Sandy Weill, the former CEO of Citigroup and father of the modern too-big-to-fail bank, last month shocked Wall Street when he said that he thought it might be a good idea to break up the megabanks like the one he used to run.
He's not alone in reversing his position. Former Merill Lynch CEO David Komansky, former CEO of CitiCorp John Reed, former CEO of Morgan Stanley Phil Purcell have also expressed doubts about the banking model that helped make them rich.
Their reasons for questioning too-big-to-fail vary. Purcell, for instance, merely opposes megabanks because he says shareholders would get more value if different banks were broken up. Others, like former Citigroup CFO Sallie Krawcheck, say it's the incentive structure of too-big-to-fail banks that is the problem, not their size.
Below are the bankers with second thoughts about too-big-to-fail:
Sanford "Sandy" Weill, Former Chairman And CEO Of Citigroup
On July 25, former Citigroup CEO and father of the modern megabank, Sandy Weill shocked the business world when he announced on CNBC that he believed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/sandy-weill-cnbc-break-up-big-banks_n_1701274.html" target="_hplink">too-big-to-fail banks should be broken up.</a> <em>Rolling Stone</em> columnist Matt Taibbi wondered aloud how Weill's interviewer, Andrew Ross Sorkin, failed to ask his guest whether or not he was high. Weill lobbied for the <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/10/27/john-reed-on-glass-steagall-then-now/" target="_hplink">repeal of Glass-Steagall</a> in the late 1990s, the result of which helped make banks so big.
John Reed, Former Chairman Of Citigroup
John Reed, former Chairman of Citigroup, announced in 2009 that he was in favor of separating commercial and investment banks in a letter to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/opinion/l23volcker.html" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a>. During the merger negotiations between Reed's consumer bank CitiCorp and Sandy Weill's investment bank Travelers Group Inc. in 1998 -- into what would become Citigroup -- Reed reportedly suggested that the two banks merge and then quickly break up, dividing the group's investment arm from its consumer arm, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444130304577558710088959968.html" target="_hplink"><em> The Wall Street Journal</em></a> reported. As Citigroup's stockholders and the American taxpayers have since learned, Reed's proposed merger and subsequent breakup never happened.
Phil Purcell, Former Chairman And CEO Of Morgan Stanley
Former Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, Phil Purcell, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304765304577480743265772620.html" target="_hplink">argued in a <em>Wall Street Journal</em> op-ed</a> that megabanks like Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and, yes, even Morgan Stanley should break up their different divisions into separate firms. But his reasoning is different from the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Purcell argues that shareholders would be making more money if the banks were broken up: <blockquote>"Client and shareholder-focused financial businesses should no longer be held hostage to the fortunes of investment bankers and traders. These businesses should be spun off to give the value to shareholders and let investment banks be owned privately--hopefully largely by employees (and perhaps sophisticated institutional investors like Berkshire Hathaway, KKR and Blackstone) so that the interests of the owners and bankers are aligned."</blockquote>
David Komansky, Former CEO Of Merrill Lynch
Former Merill Lynch CEO, David Komansky, is one of the former megabank CEOs calling for the breakup of too big to fail banks, <a href="http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/under-pressure-megabanks-rely-on-three-myths/" target="_hplink">according to Simon Johnson.</a>
Sallie Krawcheck, Former Chief Financial Officer Of Citigroup
Former Citigroup CFO Sallie Krawcheck has argued that big banks are simply <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/sallie-krawcheck-jpmorgan-chase-loss_n_1588989.html" target="_hplink"> too complex to manage.</a> Megabanks like JPMorgan, which posted a <a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/jpmorgan-discloses-significant-losses-in-trading-group/" target="_hplink">multi-billion dollar trading loss in 2012</a>, are so complex and the manager incentives so skewed that major losses like the ones JPMorgan posted are almost inevitable, Krawcheck said, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/opinion/nocera-the-simplicity-solution.html?ref=glasssteagallact1933" target="_hplink">according to <em>The New York Times</em>.</a> Instead, she argues for creating internal incentives that direct managers and executives towards focusing on the amount of risk their bank takes on. Paying executives in bonds and stocks, she argues, is a good place to start.
Richard Parsons, Former Chairman Of Citigroup
Former Citigroup Chairman, Richard Parsons, admitted that he believed the repeal of Glass-Steagall -- the law separating commercial and investment banks -- was one of the single greatest contributors to the 2008 Financial Crisis, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-19/parsons-blames-glass-steagall-repeal-for-crisis.html" target="_hplink">Bloomberg reports</a>. "To some extent what we saw in the 2007, 2008 crash was the result of the throwing off of Glass-Steagall," Parsons, 64, said <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-19/parsons-blames-glass-steagall-repeal-for-crisis.html" target="_hplink">during a question-and-answer session</a>. "Have we gotten our arms around it yet? I don't think so because the financial- services sector moves so fast." So he's in favor of reinstating Glass-Steagall, right? No exactly. To Parsons, the issue now isn't so much that banks are too big to fail as they are too big to manage. "We are going to have to figure out how to manage in this new and dynamic world because there are good and sufficient business reasons for putting these things together," Parsons said. "It's just that the ability to manage what we have built isn't up to our capacity to do it yet."