While Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner prepares for a “financial deepening” he hopes will be a boon to U.S. banks, we may be steering instead for broader, shallower waters which will drive down margins in financial services and favor simplicity.
Geithner told The New Republic that he sees a coming boom for demand for financial services from emerging markets as a newly affluent middle class seeks new and more sophisticated financial products.
“I don’t have any enthusiasm for … trying to shrink the relative importance of the financial system in our economy as a test of reform, because we have to think about the fact that we operate in the broader world,” Geithner said.
The vision, perhaps unspoken, is for a recapitalized U.S. banking system with strong enough titans at the top to compete globally to sell complex financial services to Indian corporations as well as Chinese households.
On this reading, the decision to not take effective action to whittle down the too-big-to-fail banks makes sense; the new world will need Citigroups, not community banks.