Glass-Steagall

When Goldman Sachs bought the commodity trading house J Aron in 1981, it also took on Lloyd Blankfein, then a salesman of silver coins. Thirty-two years later, Mr Blankfein is Goldman’s chairman and chief executive and the bank owns, among other commodity assets, some aluminium warehouses near the ailing city of Detroit.

John Gapper

Sandy Weill’s belated conversion to the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall – the act that he helped to demolish – is a significant moment. It suggests that the pressure for greater and more effective structural reform of finance is becoming overwhelming.

Mr Weill was a major force behind the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that ended Glass-Steagall and allowed the merging of commercial and investment banking in the US. Now, he seems to think it would be better to have Glass-Steagall back. 

John Gapper

The arrival of the Cameron-Clegg government in the UK promises a convergence between the US and Britain over structural banking reform.

Financial reform is currently passing through Congress, with a version of the “Volcker rule” separating out proprietary trading – however that is defined – from investment banking.