  It takes guts and persistence to produce such a program of clarity, and, because of the disheartening information we learn, it takes guts to watch, sometimes.  Thanks anyway1

  • Greg

    Great show Bill.  Thanks.  

  • Sewardthf

    I enjoy your program very much. It never stops amazing me how people can be so taken in by large  sums of money. The current political debates make it seem that everything will be great if  we only repeal all the rules. People will take as much as they can  if there are no laws to stop them.  The canadates are advocating just that. How can we be so blind. I’m only an undereducated citizen, but even I could see the path all this greed was leading us on. Thank you for showcasing some knowledgable people that may wake us up to the corruption and wide spread greed within the government. Heaven help us!  

  • Anonymous

    Some people call it “enthusiasm” and “exuberance.”  I call it “greed.”

  • Katy G.

    Mr. Moyers, I’m so glad you are back on the air! In this time of corporate “cronyism” being the prevalent influence not only in our political and justice system, but in also in our media outlets, you are more important than ever. The issues of Dodd-Frank, Citizens United, and others that allow this kind of greed cancer to invade our democracy should no longer be tolerated by a jaded, ignorant, or just plain apathetic public. And I am overjoyed that you pointed out the same mistakes and cronyism in the Clinton and Obama administrations that were made in the Bush. Not one of those corporate-sponsored Fox “news” pundits could point to you with their “liberal main stream media bias” war chant. Thank you so much for the service you continue to provide to the American public!

  • Ruth Uebel

    I cannot believe that Mr. Reed should  not have seen the consequences of abolishing Glass/Stiegall. Even I – not a financial person at all – saw the dangers. However, on 15 million dollars  (in the 90s!!!) I might have foregone my moral convictions too.
    Ruth Uebel

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Bill for another informative show. It’s with
    guilty pleasure that I watch. I feel we are depriving you of your retirement by
    having to educate us in things that we, as the citizens of the United States,
    should be capable of, and responsible for, finding out on our own. I hope you
    enjoy making the program as much as we do watching.


    As for myself, I will continue to watch and learn, read
    enthusiastically (including your recommendations), and write editorials into my
    local paper (Tampa Bay Times formerly the St.
    Petersburg Times).

  • sadhana

    Dear Bill, In your conversation with Reed, he said that if the banks had not been bailed out there would have been widespread societal damage and calamity. All that the bail out did was keep together a collapsing system with chewing gum and bandaid. It’s not going to hold together. Look at Europe, see what could happen if China were to get away unchecked, look at corruption in India, Mexico. We should have let the banking system come to its knees, that would have ensured that all the culprits at least would have been dealt a body blow, yes, we would have all suffered some more as a consequence BUT it would have been cleansing, it would have leveled us all in one shot. There’s a saying in my language, ‘ninda munuguthe chale laydu.’ which translates into, when you are completely immersed in the water, you stop feeling cold. We would have come out of this better. NO one has paid for this but ordinary folks Bill and that’s the tragedy. Romney would be a tragedy, Obama would be more of the same nonsense, who do we have? Can you run for President?

  • Katy Gerhold

    I think although it was painful to hear Mr Reed’s sometimes too-casual response to the catastrophe he helped orchestrate, it was enlightening to hear his side of it, and made me feel a bit more optimistic to listen to him out-right admit that he was wrong and is currently taking steps to rectify what he helped to break. Mr Moyers guided the interview brilliantly, he has to allow Reed to feel comfortable enough to tell us his side, with a level of honesty and clarity rarely seen by those on his side. Yes, “enthusiasm” may be a euphemism for unfettered greed, but otherwise I think his interview helped me understand a side of that story I couldn’t comprehend at all before.

  • Jenell Scherbel

    You do me and America proud with this new program and I’m sure, if he were alive today, also your old teacher, Dr. DeWitt Reddick, former dean of a newly formed School of Communication at UT Austin. I worked for Dr. Reddick as a young office worker and followed your career over the years.  As a community college teacher in speech communication, I showed students your interviews as examples of the very best in interviewing.  You are still the best!  I am, simply, a fan.

  • Joeokanishi

    Outstanding show tonight!  It should be mandatory viewing by all Americans.   It’s refreshing to hear someone speak freely and honestly rather than listening to all the “experts” who have hidden agendas.

    I’m not sure if your previous shows covered the issue of individual homeowners to  foreign national sovereign  investment holders  filing class action law suits, however, I have yet to  hear of any lawyers representing these groups.  When will the mortgage brokers, bankers, rating agencies, insurance companies, and other financial institutions find themselves in a courtroom without the option to avoid jail.

    I think the reason this economy is taking too long to recover is that the financial industry, despite all its recent profits, can’t move forward.  The financial institutions are stuck with residual junk mortgage loans, junk mortgage backed securities, and the potential criminal liability lawsuits that should add up to trillions of dollars.     

    The financial industry has financially ruined a good portion of a generation, maybe two generations, of Americans

  • Valerie

    I can’t begin to state how thrilled I am to see you back on the air, Bill. I somehow knew you’d return, as the nation is so direly in need of a voice of clarity, reason, and integrity.

    The clip with Reed talking about Clinton being “told what was going to happen” was telling. Dorgan’s prescience in predicting the financial collapse 10 years down the road–exactly when it occurred–was also striking. Most of our elected officials chose to ignore the warning signs then, and it is clear that they still have not learned. Of course, this is unsurprising when they feel beholden to their corporate sponsors and not the people they are meant to serve.

    (I hope some of the like-minded folks here will join the Facebook group United for Economic Justice and Democracy for more discussion!)

  • Mary Bess

    I don’t believe Mr. Reed couldn’t see what was coming.  I do believe he’s right when he asserts that there’s little difference between Wall Street and The Mob.  The former has just succeeded in legalizing criminal behavior through well placed bribes in the form of campaign contributions. Constituents have problems, corporations have cash!.

    I’d like to know who the other members of Congress are who opposed Wall Street’s  repeal of Glass-Steagall.  Were they turned out of office because campaign contributions flowed to their opponents?  Let’s bring them back into public life.  They’re the kind of representatives we need.

  • Hinmahtooyah

    Contrary to Mr Reeds assertion as to the 99% that we the People can not comprehend what happened, the majority of the People understand quite well that we were lied to, used and robbed.

  • Diane Lindsay

    Thank you, again, for another informative show!    Your shows play, I think, such a vital  role in creating the informed electorate we so badly need.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers, welcome back to the airwaves (or cable waves or whatever).  Please don’t embarrass yourself or us by talking about Israel.  You’ve learned what the limits are, now please respect them.  If we wanted to hear about Israel, we’d ask about it.  And, no, it’s not allowed to speculate about exactly what the limits are.  Final boundaries are to be negotiated, some by hurting, others by being hurt.
    Signed, A Friend

  • Anonymous

    We used to bank with Citibank, which was at the time a good bank. Then when they merged and Reed stepped aside, I thought, “this a really stupid idea.” The merger basically put a gambler (unsurance execs are all basically just gamblers) in charge of a good bank, and the man knows nothing about banking. Well, he did ruin Citibank . And then Citibank turned into a mafia style gambling institution, whose execs should all now be in federal prison.

  • Clay

    So GREAT to have Bill Moyers back.  However, even the insider confession of John Reed (former Citigroup Chairman) breaks the first rule of an apology – “never ruin an apology with an excuse” — words like “exuberance” instead of “greed” and phrases like “carried away” instead of “stealing” are at the root of the “self” deception required to do such unconscionable things. All concerned suffer from Pontus Pilate’s disease at a minimum. And for good measure – regarding these gambling financial institutions and their armies of lobbyists – NOTHING HAS CHANGED!
    Ps help/save us Bill. I know you claim to be “only” a journalist – but we need more than that from you before you leave this planet. It’s about integrity and you seem to be one of the very few.

  • Ed Bradley

    Thanks to Bill Moyers and staff. You are to politics, what James Hansen and his team are to the environment; good from my unborn grandchildren provided enough people listen, understand and act.

    In noticed some very familiar words in the linked Economist report on the French election. I’d be interested in your thoughts regarding the global nature of the challenges you’ve depicted thus far in your series. 

  • Joan Mortenson

    I would like to have you interview the authors of  THE SPIRIT LEVEL by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkerson.  It would fit right in with your remarks about inequality.

  • Annie

    “If you all want to do this within the two years we’ll get the law changed.”
    So let’s all do this – should be fun.  Commit a crime – you’ll have 2 years to change the law and be able to apply the new law retroactively.

  • Rwsevers

    Our government is in control of crooks and sadly backed by our congress.  They function through  process of  fraudulant means and should be prosecuted as such.
    Lobbying is out & out bribery and should be outlawed as such and should be confronted with imprisonment.
    And any congressman in reciept of money or favors of
    any such collusion should be held responsible as well.

  • Adam Hummel

    Excellent broadcast and showcase of investigative journalism into the causes and repercussions of the 2008 economic crisis.  It is clearly noted that the financial and banking industries have developed a mindset where there is no sincere concern for how private sector decisions impact the stability of American society.  The interview with John Reed repeatedly reveals that money in politics and special interest lobbying  have negatively distorted the public policy process and, in turn, have set aside the priorities (public investments in education, infrastructure, research and development, etc.) that makes any nation successful.

  • Anonymous

    Amazing.  Bill we missed you.  Great work on Wallstreet.  Can you pl get some republicans to answer why they oppose any controls on business?

    I also like the way how Reed days money has become a biggest driver.

  • Leonard Lucenti

    This program was enlightening as always from Bill Moyers.   He gets it told the way it should be.  As a former worker for Citibank/corp/group, I know firsthand the transformation that took place in 1980 that caused the entire economy to collapse in 2008.  There was a time where we took pride in a job well done at Citibank, and were rewarded with profit sharing, raises and promotions.  That was all abolished for a policy of get the money in no matter the source.   Spurious money became the norm until somebody sneezed before 2008.  Until we return to good wages for the working people, expect all these discussions to go nowhere.  We’ll be talking about the same things twenty years from now.  Thank you Mr. Moyers. 

  • Dennis

    The voice of reason again on PBS.  Its so good to see you again, Bill Moyers. Thank You.  I have missed you.
    Dennis  @ Gering, Nebraska

  • FranG

    And we want the perps in a REAL prison, not a white-collar country club. We want justice. Closure!

  • FranG

    It’s interesting watching the Republican primary saga. Romney’s the capitalist, and Newt’s the crony.

  • RDante

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for returning your unmitigated search for the truth, in all its aspects, to us, your undying public. Through your episodes I am getting more and more to understand the how and why of our country’s problems. It is totally disheartening to know that there is a segment of the worlds’ population that has no interest in improving the general standard of living of their fellow man, but only to steal as much of the available  wealth around them by raping the “lower” classes, perhaps only to move on to another country when the sinking ship is no longer viable and do the same thing there. Actually, I for one, in my lower middle class status, consider myself a much higher class than that clan of unevolved sub-humans whose actions can and should be considered criminal and dealt with accordingly.

  • Leslye

    Why has it taken so long forwhy and how the financial crisis of 2008 happened to be made clear?  I have a masters’ degree in economics and taught business and economics at the university level in the 1990’s and could not understand how we couldn’t see it coming.  I blamed it on our cultural value to living on debt so we could, as the richest country in the world, mindlessly consume. I failed to understand how banks could make so much money and how the colusion of government and Wall Street had made it possible.  Thank you for your recent programs that have explained in clear and understandable discussions how and why we got into the mess.  This is a true public service.  I wish I were still teaching so I could explain  to my students when crony capitalism  destroys capitalism.

  • Coghlanjohnj

    Somebody should mention that Greenspan was a fan of Ayn Rand. A capitalism extremest.

  • Ron Shook

    Hey Fran,  I suggest Guantanamo.  Was there not much more terror and suffering delivered to America by this Great Recession than 9/11?  It has been a far more grinding grief and brutality, 
     spread across the whole nation, rather than one big horrid shock in NYC and Washington, DC.

  • jerome curtis

    My wife and I, are so very glad you are back. Again we feel at least there is someone we can trust to shed light objectfuly and truthfully on a subject.

  • Leonard Lucenti

    If not for my juggling of finances, my kids would be pitching tents in the major cities of the world today.  It wasn’t easy.  Citigroup was once believed to be invincible.  It turned out to be just like many other big corporations that have come begging to our doorsteps.   I never imagined that future taxpayers would be bailing them all out. 

    Thanks go to Mr. Moyers for opening our eyes. 

  • Wcoady

    Keep voting in a system run by big business and you will never bring about change to a corrupt system.  You reap what you sew.

  • martha

    who was the person or persons that crafted the take down of  Glass Steagall…martha in Austin

  • Xavier and Kathy Camps

    Enthralled by today’s show. Talk about narrowing it to a “ground zero” of sorts this show did it. Wow!

    Very, very, enlightening.

  • Marilynsuzanne

    The explanation given by Senator Dorgan has been the most intelligent and understandable explanation of our situation that I have ever heard. Thank you, Bill.

  • MC1660

    This was ABSOLUTELY the most interesting and comprehensive
    description of the financial services meltdown that I have EVER heard/seen.
    Thank you!!

  • Chris

    What would it take to re-enact the “Glass–Steagall Act”  & repeal the “Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act?”

  • Connie

    We are so pleased to finally have Bill Moyers back on the air again.  This series on the financial disaster in America is so compelling.  It should be “must see” for all Americans.  Thank you Bill.

  • Anonymous

    First, thanks to John Reed for his willingness to come forward and speak about this problem from an insider’s perspective. That’s got to have cost him a few old friendships, even if those friends belong to an un-merry band of legally-sanctioned thieves.

    Here’s what jumps out at me during Bill’s interview with John. (1) When speaking about “the government,” he air-draws quotation marks. Sometimes, our gestures reveal more about our true feelings than do our words. I would ask that he honestly reflect on what it might mean when he air-draws quotation marks around “the government” while being interviewed. (2) The following comment disturbs me greatly: “We’ll get the law changed.” So whenever powerful industry interests want to undo reasonable regulations that are intentionally there to protect US citizens and our national security, industries with powerful lobbying efforts on their side simply “get the law changed.” My question for John is, tell me why I should take the time and effort to carefully approach my civic duty to vote in every election, and to spend what I consider to be a fair amount of time, communicating responsibly with my US representative and senators, when people in positions of power, such as yourself, simply “get the law changed”? I do not intend for that to be rhetorical. I honestly would like to hear your response.

    I agree completely with John’s comment about the ignorance of lawmakers on the issues they make decisions about, issues about finance and banking in this case, which so powerfully affect US economics. And yes, I fully understand why these lawmakers rely on outside “experts” to inform their decisions. I do not, however, understand or accept these lawmakers’ decisions to rely solely on industry lobbyists as their informant sources. We saw that sole-reliance on corporate lobbyists during the run-up to the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in a piece of legislation that NO ONE likes, that doesn’t reform anything, and that only provides minimal insurance regulations that should have been in place all along, and that the insurance industry is now lobbying to undo.

    Golly gee, is John’s admission that “we got carried away” an understatement of epic proportions! No industry should ever be given enough rein to be in a position to make that statement in hindsight. If the 99% movement has only one success, I hope it is that one.

    And finally, John Reed strongly exemplifies how those on the inside of a situation are the most ignorant of what is going on. Therefore, they should NEVER be the ones who tell the rest of us how “the government” should be involved in their shenanigans. Reminds me how so many repubs today seem to be sheltered “inside the bubble,” as comedians like Maher and Stewart call it. The reasons they despise Obama to an extent that makes them feel justified in being so completely disrespectful of the office of the US presidency, are completely fabricated, and they don’t seem willing to do any thinking, reading, studying outside of right-wing media that might allow some fresh air and light into that bubble.

    Sen. Dorgan, thank-you for speaking up at the get-go about the deregulation that led us into this economic maelstrom. Wish there had been more of you. However, things are what they are today, and now we have to figure out how to move forward from this economically disastrous place, ignoring the calls for ridiculous ideas that historically do not work, like “austerity measures.” Sadly, Obama still feels like he has to bargain with these bubble-heads. That’s got to stop.

    Good show, Team Moyers!

  • Esangelfire

    Personally, I believe this government needs a wakeup call.  I wonder what would happen if NONE of us did our taxes this year?  Would make for an interesting April, wouldn’t it?  Send them a copy of the Constitution instead. Surely even this country doesn’t have enough prisons to hold us all!  

  • Anonymous

    Your show returns at a most critical time when Americans need some critical information and some critical thinking. This is probably not a coincidence on your part, so I thank you for, once again, stepping into the arena.

    Your first three shows have been rock solid and FULL of important information. I will recommend you to as many people as I can. I must now go back and review the first two shows. Thank you.

  • Annienomad

    Thank goodness for Bill Moyer and everyone who keeps the light on these facts and the conversation going!

    *Everybody* needs a wake-up call – from left to right, from top to bottom. 

    The guiding principle of any government, culture or class system should NOT be “every man for himself”.

    This is for everyone who thinks we can still turn this boat around…an Occupy Webcam video… 

  • sharee anne gorman

    Thank goodness for Bill Moyer and everyone who keeps the light on these facts and the conversation going!

    *Everybody* needs a wake-up call – from left to right, from top to bottom. 

    The guiding principle of any government, culture or class system should NOT be “every man for himself”.

    This is for everyone who thinks we can still turn this boat around…an Occupy Webcam video… 

  • A 99 percenter

    Please send this program video to the White House.
    Pronto!  Before it’s too late to wake up Congress.
    Any former Fed appointee needs to be shown the door.   

  • Barbara Studley

    Same here.  This was a most informative program.  The public needs to be educated in order to use their voting right effectively.  Keep it coming.

  • Gary Peer

    Finally and hopefully not too late,  two intelligent, coherent accounts of the real story behind our economy’s near collapse .  Particularly appreciated in both interviews, Reed’s and Dorgan’s) is the straight forward portrayal of how both parties, Democrat and Republican, have literally sold their souls to the devil by either wittingly or unwittingly repealing Glass-Steagall, thereby opening the door for a plethora of inappropriate, unethical and fraudulent practices in the financial sector of our economy.

    Would be great fun (and perhaps profoundly enlightening) to see a debate on PBS between two or three representatives of each political party , moderated by Bill Moyer, focused solely on two questions:  (1) Do you agree or disagree with any of Mr. Reed’s or Mr. Dorgan’s substantive points, and if you disagree, what is the factual basis of your disagreement?, and (2)  Neither Reed nor Dorgan cast the blame for our economic melt-down on any specific individual or political party.  They do, however, argue that political leadership in this country at multiple levels, most importantly Congress, Cabinet and President, are for sale to the wealthiest interests among us.  Do you believe this is true, and if not, why not, and if so, what should be done about it?

  • Russell Starling

    Thanks, Mr. Bill Moyers for these two very interesting Interviews! U R the Best!

  • Russell Starling

    Yes, so True! Big Brother needs to Watch “Himself” —The Wolves Are Guarding the Henhouse!  So Sad!!!

  • Russell Starling 99%

    A  Few Honest @ law abiding Lawmakers Re-Submitting this Act !  — Any out there? 

  • Solarman Jd

    THANK GOD FOR YOU BILL…I thought you were gone…
    very glad to see you are back…the truth so we can make a truly informed opinion…
    a devout follower SolarManJD

  • June

    Newspapers have printed reports of many firms that spend huge amounts on

    lobbying, but don’t pay federal taxes.

    This is the opposite of taxation without representation.  Lobbyists pay

    to get congress to do what the lobbyists want,

    while the rest of us pay taxes that support the government.  We need a

    law that no company, business, or individual

    can spend more on lobbying than they pay in taxes.  They need to pay

    taxes if they want to be represented.

    Lobbying to me is like bribery – but stopping it would be impossible.

    We need to level the playing field – if you don’t

    pay taxes, you can’t spend on lobbying.  This would also be a great

    help in reducing  our national debt.

  • Jbogle34

    Can it be possible that the children of the Mafia went to “higher learning” schools and are now in control of the banks?

  • Suzana Megles

    I felt like crying after hearing what these two men -Reed and Dorgan revealed on  how the American people were duped by people like Weil, Dugan, Greenspan, and even Pres. Clinton in removing the protection of Glass Steagall and leading us to almost a complete economic breakdown because of money-hungry exploiters – citibank, etc.  While it was said that Pres. Obama was right to bail them out, the heads should have been removed.  They are still raking in huge amounts of money while many people still struggle because of their greed.    

  • R Hogge

    It is unbelievable that so many people were wrong and not apparently interested in what the negative impacts could be.  It wasn’t that these people were dumb– Alan Greenspan, Senator Graham, President Clinton, etc.   It is also unbelievable that it was only a relatively short time since Glass Steagel had been passed and passed for a purpose.  How could all this discussion be forgotten or reasoned away? 

  • Jafsaq

    Bill Moyers  program is a breath of fresh air,he was badly missed.Todays program on banks and interviews with Mr Reed and senator Dorgan were eye opening.

  • R Weingarten

    Byron Morgan made an interesting comment about how the Republican presidential candidates are calling for more deregulation of financial and other institutions. It would be helpful to show how the presidential debate reflects the interests of Wall Street and the big banks.  There would be a populist backlash to these revelations and force President Obama and Congressional Democrats, including those running for office, to get on the side of the people or face the consequences. 

    Richard Weingarten

  • Genkakukigen

    I just watched the interview with John Reed and, as one who feels that less-than-polite civil disobedience is in the offing, I wanted to express my gratitude to Bill Moyers and his cogent (dare I use the word?) morality. To find a program that looks into the causes not only of our national discontent but also of what may become a bloody disintegration is useful, if not entirely heartening. How tiring it has become to see those who insist on wearing American flag lapel pins shredding the consonance of a nation that seems to have lost its sense of modesty and thoughtfulness.

    Thank you Bill Moyers and company.

    adam fisher
    northampton, mass.

  • Maryannpreston

    This program was the best so far on this topic. I am not so sure that I believe that those on Wall St and Allan Greenspan and others involved didn’t know what a dangerous thing they were doing. Another thing is why are they still making money the same way instead of being BEHIND BARS !!!!!!!!!

  • Bthompson310

    This show is absolutely unbelievably well done. Fabulous work!

  • Wendy Alison Nora

    Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur has presented the bill to reinstate Glass-Steagall.   I do not know what the bill’s status is at this time. I think it is stuck in “committee.”

  • Swickman171

    Senator Dorgan made a remark to the effect that the 99% doesn’t have any lobby agency in Congress. I am shocked to hear that from an official who was elected by the public to represent them in governmental matters.

    Is it true that he predicted 10 years ago that there would be a catastrophic melt down in our financial affairs? Where was the hue and cry? Why was  there no effort to instruct the electorate?

    I myself saw some danger in the fact that mortgages were offered with no money down and there was no income requirement to qualify for a mortgage.

  • Swickman171

    Why hasn’t Congress appointed a non-partisan commission for the purpose of instructing senators and representatives on the long term affect on the public treasury of the tax laws and financial enactments before them?  Has every member elected to Congress lost his mind when it comes to accepting the word of the lobbyists???

  • Wendy Alison Nora

    I have had the same thought!  And, what is really scarey is that if you call yourself a bank, rather than a loan shark, you are able to get most judges to reward you with the borrowers’ property in exchange for forgery, perjury and fraud.

  • Wendy Alison Nora

    From your lips to God’s ears!

  • Steve Pecchio

    Mr Moyers and Company   Thank you for your hard work,excellent journalism , and your commitment to truth telling these days ,in this America. Sirs we need You, more than ever, Thanks again .

  • Wendy Alison Nora

    John S. Reed seems to have been quite naive.  There are people who are so ethical themselves that they cannot imagine the evil that lurks in the hearts of others.  But  when confronted with those to whom becoming rich is the primary goal of their lives, a wise person would examine the company s/he keeps and take more deliberate steps to counteract the ill effects of the dysfunctional association. 

  • Steve Pecchio

    Your are so right, these are unconscionable,greedy people, who it seems dont even know the shame of their wickedness.  Godless.

  • FMS

    Great programs.  Welcome back, Bill Moyers. 
    I share some of the skepticism/cynicism about John Reed’s conversion to sanity and decency — but the fact remains that he is now speaking the truth about what happened, calling things by their rightful names, and making rational proposals (e.g. restoring Glass-Steagall) — all from the informed perspective of a repentant insider. 
    As for Byron Dorgan, I have to ask myself, Why, oh why did this principled, insightful man — who was a voice crying in the wilderness — leave politics?  We need him in a decision-making position of power.  OK, it would probably be folly for him to run for president, but why can’t Obama put him in a leadership position in his administration?
    Oh, wait, I forgot — he isn’t part of the campaign-financing power structure that put Obama in power in the first place.  Silly me. 
    So here we are, still screwed every which way and sideways — but at least better informed!  

  • Ray Keeling

    I just completed my first view of your show and am most grateful at your willingness and skill in presenting vital information the the politicians and the media ignore.  Your action is vital to the survival of our country!

  • Anonymous

     Many thanks for taking the time to interview Mr. Reed. Very enlightening and most interesting to see someone responsible for the collapse ACTUALLY accept responsibility for wrong doing.

  • Outraged in Calistoga

    It would be wonderful if all occupy groups had access to a giant screen and DVD of this broadcast on a constant loop for the media to take note. More people might hear the message
    and make their outrage known.
    Thank you, Bill Moyers.

  • Just Sayin

    Clear, concise & informative reporting.
    Every American should see this video to further understand the implications the few forced onto the masses and the tragic results it created! A incredibly honest depiction of the events, those responsible for and the economic carnage their actions caused to the very fabric of his Country.  We will never look at this Country through the same eyes again!  It is indefensable as economic sound principles were abandoned for the sake of a bigger pot.  A law stood for 70 years that prevented /protected us from ourselves and we ignored it for the sake of greed.
    If Wall Street prevails in their quest fo more power and dominance and unless your one of them, might as well just burn your wealth because it is targeted by them to end up in their pocket while you foot the bill once again for their indescretions.  Why these greed mongers haven’t been stripped of their ill gotten earnings and sent to prison for the rest of their lives will be one of the greatest mysteries of our time.  Maybe it is true!  Government is in Wall Streets pocket…………………

    Keep it up Bill.  Very enlightening and refreshing reporting….

  • SparkyJP

    Bill would definitely have my vote; but FYI –
    Rocky Anderson just threw in for president. Here’s a link w/his platform:


  • J.P. Frogbottom

    It was in early March 2008 when I, nothing but a high school educated worker saw the Investment Banking industry wasn’t watching the quality of mortgages it was buying.
         I then moved my modest 401K into Bonds & Treasuries (I ended up making a modest 3.3% for that year).  I missed the melt down, thankfully.  If this fool could see what was happening, where were the experts??

    I have just retired.  Am I worried?  Sure, but where are my elected representatives in this? Blissfully ignorant, and trying to get re-elected.  What a country!!  Too bad we are going belly-up.

  • Anonymous

    to watch John Reed dance with “words” and disavow ownership due to “we went overboard”excuse, and i detect, has not an iota of guilt or onwership for his part or his cohorts part in this Theft. no shame whatsosever. 

    and carries on with the “either/or” mentality. like we couldn’t nationalize the Banks like Sweden did or disavow their debt like Iceland. Give us the Money or the Banks Get I!!!
    Giving in to the Thieves was the only “option” when the SHTF. Great staying on theme and avoiding opening the door to various other options.  Good “control” of the “ooops, we Effed Up”, we didn’t mean to.

    also no connect with the people who lost jobs, houses, and the direct human impact of their thievery.  John Reed carefully avoid any connection to the “human” costs as well.

    a Master of Lying through his teeth. the “dazzle them with diligence” of a conman out for marks.John Reed is a rare glimpse into the Elites. They are very good at what they do.

  • Niall

    Another great show!

    John Reed gives some pretty strong
    credibility to the idea that there can never be totally unfettered
    free markets because of that whole “human nature” thing being
    involved with it. If rules, laws, regulations are so wrong for free
    markets (as preached from our mostly Republican, and joining the
    chorus, Dem’s in need of corporate donations), why stop there? Aren’t
    there 10 Commandments that are getting in the way, International
    Criminal Court, Geneva Conventions that are not REALLY needed. If
    your argument is that “markets know best” (and markets are
    managed by human beings), then lets release the reigns on everything,
    because “humans know best”.

    Reinstate Glass-Steagall!

    The FDIC may as well be, the Future
    Depression Insolvency Creation — cause it ain’t gonna do no good.

    Senator Dorgan, the lone

  • RonL

    Thank you for returning to PBS and helping to inform us about the threats to our security that are greater than those we have chosen to war against.  Perhaps the biggest terrorist threat we face as a nation is our own Congress.  As Walt Kelly’s words once voiced by Pogo states, “We have met the enemy and they are us.”
    Whatever happened to Congressional hearings that were supposed to explore with experts the consequences of the legislative proposals before it.  Are  the elected members all too dumb to know what they don’t know?
    Keep up your good and essential work on our nation’s and our individual behalf.

  • RonL

    PS:  Have Elizabeth Warren to explain why she had no support for her nomination to the consumers’ protection agency.

  • not a fan of politicians

    Long term Capital Management – I think that John conveniently overlooked that crisis when he insisted that they knew of nothing wrong with the “math people” running the show. After all LTCM blew up in 1998 and Glass-Steagall  was repealed in 1999. LTCM was run by the supposed best and brightest that had worked out the risks to the nth degree using…. wait for it…. Math and yet more of the same on a much larger scale was just about to be sanctioned.
    I also take exception to the idea that “it would have happened anyway” without the repeal wallstreet would not have been out seeking mortgages to securitize rather that what had traditionally been the other way around. Just a slight bit more truth with a few more fact-less statements.  After all we all “know” that it was the Community Reinvestment Act  that caused it all by allowing the unwashed to trick the wealthy into their near demise.
    Combine the whole thing with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 and even an idiot can see the future.

    We have not done anything to fix any of it and likely are on the precipice of yet another major blow out.  Who is it that truly believes that regulations are too strict? The only new law needed besides the reinstatement of G-S and repeal of CFMA2k  is one that states that jail will follow anyone who works on the regulation side and then moves to the regulated side within ten years. That would just about do it.

  • anty fed

    Makes Ron Paul even that much stronger of a candidate. It’s
    clearer now to see what he is up against. The “status quo” is
    terrified of his popularity and he is their biggest nightmare. Sure all the
    focus will be on his foreign policy – which I happen to agree with – and
    (gasp!) sound money along with the reinstatement of Glass/Steagall but now we
    understand where the real resistance is coming from and WHY. Excellent series
    Mr. Moyer and I look forward to next week’s episode. Glad you’re back!

  • Indian Jones

    Yes. And Bill just rolls with this nonsense.

    One lie that stood out to me was this avowal, “If you had asked me, under oath, what probability I would have given that you would have gotten the whole group Wall Street participants to get it wrong, so to speak, I would have said zero.” Within a minute he acknowledges he was challenged on this and dismissed it.

    The truth is he wasn’t concerned about the possibility.

  • Norena Addington

    I’m not sure you should give him credit for accepting responsibility.

  • Anonymous

    I liked Mr. Reed’s metaphor of the function of brakes on an
    automobile, because brakes are not only essential for safety, they enable
    articulate negotiation of the road.  The
    argument of many today is that “regulation” robs us of fundamental freedoms;
    yet rules when wisely applied actually help to create an optimal environment for
    freedom and innovation.  The closest
    real-world examples of societies with weak governments in which everyone fends
    for themselves are called “failed states”; and they are not nearly so pleasing nor
    liberating as laissez faire theorists imagine.

    Brakes can also be used incompetently or even maliciously; and
    applied improperly could send you to your death.  So can the accelerator; but that’s an argument
    for doing it right, not doing without.

  • Indian Jones

    “We” couldn’t see it coming? Those who profited surely did and they were getting while the getting was good.

    Capitalism destroys capitalism and much else.

  • Peter B

    How wonderful and necessary to watch and hear intelligent and knowledgeable people speaking at relative length about an important issue.  Welcome back, Bill Moyers!

  • William

    In Nov of 2012, be SURE to reelect the incumbent IDIOTS in the US Congress who REFUSED to reinstate the Glass-Steagall firewall between commercial banks and investment banking.  Dodd/Frank was 10% of what it should have been.
    You get the government for which you vote.

  • Swickman171

    Why hasn’t Congress appointed a non-partisan commission for the purpose of instructing senators and representatives on the long term affect on the public treasury of the tax laws and financial enactments before them?  Has every member elected to Congress lost his mind when it comes to accepting the word of the lobbyists???

  • Swickman171

    Why hasn’t Congress appointed a non-partisan commission for the purpose of instructing senators and representatives on the long term affect on the public treasury of the tax laws and financial enactments before them?  Has every member elected to Congress lost his mind when it comes to accepting the word of the lobbyists???

  • S2rosenberg

    fabulous show. The day AIG got “bailed” out, the famous counterparties got the “STAYING IN BUSINESS” signs up. The concept of public losses and private profits rubber stamped for a future of the same old, same old from these banks. I like the tie in with elected officials and people like Dorgan. Sad commentary.

    Currently banks deploy high frequency algorithmic trading schemes. Traders, brokers and investors suffer from the flickering quoatiations, constant cancellations, unnaturally displayed volumes in obcsure market centers and sponsored makret access. These banks have moved back into their bread and butter trading Ponzi’s are all over again. They do not like Volcker, but their star employees and ideas just become customers of the scheme. That Flash Crash was kind of a wake up. Just like real esate these people can not help themselves.

  • Swickman171

    When persons elected to Congress wonder where the lobbyists for the people are, we are cursed. THE PERSONS ELECTED TO CONGRESS ARE OUR LOBBYISTS. For them to expect that the lobbyists for private interests are unbiased scholars offering intelligence on the different issues makes them moronic. For them to expect that the providers of their family vacations and junkets to foreign shores makes them idiotic. We are insane to think that re-electing individuals to solve our problems is the right thing to do. Doing the same thing repeatedly hoping for a different result is described as insanity. 

    I have voted my ballot without choosing any candidate because there was no reason to believe any of them was capable.  We need a means to discover those who want to serve the people.  Congress must use non-partisan scholars to assist it in deciding issues beyond their “poor power to add or detract.”

  • Suzana Megles

    If only we could know who are the good people!  Tell me who to vote for in 2012!

  • Nzgrrj

    And they are moving into other sectors as well.  Commodity trading on food is no longer the domain of farmers, elevators, transporters and mills.  Those markets too are pushed and pulled by speculation and manipulation more powerful than weather, yield forecasts and market.  Just wait until they blow that market up and kill some of the major food producers in the process.

  • Johnson Smith

    Why can’t we start ( along with Occupy Movement) to ask the U.S. Congress to reinstate Glass-Steagall as an emergency measure?

  • Ellie

    Great show!  Could public broadcasting put this show on another time so we could also watch Masterpiece Theatre?  My mom has missed Bill Moyers’ new show two weeks in a row now because she is so into Downton Abbey.  Otherwise she’d be all over Bill Moyers & Company.  He is our favorite!

  • AnneLBS

    Hi Ellie,

    Try watching the show from our site, but know you’ll be watching as early or earlier than anyone watching on TV. We make it available on Friday evenings. Good luck and thanks for watching!

  • Anonymous

    We’ve never learned greed and fear are two of our biggest short falls. 
    It takes super human intelligence, humility and honesty to control these demons in every one of us!Captain Ross AimerUAL Ret.

  • Cmrx

    I wrote to Congress and the president asking for each of the 541 members to send me $277.26  to reimbursed for my direct financial loss taken this past October, when Congress once again failed to adhere to the sound advice of economists, world leaders, and the people. Congress knew specifically of the S&P downgrade that would follow and cause  yet another major loss for us. This one was clear, blatent and fast…no question about the result. 

    Has anyone noticed American has nothing to do with “for the people by the people?”

  • Cmrx1234

    All the talk in the world matters not. Power is power and it is not in the hands of the commoners…never was…so why are we surprised?  You see, those in power are the ones who finally got it…they realized they can make huge moves, gain expansive extraordinary wealth…and there is n o t h i n g the common people or the rest of the world can do about it. It is easy…it just took them awhile to get the really big picture.

  • Cmrx1234

    Its the basic rule. Over leverage…collapse.

  • Cmrx1234

    And I want to be reimbursed… $277.26 from each of the 541 members for my last (October) direct financial loss….no secrect what would happen on that one…and it did.

  • Cmrx1234

    ABSOLUTLY!!!! but then again…power is power…and it is not in the hands of the commoner…so what if we know…can you make it change?

  • Cmrx1234

    Doesn’t that torque ya? Hahahahah!!!

  • Cmrx1234

    The point is they did know…know how much expansive wealth would end up in their pockets…THAT is why they did it.

  • Cmrx1234

    Download the show from the internet. Watch it anytime you like!! And…send a link to all your friends!

  • Cmrx1234

    Ask? Some have already done that. Why would they reinstate it? They are still using the same techniques and still raking in $…why would they want to stop?

  • Cmrx1234

    When shown how to get lots of money…with no personal consequences…

    Did you keep the extra $1 that came back in change from the cashier? We all have at one time or another…no difference.

  • Cmrx1234

    Not really very good at what they do…the commoners can see and hear right through it all…we just don’t have the power…they do

  • Cmrx1234

    On the government side…Robert Rubin D-Secretary of Treasury, Alan Greenspan Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Neil Graham R-Senator from Texas.

    Citi Corp and Travelers Group merged with the promise from those named above that Glass Steagall would be repealed.

    Rhoades scholar,  President Clinton signed off on it

  • Cmrx1234

    Now…if Mr. Reed would take action to get each Congress member to reimburse me $277.26 for the direct financial loss I sustained…(what was yours? we could ask him to work to get you reimbursed as well)…now…that would be actually taking and doing something to take responsibility. Talk is cheap.

  • Mannstein

    These Bankers make money the old fashioned way. They steal it.

  • Cmrx1234

    oops…Phill Gramm R-Texas
    sponsored the repeal of Glass-SteagallAct –

    called the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (1999) 
    (co-sponsors were Jim Leach R- Iowa and Thomas J. Bliley R-Virginia

  • Per Kurowski

    John Reed (17:40 to 18:15) says “It does not take a genius to see what happened … the presumption that you can capture risk by looking at historical volatility… As soon as you say something appears not to be risky you get an overinvestment in it because the capital requirements are less and the is something does go wrong the hurt is all the more because you do not have the capital to take that risk”

    But capital requirements for banks based on perceived
    risk is still the fundamental pillar of Basel bank regulations and no one is yet even questioning that what does not take a genius to see is loony.

    Stop the crazy nannies! Occupy Basel!

  • Stephen S

    So what do we do now? The same people are running the game,and making the rules. vote Ron Paul

  • Demosthenes

    Excellent show. Informative and entertaining. I thank you for putting this information into such a concise and consumable format. I might also add, that I love the lack of political polarization and hyperbole. 

    Many blame Wall Street, many more Washington, and some few of us place an equal portion of responsibility on the media’s plate. You sir, are what other journalists  should aspire to, and our country would be far better off if there were more with your insight and wisdom standing sentinel.

  • Margaret Chapman

    Thank you so much for an understandable, enlightening and clear way to understand the financial mess and how it happened.

  • lgfromillinois

    A thank you to Bill Moyers for exposing the unresolved problems in our bloated banking system.  We need to tell our politicians to ignore the big bank money and do what is right and necessary; break them up, strip the non-commercial banking enterprises away, the essence of the lamented Glass-Steagel.

  • Stukin

    This program ranks as one of the best in the history of television.  It puts everything into clear focus.

  • Daniel Pfeiffer

    Moyers & Company was must-see television for me from the start, and especially now, after having watched the third part of the current series.  Yes, I have read and heard, piecemeal, about how we arrived at our destination (and continue going downhill), but for one who has not invested in the many fine books on the subject, this program has been essential.  I’m hard pressed to find another singular spot on the web/dial that connects the dots with such clarity and delivers the facts so plainly.

    With respect to the willful neglect of the majority by our institutions, I hope that this program will serve to as a wake up call to a nation in dire need of a good education.  We have been shamefully sold out by a congress that is utterly devoid of a moral compass.  It is past time to demand a wholesale change in our leadership, one that worships not at the alter of the almighty dollar, but one that is committed to the well being of the majority.

    Throw Them All Out (up next week)?  Sounds better with each passing day.  Sending the bulk of these cronies home in a single day of voting might just snap their attention back to its proper focus – We The People – and bring them down to Earth with the rest of us.  We can accept nothing less than their heads hanging is shame on their way out the door.

  • Daniel Pfeiffer

    Right on.  I respect Reed for speaking the truth at a time when so many on the world stage refuse to even recognize it, but there still existed in his remarks  posturing and disconnect that exposes the reality that he cannot understand the suffering his actions have wrought.

    Lastly, I agree that it is a tragedy that a Senator Dorgan doesn’t exist today.  What a difference a decade makes.

  • Daniel Pfeiffer

    As a former FL resident, you’re one of the lucky ones to have the (now) Tampa Bay Times in your neighborhood.  It’s one of the better papers in the country.  (I hope you agree.)  Now Florida, the state?…

  • Anonymous

    Please send this to whomever you feel most diametrically oposite to your opinion about the financial crisis and follow up with them to get their response.  As many people as possible need to see this program

  • Sppny

    We keep referring to Tarp as a bailout, but would it not be more accurate to call it a loan to financial institutions and other large manufacturers like Auto companies?  Some of the largest institutions have already re-paid these funds to the Govt. with interest (8%??).  For other institutions,, the Gov’t obtained stock and bonds which they have cashed in at a substantial profit.  Perhaps their incentive for repayment is to get the Gov’t off their boards of directors.  I  never hear about these repayments, but in 2010, according to the NY Times, Treasury officials expected the total “bailout” to cost the Gov’t $50 Billion-not the $700 billion that was proposed in the original bill
         I wonder just how much money this TARP program actually cost the Gov’t.  I also wonder if the Gov’t will eventually make a profit on this “bailout-loan” program.  Besides averting an economic meltdown and the destruction of our auto industry, the TARP program might just prove to be a savy financial deal for the taxpayers

  • Anonymous

    While I appreciate Mr. Reed admiting that they made a mistake I find it appalling that he insists that he wasn’t aware of the concerns being brought up by people like Mr. Dorgan.The fact is that he didn’t need anyone to tell him what was wrong with what they were doing. Does he expect anyone to beleive that with all his education in finance and economics that he never learned anything about the causes of the Great Depression and Glass-Stiegel? The way he admitted that what they did was wrong reminded me of Robert MacNamara finally admitting that the Vietnam War was wrong.

    Those guys didn’t get it wrong. They got it exactly right as far as their self interests were concerned. If he really feels any guilt about it and sincerely believes that the banks have unfair advantage over our political system how about he write a nice big check to help out Occupy Wall Street?

    I didn’t think so.

    Mr. Dorgan suggested that “they hunt down that pen” that they used to repeal Glass-Stiegel. How about they hunt down all the bankers and government officials who not only pushed through the repeal, but since then have continued to collude and refuse to prosecute the criminals that have destroyed the economy and ruined millions of peoples lives and throw them all in jail?

    I didn’t think so about that either.

    How can anybody watch your programs and not run out and join, like I have, the Occupy Wall Street Movement? The least they can do is write them a check.

    I know I will.  

  • KevB21

    Can anyone tell me if there is a way to purchase these shows or maybe download them??

  • Robin

    Thank you Clay…. WELL SAID .. ALL OF IT !

  • Marc P

    I watched an Alex Jones documentary called ‘Fall of the Republic’ several years ago and thought he was a crazy conspiracy theorist when he had on all these Wall Street insiders discussing the dismantling of Glass-Steagall and how it would destroy the economy and how they knew they would have to position themselves for a bailout way ahead of 2008. 

    Now I see why the Establishment calls Alex Jones a ‘kook’ and a ‘conspiracy theorist’. They do that to discredit him so nobody takes him seriously. 4 years later, everything John Reed discusses in this video proves Alex was right.  

  • David Eddy

    It is a dirty rotten shame that the this top heavy situation has happened.  If the Fat Cats do not reverse that situation, the demand side of economics will collapse, then the supply side of  economics will collapse and our Nation’s base will crumble and the Fat Cats will do a free fall from the top and have no where to hide.  
    By the way Golden Parachutes are heavier than air and will crush any one when they hit the ground.
    Just saying!  

  • Cathy

    Bill M: How did this happen?
    John R: We got carried away

    That may be the understatement of the century.  John Reed is now at MIT.  Seriously?  Isn’t that the school that produced the poker players in “Bringing Down the House”?

    Proper protections and rules were thrown out the window, and the people who are most responsible for the chaos are still in positions of power.  What a joke.  Are either Obama or Romney likely to truly fix the mess?  Obama could have and he hasn’t.  Romney?  I don’t hear him talking about proper financial regulation.  We are still in real trouble.  Are enough Americans aware?  Doesn’t look that way.

  • Curt

    I think it’s too late for a wake-up call.  I hope most of them receive eviction notices in November.

  • T M

    Great site!!!!  Spent the better part of the day watching,
    learning, and thinking.  “Chi” for the mind.
    Thank you.

  • Rick

    One of the most informative and  brave assessments of the perils within the US  financial market machine. My one question is what percentage of the the US GDP is now derived by this industries financial intrumentation,ie derivetives etc. that would make legistation to govern exposure risk a blow to the US credit markets. Some reports put this figure in the 40 percentile. Would a curb on these intruments make the greater picture of US productivity harder to finance its bond market. This reliance on financial risk seems a snake eating its own tail.  

  • Blueswift

    Doesn’t Government by Wall Street, for Wall Street amount to the rest of us not being represented?

    Isn’t that taxation without representation?

  • Clifford Terry

    A very telling mea maxima culpa from John Reed.  Small wonder he was push out of CitiGroup, he has a conscience.  He deserves a lot of respect for coming clean on his small part in this debacle, there have been others who have refused to accept responsibility for their actions.  Kudos to Bill Moyers for coming out of retirement to bring us this new show.

  • the buckaroo

    …I have visions of billboards popping up across the land this election season. The phrase “Four Horsemen of the…” with pics of Dick (a name earned & not given) Armey & buddies. The under theme states…”Reapers of your home”.

  • Mark G. Stevens


    Thanks for the most succinct exposition on this debacle I’ve seen anywhere. Glad you stayed in the game.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. Rep Kaptur’s bill was introduced in April 2011 as H.R.1489 — Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011.  The last action was: “Referred to the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises” in 2011.
    It has/ had 57 co-sponsors, only one of whom is from my state of Washington: Jim McDermott.
    Apparently, too many fellow representatives, and senators must oppose a return to a Glass-Steagall’s (1933)  wall between depository/commercial banks (small loans, checking and savings accounts) and financial/ investment banks (large commercial loans, investment loans and actual investment products).
    Since the repeal of Glass-Steagall, many banks have changed from “savings and loans” to “banks” and have merged with insurance and financial services companies nationwide. Therefore, there’s now a huge constituency of large banking houses that had not existed since 1933 when Glass-Steagall enactment. That law, ended the repeated bank failures and closures of the 1800s up to 1933. Until Glass-Steagall, the investment gambling of the financial side of banks routinely drove banks into failure.  
    The long history of banking “panics” and closings based on lack of adequate reserves, reckless investment and investment using borrowed money, was the reason the FDIC was strengthened then, and why many of our parents and grandparents spread their meager savings among several different banks just to protect their money from the well-known recklessness of financial bankers’ risky investments.
    Seems the difference is that in the 1930s, there were still enough voting districts that were not gerrymandered to produce “safe” districts in which party loyalists become candidates…so we voters had a chance to vote for moderates that now rarely survive each party’s primary process.
    Too much money, too few voters who pay attention and who instead vote based on simplistic ads that money buys, and too few good men and women able to become candidates for lack money needed to get the attention of voters.
    I will email my representative and senators, again, to reinstate the wall that was Glass-Steagall 2, and I hope I won’t be alone in doing so.

  • Chris

    I too will contact my representatives & senators to support this. Thanks for sharing the news.

  • Cynthia

    What can we do?  How do we de-thrown the 1%?
    Not voting isn’t an answer.

    Yes, good show, Team Moyers!

  • Berlin

    I’ve been watching Moyers and Co. since the first episode featuring Hacker and Pierson and I’ve been struck by many things as I’ve continued to view each new program. The fact that this news show is centering the journalism around the work of political scientists is refreshing and something I’ve been secretly wishing for for years. I’m an anthropologist who teaches and studies American power, and although political scientists and anthropologists differ in some ways, we do not differ in our focus on how power — as it is created and reinforced — directly affects the lives of people all over the world.

    The empirical data amassed in Hacker and Pierson’s work are staggering, but so integral to a successful scientific argument. And their argument is quite successful at tracking down the cultural, historical and political threads that have woven the financial climate we see around us in America today. The fact that this show is taking this long-form information, that is generally either ignored or reduced to meaninglessness in political and media circles, to heart, reporting it and then using it as the basis for further investigation is powerful and I hope it will continue — on Moyers and Co. and beyond.

    One area where, as an anthropologist, I see a bit of slippage on the show and in the book that might be useful for further insight is the importance of power structure. Hacker and Pierson argue well that the American tug-o’-war between our Democracy which makes us equal and gives us the same rights and our economic system (capitalism) which makes us unequal is out of balance with inequality (capitalism) winning out over equality in America. The question of why this is so has been voiced on the show and my take is that the inequality side has more than simply capitalism on its side.

    The basic power structure (not government structure) in America is stratified not egalitarian. Our basic power strucure is such that some people have more power than others in any given situation or encounter.  Like all power structures our stratigraphy is pervasive throughout our culture (institutions, education, medicine, entertainment, gender roles, family units, economic system, etc.) and this only reinforces an acceptance — perhaps sometimes only grudging — that some people are supposed to, have a right to, benefit more by being on top than those on the bottom or in the middle. The status quo in America supports this and we all as Americans, even if we don’t want to do so, help to reinforce this in subtle and overt ways.

    So the power behind the inequality in this country — what has been a part of the inequality in our economy — is broadly supported by our basic power structure. If we look at the economic crisis in light of this I think more will be revealed about how and why it occurred and, also, how we can better balance it so it has less of a chance of occurring again with the same devastating severity.

    Like Hacker and Pierson I’m a scientist who studies culture and, as a result, I know that culture changes. Sometimes these changes are driven by unforseen circumstances, or chance encounters between peoples in different cultures, and sometimes, change is driven by those within a culture. It is possible for us to remake America in the image of a culture that balances stratigraphy with Democracy. What we have now is not created and recreated by natural forces beyond our control. People created this mess and people can fix it. We just have to be honest about how our culture works, clarify what our values are in relation to our economy, and focus on what matters when it comes to democracy — how government policy is wielded and by whom.

  • Berlin

    I did want to also briefly comment on Bill Moyers’ response this week to the caller who left a voicemail.  Moyers’ argument — one with which I strongly agree — that the show is about providing information and not supporting, or denouncing, any one candidate is an important one.  As was his point that the show seeks to reveal things viewers might have missed.  However, perhaps Mr. Moyers also missed something since the caller stated that the current administration has been involved in levying fines on banks (a fact) when no mention of this was made by the broadcast.  What was stated was that the current administration had given more money to the banking industry in four years than the previous administration had in eight (also, a fact).

    It’s important to assert a non-partisan political position, if this is a Moyers and Co. goal, but it is also important to own up to the fact that every single news source makes choices about what is, and what is not, reported.  How this is interpreted by an audience is, largely, out of the hands of those making these decisions, but dismissing that this can and will happen — even despite assertions about intentions to the contrary — is irresponsible journalism.  The caller’s point about not reporting some information while reporting something else, and how that omission could be understood, was a good one and, I think, it deserved a bit more attention and thoughtfulness than what Moyers’ response seemed to give it.  How people use the information you report may not be any journalist’s responsibility, but how (and why) one chooses to report most definitely is.

  • Anonymous

    Very insightful. I think it was John Reed who referenced the car and brakes. The car is operated by conscience. The brakes slow it down or stop it to turn around if headed for disaster. When conscience cannot be relied upon regulation components need to be on the vehicle. Many thanks to Mr. Dorgan for his honorable attempts at keeping the car operating safely.

  • louisbecke

    I feel the single biggest contributor to our current political and financial problems is the to put it plainly the propaganda machine that feeds news in a confusion of  lies, divide and conquer, misdirection and finger pointing.

    I know it means taking on FOX NEWS but this has to be done.  Am I nuts? I don’t think so. When throughout my day I hear sound bites and slogans repeated by people that listen to FOX NEWS one wonders especially when they fly in the face of hard facts.

       What would possess people to repeat something so illogical something that with a few click of a mouse button would find it’s a lie? I just don’t know.

  • Ted B – Independent Voter

    Great interview with Senator Byron Dorgan regarding our  collective political forgetfulness of history that led us to repeat it. Should be mandatory viewing on both sides of the aisle; which alas, would lead to both parties blaming each other again – rather than resolving the issues. And so it goes.

  • Pat

    Thank you for providing the details of the collusion between government and banking.  Of all the bits and pieces of information that have emminated since 2008, your research and presentation truly touches the heart of the matter.  Evil and greed are clearly defined.  It needs to be stopped.  What do we do to start the ball rolling against this travesty.  Please continue to provide the serious details that clear the way for truth.

  • Jenkinslauretta

    Wish this program was on Fridays, like it used to be.  WETA has chosen to play Moyers & Company on early Sunday evenings — not so good. BUT thank goodness for the internet and some freedom in watching.  Thanks for putting up this website and including the broadcasts.

  • Suesul

    Thank you for an enlightening show, and great comments.  There is deep anger among us, and well there should be.  I am reminded of  an Alternative Radio Broadcast that had the same effect on me.  What stood out was the reporter’s description of a conversation between Bill Clinton, and Wall Street, (and possibly Alan Greenspan)  The topic was how can Democrats receive the kind of financial support from Wall Street that the Republicans enjoyed at the time.  The answer was the end of Glass Stegall.  

  • Robert

    On July10th, 1832, Andrew Jackson issued a resounding message of his belief in the rights of common Americans.
    “It is to be regretted, that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.
    Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government.  Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions.  In full enjoymentof the gifts of heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions…to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.”

    Jackson’s message sent out an urgent call, for the natural born right of the poor to protest against the rich, during times of  unnatural balance, like a general’s call to arms against
    a mighty army that has numbers, but no soul in its attack,
    the common folk listened, responding, Jackson, 219, Clay, 49, john Floyd, 11, William Wirt,7-echoing the call for all Americans to hear. 

  • Victor Volpe

    Bill, you keep saying the bail out of wall street was in the billions.  It was in the trillions.  If you check the Fed report from around December 2, of a year ago – 2010 – you will see where they alone dolled out several trillion to the Wall Street firms, the foreign central banks in Europe, I believe Harley-Davidson received money, GE, and the McDonarld Corp. just to name a few.   I did not see this past December what the Fed reported for its activities this past year.  On top of the Fed, was the Federal Govt dolling out $$$ to the financial industry.  It is suppose to total over $10 trillion in actual transfers and over another $10 trillion in committments if needed.

  • Joan B.

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results….

  • Laudace30

    I am so thankful that Bill, Judith and crew have returned to bring some sane journalism back to the media.
    Bill, could you please give us all a lesson on


  • Abby Gilmore

    Sadly, we aren’t just suffering from a lack of Glass-Steagall, we have rolled back the clock to the Panic of 1907. this was induced by bubbles in the bucket shops.  We are permitting WS to run bucket shops, again, by way of the CDS market. 

    Bucket shops were a drag on the stock market as folks stepped to a curb broker to bet on the direction of a security in his bucket instead of the real market.  Curb brokers often cooked the ticker to skim at the start, but they also could translate the margins and leverage of their “investors” to their own advantage and thus take them out with a well timed bucket kick.  Can’t make that margin call?  Your bucket is busted.

    The first NYT’s story about my stepmother’s grandtheft uncle is “Broker Lashed with Whip” 1906.   He was the passanger in an auto driven by a fellow curb broker who took the lashing from a man in a carriage.  I don’t think it was over sharing the road.

    Buckets could be manipulated easily with big up or down bets.  The rumor would spread to the stock market, and thus the market could be moved.  JP Morgan won himself an insurance company with a railroad on the side timing the bucket.  He bet hard against it with his buddy, Ryan, and then the company tanked in the stock market sending a large shareholder into a spin off of his railroad. 

    Last I heard, JP held the bucket on 30% of the Eurobets, Morgan Stanley another 30%, Credit Suisse 20%.  MF’s demise so remindied me of the Equitable Life Assuance Society’s bucket kick, but this time, JP was its own curb broker timing MF’s bucket kick.  The ELAS was just an innocent adequately capitlaized insurer with a big investor who had what JP wanted and was over someone’s bucket, too. 

    The Feds busted down on the bucket in 1910 when for the first time they tapped the telegraph to reveal the price cooking.  Imagine all flash traders screens with an Uncle Sam looking over their shoulder…just imagine, WS.

  • Abby Gilmore

    Some on WS were so alarmed of the coming of Glass-Steagall, they had three years to conform,  they conspired to take out FDR with a French style fasci coup plot.  Sounds outrageous, no?  Well, FDR had them to rights on sedition charges, but rather than bring a full frontal assault on fascist sentiments in America which only results in a hostile attack on socialism as proven in Europe, he sent the plotters packing back to their little castles and tolerated their astroturfed American Liberty League by letting that fade of it’s own failed platform.   But it would do an American well to know they owe a debt of gratitude to the Quaker General, the Hero of the Bonus Marchers, Major General Smedley Butler.

    Not only did Butler give us early warning with “Mussolini Hit and Run Driver” NYTs, 1931, for which WS demanded he be arrested and courtmartialed.  He foiled the French connected plot.  They failed to burn him for risking Benito’s wrath on US bankers, but after the Bonus Camp debacle they asked him to do them a favor.  Would he help lead vets in a March on Washington?  Butler declined to lead, but was very interested in advising, because the march they had planned for Paris was going to be a blow out, too.  The Croix de Feu vet’s militia was the model they planned to mimic.  As planned, the Paris March devolved into a riot and then an emergency state during which time the CFs mobilized across the nation whipping up terror and shooting leftist opponents and police.  They morphed into the French Social Party and took the next election with their  anti-immigrant, anti-government, anti-progressive, pro-corporate, pro-militia, pro-coup platform.  By 1935 they formally declared themselves “Corporatists” to distinguish themselves from all the other Eurofasc.

    After he’d seen proof of their plotting coming to fruition in Paris and the purchase of leaderships of the American Legions, Butler ratted them out to the McCormack-Dickstein Committee.  Dickstein had to ceed leadership of his own investigation because of a heated anti-semitic backlash in the House.  “The Jew has gold while the poor have only paper!” boomed one McFadden on behalf of WS.  That’s what you got for investigating fascist activity in the US when Europe and WS were falling for it like dominos.

    Do find the redacted transcripts saved by Spivak, but DON’T follow his anger down the trail of anti-semitism.  Yes, some Jews were involved in promoting this fascion trend, but they were BANKERS first and FOREMOST.  The majority were White Shoe WASPS like Jack Morgan and “Aunt Peggy” Biddle who materially aided the ALL.

  • Anonymous

    Please, follow up on Byron Dorgan’s comment about Credit Default Swaps (CDSs).   As long as banks and hedge funds are placing bets that win when foreclosures take place, the housing market will fall.   Yes it needed to fall if America is to be competitive in the world economy.  But CDSs are pathology, for they have banks collect twice.   First on the loan failure premium called interest, and second on the CDS premium paid when a loan is 60 days late, 90 days, or upon foreclosure depending upon how the CDS is written.

    It is really sick and ought to be covered.  While it is old news it is not known publicly.   The Sub-Prime(sic) market was 1.3 Trillion while the CDS market was $60+ Trillion.

    As long as hedge funds and banks can make millions betting against families staying in their houses our economy will be in free fall.

    When the sweepings from the confusion created by the financial industry fall into the bankers pockets, pathology will reign.  When the sweepings fall into Our pockets, it will stop.

    Oh and why do they call them Credit Default Swaps instead of Loan Failure Insurance?   Because insurance is regulated, and that would be illegal.    Please,  shine a light on this.

    Thank you…

  • Abby Gilmore

    So, were Sandy Weill and Jim Johnson just playing chicken to see who could go the fastest without any brakes?  Who would gain the most ground before smashing into the wall?  Jimmy in his GSE, Fannie,  primed with inplicit backing of the tax payer  while racing under a flag of feel good fraud?  Or Sandy with his Glass busting merger and all bets on mentality?  Those two, there ought to have been a law they couldn’t manipulate.

  • Anonymous

    A fine point needs to be made here.  We need system changenot righteousness.  Dylan Ratigan makes the counterintuitive 
    point in his book “Greedy Bastards”, where the moral point is
    made of hating the sin, not the sinner.  Systems change, not
    blame and maya culpas will make that change.
      We live in a culture of blame and lawsuits and nothing seems
    to change.   Gandhi said it right, ‘Anger uncontrolled can burn
    the house down, when controlled, you can weld with it.
       While you can prosecute, you must recall that the financial industry has been writing the laws for years, so you are playing in their briarpatch.
    Ratigan’s poorly named book may point the way.  To begin
    with regulating the credit default swap market which is the 
    size of the GDP of the entire planet.  Stop them from betting
    our farm.

  • Anonymous

    On Moyer’s excellent site is a link to a Citizens for Tax Justice Report entitled:  Representation without Taxation.   Read it.  It is a jaw dropper.   Look for the ‘dirty thirty.’

  • Peter St John

    I had a hard time listening to former Citibank exec John Reed talk about the financial tsunami propagated on the American people.  It seemed like he felt only minimally involved because he retired in 2000 and did not directly participate as a Wall Street exec. 

    It occurs to me that there are two points that he didn’t talk about for obvious reasons:

    1) For profit corporations are designed to do one thing and that is make money therefore, they only consider issues that can impact their capacity to generate profit.  They have no conscience whatsoever!

    2) The potential for human’s to engage in illegal or immoral behavior is directly related to the amount of money involved relative to the personal wealth of the individual.   The Wall Street gang operate with no consideration for anything except what will make them the most profit.  This is why they work so hard to deregulate.

  • David Derosa1973

    John Reed … a true American.

  • Robert

    I urge everyone, who loves the forum that Bill Moyers offers, to go to the JFK library museum website, and nominate Mr. Moyers for the Profiles in Courage Award. I can not think of any one more deserving.

  • Ban

    Former Senator Dorgan shows great wisdom in his comments and thank you Bill Moyers for his appearance on this important topic. 

    The genius of Glass Steagall was that it gave singular focus to the banking regulators, which was the safety and soundness of banks who were limited to the business of taking deposits and making loans.  That gave the US the safest banking system in the world.  The securities regulators singular focus was the integrity of the securities markets, which meant the ‘leveling of the playing field’ for information and power.  That was the secret ingredient for the great success of the U.S. during the years of Glass Steagall’s life.  The other part of its genius was to realize that there is no such thing as a ‘wall’ within a corporation, which is why JP Morgan’s empire was split into JP Morgan commercial bank and Morgan Stanley investment bank.  THis last point is a drawback in the “Volcker rule”  — the purest thing to do is simply reinstate Glass Steagall.  It wasn’t broke and it didn’t need fixing.

    Senator Dorgan spoke of the first singers, who were later joined by the ‘choir’ all with the same sheet of musicm calling for the demise of Glass Steagall.  Walter Wriston of CitiBank in the late 1960s was that first singer, and representatives of that bank were always leads in the chorus.

  • Anonymous

    End limited liability for corporations too big to fail. Bring back wealth confiscation and deportation for stock holders, management (back 10 years), and Board of Directors (back 20 years).

       Then don’t mess around with the perps.

  • Oblio

    I’m sorry.  I saw it coming the day I heard the end of Glass Steagall was voted.  I knew what would happen and it did.  This guy is certainly no genius.  He is an apologist.  He is a thief.  He is a liar.  And of course he is a professor at MIT.

    What does that say for the quality of today’s education in America?


  • Strangelove

    I’m watching this now.  First, please me how a 90% loss in stock value (Citi) and a layoff of 50k people was some sort of premeditated, manipulated event that can be claimed to be a victory (regardless of how much the CEO made in salary and perks last year)?

  • Robert

    I’m disappointed with the John Reed interview.  Bill Moyers asked that no one raised questions about the merger with Travelers and John Reed said no.  If the researchers had done some additional digging they might have learned that unlike Reed’s predecessor, Walter Wriston, who encourged debate and conflict, John Reed’s reputation inside Citicorp was one of someone who surrounded himself with like-minded people that didn’t challenge.  I worked there for a number of years and can remember being told  (and I’m paraphrasing)–well we’ve been given a number to box to on revenue and even though it is completely false given the market, we need to develop projections as if we can achive it.  That kind of action tells me the guy at the top wasn’t interested in finding out the truth–and the Moyers team didn’t get to that truth to challenge Reed’s one-sided memory of his time.  The stories circulating inside Citi after the merger with the behavior of those at the top (many reported in the Wall Street Journal) help outsiders to understand what was really going on.  John Reed can be contrite in his interview now, but unless he contributed a significant portion of the excessive money the Citigroup board showered on him to charity to help others then it is all just words and meaningless.

  • olray

    I don’t know about a majority.  There are many who are uninformed and/or apathetic.  

  • Anonymous

    The Great Depression started in 1929 and lasted a decade. The recent crash which almost caused another depression, started in 2008, just about 80 years later.  Basically, most people that lived through and experienced the Great Depression have died and as humanity we had no one along the way to say, “We did this before and it was stupid, let’s not do this again.”
    We are bound to repeat the mistakes of past generations, unless we can put explanations for the important safeguards in our society, otherwise the reasons for those safeguards die with the people who put them in place, and the future generations never felt the pain and don’t know the reasons for the safeguards.  It’s like having a rule in place, but not knowing why the rule is needed.  Both are needed – the rule and the reason for it.

  • Nic Watkins

    According to GovTrack, Ron Paul was one of 15 non-voting on the repeal of Glass Steagall via the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, and was one of only 4 house members who voted NO on the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, the act with deregulated derivatives.  Out of all of the congressmen and former congressmen running for President in 2012, Paul’s hands are clean of this ‘smoking gun’ that has killed America.   Ironic how Santorum, Romney, and others get all the headlines, however, by simply trying to put gays back in the closet, waging war on women by controlling access to birth control, and jumping on other nonsense socially conservative issues.  This is where America, as a dumbed-down entity, tragically stumbles.

  • Bil

    I am a republican , retired CFO of a large manufacturing company and live in the conservative  mid west …. I suggest all the right wing head cases to watch this and realize our federal  government is out of control with nutty congressman that have been in office too long.

  • Sunnyruins

    It’s, That History thing, repeating itself….. We ALL SHOULD KNOW BETTER AND DON’T . I am ashamed of myself for not knowing better and trusting, always trusting, that someone out there knows better than I, Expecially older people. I’m 47.
    I always trust people older, and people in position of authority.
    Where are all the Grown -ups!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Voreez

    It’s very simple to resolve actually; reinstate the Glass Steagall act of 1933 that Clinton repealed in 1999.  We live economically the laws that were enacted 12 years prior.  That means that we have yet to hit the bottom.  Even the Chinese adopted these laws and have recently asked our government to reinstate this law. 
    The next item is everyone that is affiliated with MERS should be in jail.  This is an unregulated corporate entity with a board consisting of both bankers and Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac.  How much more do you need to define conflict of interest?  (BTW – this was a little setup by EDS and is not a system of record.)  Additionally, when you hear about not being able to find the information on loans, the stripping is done at MERS.  When I was at Fannie Mae they were holding classes on stripping.  Don’t tell me that they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong or illegal.
    What I have learned is capitalism is about money.  Money draws all kinds of illegal activity.  The largest consolidated concentration of wealth by individuals was the North American Mortgage pool.  Someone figured out how to enact a rather old shell game called it MERS and then packaged it up to sell as Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) to other country’s banks.  So if the other countries bought the bad MBS pools who holds the good MBS pools?
    It’s such a complicated game that you the American Tax payer can’t resolve this situation as the bankers and the government are playing under the table.  Crime of the century…..

  • Ameet Deshpande

    Thank you for doing what you are doing Mr. Bill Moyers. I feel very grateful for such good piece of researched journalism, which is truly independent. Thank you again.. I am a control engineer by trade, with goal of keeping engineering systems stable. Institutions such as yours are the attractors for stability in this system intentionally rigged up to be unstable and unfair.

  • P_lanus

    Thank you, Bill, for coming back and shining light where no one else is willing to. I thought it was a journalist’s job to do just that, but it appears that is an old-fashioned notion, too. The entire problem is greed–amazing amounts of it–the solution is prison sentences for those who brought us all here, and stricter regulations than ever before. I am appalled-no, disgusted!- at the lack of simple morality of people of  like John Reed, and equally disgusted by our government’s continuation of these policies and absolute failure to bring those responsible to justice. I would like to see some suggestions as to what we, individually, can do to make our voices heard. Signing petitions, writing/calling our congress members can help,  supporting the Attorneys General that are bringing lawsuits can help, and calling for the end of Citizens United –such a blatantly fraudulent name!–maybe even calling for impeachment of the justice’s such as Thomas Clarence, can help. We need a bigger revolution–or do we have to wait until violence in the streets takes over again. We need a lot more “Bill Moyers” in our world!
    Thank you, Bill, may you continue for a very long time to come!

  • Factsearch

    The American people have been warned for generations, yet most people don’t even care to learn , the the rest don’t do anything.  Those who want to fight for survival should get involved at

  • Robt

    The enormous influence of massive capital is usually curbed only after great suffering and outrage (such as the Great Depression) when the lessons are unaviodable.  Since vigorous government action this time managed (barely) to avoid a total collapse of the financial systyem, the suffering and outrage, albeit great, were not as great as they could have been.  The result is that the system does not fully correct itself and the culprits manage to avoid a proper regulatory response.  The cupidity of a few and shortsightness of the many will allow us to repeat these very dangerous crises, and it is uncertain whether the next time there will be sufficient resources even in the US Government to pull us back from the brink.  Shame on us all.

  • Mara S.

    I am so proud of Senator Dorgan speaking out about this. We really need to be wise and careful when we are dealing with everyones money. I want the banks and the government to work together and strictly regulate and hold accountable all involved in this industry.

  • Len Simpson

    Greed rules & congress gets bought , again & again, & again