Conservative Columnist George Will Agrees With — Sherrod Brown???

You know the adage about a stopped clock being right twice a day? Well, George Will, the dean of conservative newspaper columnists, recently ran a column that starts like this:

With his chronically gravelly voice and relentlessly liberal agenda, Sherrod Brown seems to have stepped out of “Les Miserables,” hoarse from singing revolutionary anthems at the barricades. Today, Ohio's senior senator has a project worthy of Victor Hugo - and of conservatives' support. He wants to break up the biggest banks.

Despite the hilarious characterization of our senator, this column is well worth a read. Your jaw will drop.

It's called "Time to Break Up the Big Bands," and no, there isn't some trick or twist at the end.

Will points out,

Today, the 5,500 community banks have 12 percent of the banking industry's assets. The 12 banks with $250 billion to $2.3 trillion in assets total 69 percent. The 20 largest banks' assets total 84.5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

Such banks have become bigger, relative to the economy, since the financial crisis began, and they are not the only economic entities to do so. Last year, the Economist reported that in the past 15 years the combined assets of the 50 largest U.S. companies had risen from around 70 percent of GDP to around 130 percent.

He then says,

But this just means that the pernicious practice of socializing losses while keeping profits private is not quarantined in the financial sector.


Government nurtured these behemoths by weaving an improvident safety net and by practicing crony capitalism.

Yes, we progressives say that a lot. But this is one of the nation's most prominent CONSERVATIVE commentators.

Will says,

Brown is fond of the maxim that "banking should be boring." He suspects that within the organizational sprawl of the biggest banks, there is too much excitement.

Undoubtedly. In an era when moving abstract dollar figures around creates risk-free incomes in the billions, while actually producing things and providing crucial services pays less and less all the time, banks needs to go back to the days when "Republican banker" meant a guy who believed in being safe, cautious, and unexciting. Remember when being a Republican meant being too boring and unimaginative, not trying to bring down the government and collapse the economy?

It's a strange day when George Will agrees with Sherrod Brown. But maybe he remembers when the biggest rap against Republicans was that they were dull and risk-averse.

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