Ron Chernow

Recent Articles

Why Save the Banks? The Ambivalent Liberal's Guide to Reform

Liberals may find it difficult to muster sympathy for bankers, but there are compelling reasons to strengthen banking. Reforms should help restore the banks’ profitability, while coupling new powers with stronger supervision to curb abuses.

Something in the liberal soul recoils from banking reform. Americans of many political stripes tend to view finance as an arcane or venal realm. But because financial issues seem the special concern of the rich, they offer spartan soul food for advocates of the downtrodden. Often, the politics of high finance seems an insider affair among money-grubbing bankers, brokers, and insurers, with nary a worker in sight. The liberal impulse is to constrain banks rather than to strengthen them to serve the real economy. The industrial world, by contrast, with its long-suffering masses, arouses more sympathetic interest. Liberals promote American industrial competitiveness largely free of worry that they also might be serving the private purposes of American industrialists. If one doesn't shed tears for General Motors, one can cite concern for auto workers. Yet to display such concern for the global role of a Citicorp or J.P. Morgan & Co. seems to constitute consorting with the enemy. Such...