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At Last, Too Big To Fail On the Defensive

Joseph Hines

It's been a big month for changing the narrative protecting big banks from prosecution and regulation. 

The increasing capitalization of the largest banks.

First, a powerful Bloomberg View op-ed drew renewed attention to an IMF report arguing that banks receive a .8 percentage point implicit subsidy from borrowers because of their perceived indispensability to the modern economy. The cost of those subsidies when multiplied by the ten largest banks? $83 billion a year. Further, the Bloomberg editors found that the top 5 banks—JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo received $64 billion annually from the subsidy, exactly equal to their annual profits. That means that the biggest banks in the country, worth over $7 trillion, would just break even without taxpayer subsidy.

After the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the largest banks receive their sole profits as a result of government largesse.