Today on Bloomberg TV’s “Market Makers,” former Bear Stearns CEO and JP Morgan (JPM) Vice Chairman Emeritus Ace Greenberg talked about Sandy Weill’s recent comments about breaking up big banks – saying he didn’t believe Sandy made the comments. Greenberg said, “It was that guy Sacha Barry Cohen, or whatever his name is…Yeah, he was impersonating Sandy. I know Sandy.”
Greenberg also said that he hasn’t lost any confidence in the financial system over recent glitches in the market. Excerpts from the interview can be found below, courtesy of Bloomberg Television.
On whether there are any comparisons between Bear Stearns and Knight Capital:
“No, no parallels whatsoever. Knight is a firm that’s done very well. [Knight] was a victim of two perfect storms – one was the Facebook problem as you know, and then they had this other problem. So this was just something very unusual, came out of nowhere and hit them hard. I’m just very happy that they survived and that people came to their rescue. I think it’s great.”
On what Wall Street could learn from the Knight experience:
“Whenever you put in a system, you have to be very careful, you have to run parallel systems and make sure it works. You also have to be able to turn it off, which was the problem here. But it’s just one of those things that happens. I’m sure they did everything right and something went wrong. Those things happen.”
“A couple of years ago we had a big malfunction in the New York Stock Exchange. I remember Proctor & Gamble went from $60 to $40 in a few seconds. And I was a stockholder and it didn’t make me nervous. I knew it was a glitch. It didn’t hurt anybody. It didn’t make me lose confidence in the system because they had a glitch. Because people make mistakes and machines make mistakes. Nothing is perfect.”
On Sandy Weill’s recent comments about breaking up big banks:
“It wasn’t Sandy Weill. It was that guy Sacha Barry Cohen, or whatever his name is…Yeah he was impersonating Sandy.”
“That was not Sandy – I know Sandy. I think it was a guy making a movie about Wall Street or something, that’s my guess.”
On why Sandy Weill might have made those comments and whether there is any validity to the idea of breaking up big banks:
“You’d have to ask Sacha [if Weill meant those comments]. Is it possible? Of course it’s possible. Do people change their minds? Yes. I change my mind on occasion.”
“That egg has been scrambled, so we can quit talking about it…In my opinion, they’re not going to [break up big banks] here because it’s gone too far. I think this is a huge country, we need big banks, we need banks that can make huge loans and I’m proud to be associated with a bank that can make the biggest loans in the world and they do. And that’s great for the country and I think it’s necessary to have banks that are that big.”
“As far as separating trading, you’re getting into another issue. The banks didn’t get in trouble because of mortgages and default swaps, the banks got in trouble because of homes.”
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