Michael Greenberger, former Director of Trading and Markets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), was interviewed by NPR’s Terry Gross this past Thursday, April 3. He explained that the sub-prime mortgage crisis was caused by financial derivatives, and that there are more crises coming, because there are many more financial derivatives out there. He notes that the one act of deregulation most to blame – even more to blame than the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act (the law passed in the First Great Depression to separate commercial banking from investment banking) is the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, introduced on the sly by then Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), who is now the top economic advisor to John McCain:
And Greenberger warns that we are at the beginning of the financial crises, not the end.
When people tell you this is the worst economic crisis since World War Two, that’s a way of not saying the panicky thing, which is, we may be heading for a depression. And if a Bear Stearns collapses, you’re going back to 1929.
The [stock] market went up last week because there is the belief that Bear Stearns is the end. But there are some of us who are very worried that Bear Stearns is the beginning and not the end, and if we needed $30 billion to bail out Bear Stearns . . . .