Obama Moves to Rein in US Banks; Wall St. Shares Tumble

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (AFP) – President Barack Obama unveiled plans Thursday to limit the size and scope of US banks and finance firms in a new assault on the Wall Street excesses laid bare by the financial crisis.''Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is too big to fail,'' Obama vowed, flanked by former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker, who advised the president on the rules.Share prices dropped sharply on Thursday after US President Barack Obama proposed new limits on top bank risk profiles, spurring safe-haven US Treasury purchases but undercutting gains for the US dollar. At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 213.27 points, or 2.01 percent, at 10,389.88 while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 21.56 points, or 1.89 percent, at 1,116.48. Both indexes had their worst one-day percentage loss in nearly three months. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 25.55 points, or 1.12 percent, at 2,265.70.The plans to limit ''excessive'' risk taking and ''protect'' taxpayers are aimed at preventing banks or finance institutions from owning, investing in or sponsoring hedge fund or private equity funds.They will effectively force finance firms to choose between proprietary activities, trading in stocks and sometimes risky financial instruments and commercial activities, like making loans and collecting deposits. …