The accompanying graphic shows a fascinating correlation. In the years before New Deal regulation of banks and after the easing of regulations began in 1980, bank failures were quite high. So was income inequality.
But from about 1933, when the federal regulation of banks was put in place, to 1980, when Chicago School theories began to shape policy, bank failures were rare. During those years incomes were much more equal, with a prosperous middle class.
Correlation is not causality, but the fact that income inequality rose as banking regulations were eased makes sense. Freed of restraints, banks got into all sorts of activities that generated fees and saddled clients with high-interest debt. And once banks could collect fees for mortgages without having to worry about repayment — because the mortgages were sold off by Wall Street — the crucial link between reward and responsibility was severed.
The taxpayers’ burden - David Cay Johnston - Dec 3, 2011
The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.