April 29, 2010

“Too big to fail” – the 26-year-old origin and some more recent uses


“We have a new kind of bank. It is called too big to fail. TBTF, and it is a wonderful bank.”
       U.S. Congressman Stewart B. McKinney (R-Connecticut)
       Remark on September 19, 1984
       Commenting on the federal government’s $4.5 billion bailout of Continental Illinois  bank, which faced insolvency due to unwise lending practices. His phrase was resurrected during the more recent bank bailout. For more background, see the book Too Big to Fail.


“The whole notion of ‘too big to fail’ is about as anti-capitalist as it gets. When you start  protecting companies that should go under through their own faults, you are removing ‘the invisible hand.’”
       Matt Tellam
       Columnist for the Oregon Daily Emerald
       In his April 28, 2010 column


“Not only are too big to fail financial institutions bad for taxpayers, the enormous concentration  of ownership in the financial sector has led to higher bank fees, usurious interest rates on credit cards, and fewer choices for consumers.”
       U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) 
       Press release, April 26, 2010


“Chill, dudes. We’re too big to fail.”
       Political cartoon by Mike Keefe 
       In the Denver Post, Nov. 12, 2008


“If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big. In 1911 we broke up Standard  Oil – so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”
       Alan Greenspan
       Former Federal Reserve Chairman
       Comment to the Council on Foreign Relations, October 2009. (Expressing a view he didn’t seem have mentioned when he was Federal Reserve Chairman.)

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For more economic quotations see…

The Elgar Dictionary of Economic Quotations

Compiled by Charles Robert McCann Jr.

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