Wall Street Icon Sandy Weill: Break Up The Big Banks

Former Citigroup Chairman and CEO Sandy Weill on Wednesday called for the breakup of the nation’s biggest banks.“What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans and have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not too big to fail,” Weill said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”

Weill, a legend of Wall Street who invented the so-called financial “supermarket,” said breaking up the banks would shelter taxpayers and depositors from risky investments. Weill called for greater transparency: “There should be no such thing as off balance sheet.”

Weill left Citigroup in 2006 and has focused on philanthropy since. In March, he and his wife Joan donated $12 million for the completion of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. Now that he’s out of the game, Weill is in a cozy place to call for such changes. But the public’s negative perception of the banking system isn’t “going to change so soon,” Weill said. “I want to see the United States be the leader. And I really believe in our country. We’re not going to be a leader if we keep on trashing our institutions.”

Weill said the model he built at Citi was “right for that time.” But “the world changed with the collapse of the housing market and the real-estate bubble … so I don’t think it’s right anymore.”

Weill did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Watch the interview: