1. Banks have been losing money since 2008.
The financial crisis of 2008 was caused by banks taking excessive risks with their customers’ money. When those risky investments failed, the banks were left holding billions of dollars worth of bad loans. To make matters worse, they had to pay depositors to take their money out of the bank. In order to avoid having to write off these losses, many banks stopped lending to each other. As a result, the entire banking system came close to collapse.
2. The government bailed them out.
In September 2008, the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mortgage finance giants that owned or guaranteed about half of all home mortgages in the United States. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) then became responsible for insuring accounts at both companies.
3. But taxpayers still ended up paying.
When the government took control of Fannie Mae and FreddieMac, it decided not to nationalize either company. Instead, the Treasury Department created two new government-sponsored enterprises, known as GSEs, to buy toxic assets from the private sector firms that had lent money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack. These assets included mortgage-backed securities, commercial paper, and other types of debt.
4. And now we’re stuck with the consequences.
As a result of the bailouts, the economy remains weak. Unemployment is high, consumer confidence is low, and people are afraid to borrow money. Many Americans feel like they’ve been thrown under the bus by big business and the government.
5. We need to change how we do things.
We need to stop bailing out businesses who make irresponsible decisions. If a company makes poor choices, its shareholders should bear the burden of that decision. Shareholders don’t own the country; the public does. We need to end corporate welfare and start rewarding businesses that create jobs and produce products our consumers want.
6. We need to reform Wall Street.
Wall Street’s reckless behavior nearly destroyed our economy. That’s why I’m proposing reforms to prevent something like this from happening again. First, we need to break up the biggest banks in America. Too big to fail is just too big. Right now, if JP Morgan Chase gets into trouble, taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars. That’s got to change. Second, we need to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which separated investment and retail banking. Third, we need to crack down on illegal foreclosures. Millions of families have seen their homes unfairly taken away from them.
7. We need to protect consumers.
I believe that if you give consumers more power, they’ll use it responsibly. That’s why I’ve proposed giving regulators the authority to require corporations to disclose any negative information about themselves. Consumers would know what kind of risk they’re getting into before buying a product.