Then, in 1999, under heavy pressure from the financial industry, Glass-Steagall was repealed by President Bill Clinton, unleashing the rise of a number of behemoth banks with combined commercial and investment arms. Less than a decade later, most of them nearly combusted in the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, requiring billions in taxpayer bailout funds to stay afloat.
Today, Wall Street continues to be riddled with systemic risks. The Dodd-Frank financial reforms enacted in 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis helped reduce some of the risk, but as the new president of the Minneapolis Fed recently acknowledged, they didn't go far enough. "I believe the biggest banks are still too big to fail and continue to pose a significant, ongoing risk to our economy," Neel Kashkari — a Republican – told an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. last month.
An even more unlikely proponent of reining in big banks is Asher Edelman, the inspiration for Gordon Gekko in the movie "Wall Street." In a recent interview with CNBC, Edelman called for banks to return to lending, which stimulates middle class spending and the overall economy, rather than speculation, which pads the balance sheets of the big banks, not to mention the pockets of the top 1 percent.