Economist, Paul Krugman:
Clearly, there was a massive increase in financial concentration, with a few true behemoths emerging. It’s easy to argue that this creates moral hazard, because the giant firms know that they’re too big to fail – which is also an easy slogan to remember. The idea that size is the problem has gained a lot of credibility from Paul Volcker, who personally embodies the truth of too big to fail (if you’ve ever met him); more seriously, Volcker has argued strongly that the repeal of Glass-Steagall, allowing financial firms to grow big in part by merging conventional banking with investment activities, set the stage for the crisis.
My view is that I’d love to see those financial giants broken up, if only for political reasons: it’s bad to have banks so big they can often write laws. But I’m not sold on the centrality of too big to fail to the crisis, for reasons best explained in terms of the second doctrine.
Economist, Simon Johnson:
There is no social value to having banks above $100 billion in total assets and we all now understand the danger of allowing banks to become 10 times that size – let alone entering the $2-$3 trillion range; we will gradually and responsibly force our biggest banks to become smaller. This worked for Standard Oil – no one can claim it hurt the oil industry. And who would really want to go back to having AT&T run a monopoly in any part of telecommunications?