Budget Blog

Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act:


The “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act” is designed to break up large financial institutions whose failure would put the American economy at risk of enormous job losses, business failures, bankruptcies and homeowner foreclosures. “Too Big To Fail” institutions are defined as any entity whose failure, due to its size, exposure to counterparties, liquidity position, interdependencies, role in critical markets, or other characteristics or factors, would have a catastrophic effect on the stability of either the financial system or the United States economy without substantial Government assistance. The expression “Too Big to Fail” grew out of the 2008 financial crisis, considered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and resulted in Congress approved a $700 billion bailout and the Federal Reserve propping up some institutions with $16 trillion in near zero-interest loans.

The bill would:

• Would require within one year of enactment the breakup of at least eight financial intuitions that are currently so large and globally connected that they highlighted by the Financial Stability Board. Those current eight are: JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon and State Street.

• Create a “Too Big to Fail List” based on the stability board list and compiled by banking regulators made up of key federal and state agencies. That list would be comprised of banks and bank holding companies who pose a threat to the financial system.

• Direct that the Treasury Secretary, within a year of enactment, break up the institutions on the list.

• Prohibit any institutions on the “Too Big to Fail list” from accessing Federal Reserve discount facilities and from using insured deposits for speculative activities, derivatives, or hedging. That means those banks would have strict limits placed on their banking activities once they go on that list.

Supporters include:

• Independent Community Bankers of America

• Public Citizen


• Americans for Financial Reform