But there was one thing all the CEO's were really good at: buying up other businesses. While this manipulated their own stock options and were generally considerred a good thing by the stock market, mergers decreased the diversity of our nation's finacial portfolio. Like a conspiracy where the left hand doesn't need to know what the right hand is doing, the high-risk parts of a company made bets with the low-risk parts of a company's money. Give 'em an inch, they took a mile.
Now that the hands are caught in the cookie jar, it becomes apparent to many folks that if organizations like this were to fail, it would bring down far, far more than just that organization alone. There was plenty of talk on the left for years about how mergers were only creating oligarchies, and monopolies. There wasn't enough talk on the right about how such mergers stifle competition. Now we see the awful result.
The essential part of "free-market capitalism" has to do with competition. Take that away, and the results ain't pretty.
So, should we carry Roosevelt's big stick and start busting up some of these trusts? Some folks think so:
"Yes, finance marches on. We're not going back to 1933. But some things about human nature never change. Now that we understand the fallacy of the "dispersion of risk" idea—which Wall Street, with a big assist from Alan Greenspan, sold us on before the crash—we should arrive at about the same place as Glass, Steagall and Teddy Roosevelt did. We can't have a free-market economy dominated by institutions so huge that they don't have to play by free-market rules. And yet we still do."