Byron Dorgan's warning about risk

Ten years ago, the senator from North Dakota warned against repealing Glass-Steagall. His premonition came true.

Published October 2, 2008 2:24PM (EDT)

Give Senator Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., some credit for consistency. He opposed the Financial Services Modernization Act in 1999 (a.k.a. Gramm-Leach-Bliley) which repealed Glass-Steagall's separation of commercial and investment banking. And he was one of nine Democratic Senators to vote against the the bailout on Wednesday night.

Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture points us to the American News Project, which dug up Dorgan's Senate speech opposing Gramm-Leach-Bliley. The question of whether the repeal of Gramm-Leach-Bliley contributed to the current credit crisis is hotly contested by politicians and economists, but Dorgan's warning holds up pretty well, nearly ten years later.

There are some notions that represent transcendental truths, that are true over time, and one of those in my judgement, I fervently believe, is that we are with this piece of legislation moving towards greater risk, we are almost certainly moving towards substantial new mergers and concentration in the financial services industry. That is almost certainly not in the interest of consumers, and we are deliberately and certainly moving toward inheriting much greater risk in our financial services industry. And so I come to the floor to say that I regret I cannot support this legislation. I think we will look back in ten years time and say we should not have done this.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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