¿Miedo por el fantasma de la Glass-Steagall?

CAMBRIDGE.– La ley Glass-Steagall de 1933, que fue polémica durante mucho tiempo y separó en Estados Unidos a los bancos comerciales que captan depósitos de los bancos de inversión que negocian con títulos, ha vuelto a ser noticia. Esta separación simbolizó durante mucho tiempo la inusual historia de la regulación bancaria estadounidense –probablemente, la más inusual en el mundo desarrollado.

La regulación bancaria estadounidense había forzado largamente a los bancos a mantener su tamaño pequeño y su alcance local (imposibilitándoles la apertura de sucursales en otros estados), a diferencia de sus equivalentes europeos y japoneses, al tiempo que limitaba su capacidad operativa (impidiéndoles combinar la banca comercial con la de inversión). Los límites continuaron hasta la década de 1990, cuando el Congreso revocó la mayor parte de esta estructura regulatoria. Pero ahora, la idea de una nueva Glass-Steagall ha regresado, y no solo en Estados Unidos.

Sandy Weill, alguna vez director general de Citigroup, dijo el mes pasado que permitir la fusión de los bancos comerciales con los de inversión fue un error. Se trata del mismo Weill que cabildeó para erradicar la Glass-Steagall y construir el Citigroup actual, que reunió a bancos tradicionales de captación de depósitos, empresas de seguros y corredores de valores. De hecho, Weill diseñó un acuerdo para fusionar al Citi con una aseguradora mayor –algo ilegal en la época, según la Glass-Steagall– y luego impulsó la revocación de la ley, para dar vía libre a esa fusión.

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