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Investments glossary

The Glass-Steagall Act


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The Glass-Steagall Act was passed by the U.S. Congress as part of the Banking Act of 1933. Sponsored by Senator Carter Glass, a former Treasury secretary, and Representative Henry Steagall, chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee, it prohibited commercial banks from participating in the investment banking business and vice versa. An emergency measure to counter the failure of almost 5,000 banks during the Great Depression. Glass-Steagall lost its potency in subsequent decades and was partially repealed in 1999. In the 21st century, however, another financial crisis has led to talk in political and economic circles of reviving the act.

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