In recent decades politicians have increasingly followed the Keynesian prescription of economic growth through continued government borrowing and the creation of undreamt of amounts of fiat money by central banks. To facilitate this process, the larger commercial banks have acted as the central banks' de facto distribution system, and as a result have grown ever larger while accepting progressively greater risks.
In 2008, potential catastrophe loomed as the entire international financial system was challenged with collapse. But, as the 'darlings' of the central banks, the "too big to fail" banks were saved by taxpayer bailouts so that they could continue to play their role in the stimulus engine. But as a result of these distortions, the environment for those banks outside of the exclusive "too big to fail club" has been increasingly challenging. In the United States, the financial services industry is changing radically and many fear that the days of U.S. dominance will be coming to an end.
Public ire resulting from the 2008 financial crisis largely missed politicians and central bankers and landed squarely on "Wall Street." As a result, bankers have become easy political targets. Increased regulation of the banking sector has become the rallying cry for the political left.
In addition to direct assaults on the banks, the ill-designed 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law has raised considerably the cost of entry to small entrepreneurial financial companies. Already, it is forcing the business of smaller financial companies offshore to the benefit of other countries.
Daniel Tarullo, an influential executive at the Federal Reserve Board, has suggested curbing bank growth by demanding a limit on the non-deposit liabilities of banks. Too often, short-term debt comprises the majority of these liabilities and is a source of potential vulnerability in a credit crunch. Meanwhile, some politicians have urged higher capital requirements in order to curb increasing bank size. Even ex-bankers such as Sandy Weil who led the lobbying effort to abolish the Glass-Steagle Act are now calling for its effective restoration. As a result, many corporations are deciding to leave the banking sector.