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Financial regulation is designed to ensure a level playing field and protect taxpayers and the broader economy. Recent reports, data, and market developments have shown that America’s largest banks – which serve customers of all sizes, from America’s largest companies to millions of small businesses – have become smaller and simpler. Capital has more than doubled and liquidity has more than tripled among the largest firms. Furthermore, among all banks, new capital surcharges and long-term debt requirements are encouraging all banks to reconsider scope and scale.
These are not peripheral changes: Goldman Sachs is 15 percent smaller than in 2008, Morgan Stanley is 17 percent smaller, and Citi is 10 percent smaller. Meanwhile, Bank of America has divested $70 billion worth of non-core businesses and JPMorgan shed $100 billion in non-operating deposits. This reality stands in stark contrast to claims from critics suggesting nothing has changed or that its business as usual among large banks.
At the same time, the goal of financial regulation should not be to engineer de facto break-ups, nor hinder U.S. banks’ international competitiveness. Going forward, policymakers should ensure reforms do not hamper large banks’ ability to serve their customers, supporting sustainable economic growth.