WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown released the following statement on Sanford Weill’s call to break up the big banks:

"Sanford Weill is one of many banking industry experts who have observed that too big to fail is often too big to manage. Allowing Wall Street megabanks to grow so large and over-leveraged that their downfall would send ripples throughout our entire economy isn't fair to taxpayers and it isn't fair to mid-sized and community banks who don't enjoy the implicit guarantee from the Treasury Department that comes with too big to fail status."

With the nation’s six largest Wall Street banks controlling assets equal to 64 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced a bill protect American taxpayers by placing sensible size and leverage limits on our nation’s largest financial institutions. As he explained in The Washington Post in June, the Safe, Accountable, Fair & Efficient (SAFE) Banking Act of 2012, would hold Wall Street accountable, prevent future bailouts, and protect American homes, jobs, pensions, and businesses.

Brown, Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, recently conducted a hearing entitled, “Is Simpler Better? Limiting Support for Financial Institutions” to examine our nation’s “Too Big to Fail” policies.

Based on legislation Brown introduced in April 2010 with U.S. Sens. Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Robert P. Casey (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Tom Harkin (D-IA), the bill would ensure that banks have the resources to cover their losses.

Specifically, the SAFE Banking Act of 2012:

  • Imposes a strict 10 percent cap on any bank’s share of the total amount of deposits of all insured banks in the U.S. This would eliminate loopholes in the existing statutory cap.
  • Imposes a strict 10 percent cap on the liabilities that any one financial company can take on, relative to the U.S. financial sector. Like the deposit concentration limit, this closes loopholes in existing law.
  • Imposes a limit on the non-deposit liabilities (including off-balance-sheet (OBS) exposure) of a bank holding company of 2 percent of GDP. No bank holding company could exceed $1.3 trillion.
  • Imposes a limit on the non-deposit liabilities (including OBS exposure) of any non-bank financial institution of 3 percent of GDP. No non-bank financial company could grow larger than $436 billion. 
  • Codifies a 10 percent leverage limit (including OBS exposure) for large bank holding companies and selected nonbank financial institutions into law.