Is Bigger Banking Better?
By Staff News & Analysis - November 22, 2012

Big banks are good for society, says George Osborne … Big banks are good for Britain and must not be broken up, according to George Osborne, as he argued the country's largest lenders were beneficial to society. George Osborne told the Commission on Banking Standards: 'If we aggressively broke up all of our big banks, I am not sure that, as a society, we would benefit form it.' – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: Big banks are necessary for the progress of civilization.

Free-Market Analysis: So now the truth comes out. Perhaps "big" banks did not evolve out of marketplace necessity after all. Perhaps they are part of what we call directed history.

We're led to believe that big banks are part of a larger evolution of commerce. But if there is one thing the Internet Reformation has shown us clearly it is that much of what we assumed was an evolution of reality was actually a procession of regulatory impositions.

In other words, the current financial situation in the West and even worldwide is manufactured by regulations and power brokers. In aggregate we call this group the power elite. We believe it gains most of its clout by controlling the trillions and trillions pumped out by central banks, especial in times of crisis.

This elite does NOT necessarily gain its wealth via interest flowing to the top but by CONTROL of numerous corporate and financial entities that create wealth in NUMEROUS ways.

But large banking establishments are certainly part of the larger control that the elites attempt to exercise over society. Some have suggested that the massive nature of these entities illustrates they are nothing more than bookkeeping establishments, designed to keep track of people's assets on behalf of the uppermost elites.

This makes sense within a larger perspective. Grant that a system of modern servitude can be effectively imposed if one is constrained, taxed and tracked. People in such a situation, and wishing to change the system, will have a paucity of resources with which to work.

Again, if we accept this perspective, it is perfectly understandable that top men (serving the power elite) would come out in favor of large banks. It has nothing to do with efficiency or the "reality" of the economy and everything to do with the larger control that big banking establishments provide to those who run them. Here's more from the article:

The Chancellor warned that "aggressively" breaking up banks would do little to benefit the UK and insisted the Government's plans to put in place a so-called "ring fence" to force banks to isolate their riskier, investment banking businesses from their retail arm was the right way to make the financial system safer.

"If we aggressively broke up all of our big banks, I am not sure that, as a society, we would benefit from it," he said. "We don't have a huge number of banks, sadly, large banks. I would like to see more."

His comments came as he gave evidence to the parliamentary commission on banking standards where he was accused of attempting to pressure members into supporting his ring-fencing reforms.

… Several members of the Commission have argued in favour of breaking up large banks, including former Chancellor, Lord Lawson.

Ring-fencing will not require banks to formally split themselves up and instead will see them place a firewall between their retail and investment banking arms that would isolate riskier activities from customer deposits.

But Pat McFadden, a Labour MP and member of the Commission, hit back at Mr Osborne, accusing him of "bullying" over his attempts to push through the ring-fence approach. "I don't think that the Chancellor's attempt to bully the Commission, which he himself set up, will work," said Mr McFadden.

We can see from this excerpt that a kind of elite dialectic is playing out … with some in power wanting to break up banks and others (Osborne) wanting big banks to self-separate into various financial elements that would not correspond with each other.

Of course, this is probably unrealistic. At the very top, the leaders of such larger institutions know what's going on and can arrange things so various units benefit from certain synergies even if those synergies are not obvious.

But beyond this, what should be discussed is the necessity for banking at all. Once one begins to discuss fiat monopoly money and how people can build competitive currencies on their own in the Internet era, the necessity for banking in modern (Western) terms seems to diminish.

Certainly, large commercial banks, when seen in this light, do not have much of a reason to exist. They are basically distribution arms for central banks, disbursing currency defined by governments and central banks and moderating their commercial perspectives based on central banks' larger interest rate mandates.

An excerpt from an article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh, explains both Greek and Roman banking as follows (paragraphing ours):

Greek: The bankers at Athens were called Τραπεζ?ται from their tables (τρ?πεζαι) at which they sat, while carrying on their business. Public or state banks seem to have been a thing unknown in antiquity, though the state must have exercised some kind of superintendence, since without it it is scarcely possible to conceive how persons could have placed such unlimited confidence in the bankers, as they are known to have done at Athens.

They had their stands or tables in the market place, and although the banking and money changing business was mostly carried on by the μ?τοικοι, or resident aliens and freedmen, still these persons do not seem to have been looked upon with any disrespect, and the business itself was not disreputable.

Their principal occupation was that of changing money at an agio; but they frequently took money, at a moderate premium, from persons who did not like to occupy themselves with the management of their own affairs. Thus the father of Demosthenes, e.g., kept a part of his capital in the hands of bankers.

These persons then lent the money with profit to others, and thus, to a certain degree, obtained possession of a monopoly. The greater part of the capital with which they did business in this way, belonged to others, but sometimes they also employed capital of their own …

Roman: The Argentarii at Romeb were also called argenteae mensae exercitores, argenti distractores and negotiatores stipis argentariae (Orelli, Inscript. n. 4060). They must be distinguished from the mensarii or public bankers, though even the ancients confound the terms, as the mensarii sometimes did the same kind of business as the argentarii, and they must also be distinguished from the nummularii [Mensarii; Nummularii.]

The argentarii were private persons, who carried on business on their own responsibility, and were not in the service of the republic but the shops or tabernae which they occupied and in which they transacted their business about the forum, were state property. As their chief business was that of changing money, the argentarii probably existed at Rome from very early times, as the intercourse of the Romans with other Italian nations could not well exist without them; the first mention, however, of their existing at Rome and having their shops or stalls around the forum, occurs about B.C. 350, in the wars against the Samnites (Liv. VII.21).

The business of the argentarii, with which that of the mensarii coincided in many points, was very varied, and comprised almost every thing connected with money or mercantile transactions …

We can see from this that much that is today characterized as "banking" was conducted on stools in marketplaces. The vast array of securitized products that cause so many problems when linked to central banking ebbs and flows did not exist.

And yet these were sophisticated societies. The Greeks and Romans provided foundational elements for modern, Western culture. The biggest difference (outside of technology) is the modern banking system itself. And yet both the Greeks and Romans managed to do without it in the fully modern sense.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the West's massive banking system is more of a command and control device than a 21st century necessity. Not only are big banks not needed, possibly, but really, as in ancient ages, maybe a stool might do. Perhaps several.

After Thoughts

Okay, perhaps we are exaggerating to make a point. Or perhaps not!