Just 100 days passed from introduction to enactment of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933. Like financial reform, that bill was signed on a Friday; President Franklin D. Roosevelt joked that he planned to take the law with him over the weekend "to study it more carefully."
Few people have studied financial reform as thoroughly those featured below. Their edited reactions to enactment are recounted below.
I'm both very happy and relieved. We came within an inch of losing this thing down the stretch three or four times. It has been a huge, tough battle.
This is being talked about as the ability for big mergers. I think those mergers would have taken place in any event.
The real story of this is going to be that the law enables the entire industry, particularly community banks, to respond to yet unforeseen changes in the marketplace without having to wait for a lawsuit to go to the Supreme Court. New products will come out, and banks will be able to offer them right away and won't lose market share like we did to mutual funds or annuities.
There's another benefit, a political benefit. We have spent so much of our resources fighting with the securities and insurance industries. Now we are working together. Going forward we're all going to be politically stronger.
-- Edward L. Yingling, deputy executive vice president at the American Bankers Association
From the standpoint of consumers and communities, it's a sad day. It's a sad day, too, for taxpayers, when you look at the threats this creates for the deposit insurance funds.
The Community Reinvestment Act is being weakened, and consumers' privacy is being invaded.
There is a lot of room to disagree on the merits of the new law, but the proponents had a responsibility to build a regulatory structure that would be commensurate with the stress these conglomerates are going to place.
Long range, I think that is one of the things this administration and this Congress are going to be criticized for.
A consolidated regulatory system -- that should have been the starting point.
-- Jake Lewis, who spent 27 years on the House Banking Committee's staff and now handles banking issues for Ralph Nader
It's about time. Whatever the merits of the original Glass-Steagall Act, it was simply overtaken by technology, by the changing economy, and the changing financial markets. Looking forward, the bill will prompt many megamergers, and policymakers should be on guard that the new conglomerates are well managed and do not become so troubled that the government has to bail them out someday.
The regulators need to be a lot more alert that risk management is under control.
-- Ken McLean, an aide to Senate Banking Committee Chairman William Proxmire, D-Wis., from 1967 to 1989
There's got to be a sense of gratification that public policy is catching up with the market. I think there's a lot of unfinished business. I just hope enactment of this bill is seen not merely as an end in itself. Congress should get ahead of the curve.
The surprise might be that banks are not the dominant acquirers in the assembling of new financial conglomerates.
If the big insurance companies can achieve demutualization, they may be quite aggressive. Another surprise might be the pace of financial conglomeration.
We've been riding the curve of the most benign economic environment; bankers may be more focused on the bottom line rather than buying market share at any cost.
-- Paul Schosberg, president of America's Community Bankers.
After a decade on Capitol Hill, he ran the New York League of Savings Institutions from 1974-1992.
When I started, I was 32 years old and single. Now I'm approaching 50, I have a family and three children. I'm happy that the bill was signed by the President.
This bill was simply a ratification of the marketplace. I'm personally not going to miss fighting over financial reform. The next bill, I predict, will find us and the banks on much more common ground.
We have other issues like e-commerce and how that is regulated. Like the old joke about Glass-Steagall helping lobbyists pay tuition bills, maybe that will be the legislation I'll be putting my grandchildren through college on.
-- Paul A. Equale, chief executive officer of the Independent Insurance Agents of America
I have spent nearly, not quite, a third of my life working on this issue and nothing else. It feels awful darn good to see it enacted. But I do not think this is an end. It's a beginning. What this does is open the door to new innovations in the marketplace. The issues legislatively won't go away because there are a number of inefficiencies built into this new law due to the compromises required to get it approved.
I don't want to open up wounds, but various sectors will recognize the inefficiencies and come back to the Hill for remedies.
There are clearly issues that -- particularly in the area of banking and insurance -- very difficult compromises were struck. Plus, I think the whole regulatory apparatus over time will be revisited.
-- Sam Baptista, managing director, government affairs at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Before that he was president of the Financial Services Council.