William Philip Gramm (born July 8, 1942, in Fort Benning, Georgia, USA) is a US politician, who has served as a Democratic Congressman (1978–1983), a Republican Congressman (1983–1985) and a Republican Senator from Texas (1985–2002). He was a senior economic adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign from the summer of 2007 until July 18, 2008. He has been referred to as the "high priest" of the deregulation efforts widely blamed for the 2008-2009 bank and economic crisis.
Some economists state that the 1999 legislation spearheaded by Gramm and signed into law by President Clinton — the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act — was partly to blame for the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis and 2008 global economic crisis. The Act is most widely known for repealing portions of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had regulated the financial services industry. One provision of the act allowed Credit Default Swaps.
Gramm responded to criticism of the act by stating that he saw "no evidence whatsoever" that the sub-prime mortgage crisis was caused in any way "by allowing banks and securities companies and insurance companies to compete against each other." The Act passed the House by an overwhelming majority and passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, though it was introduced on the last day before Christmas holiday and never debated by either congressional body.
Gramm's support was later critical in the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which kept derivatives transactions, including those involving credit default swaps, free of government regulation.
In its 2008 coverage of the financial crisis, The Washington Post named Gramm one of seven "Key Players In the Battle Over Regulating Derivatives", for having "pushed through several major bills to deregulate the banking and investment industries, including the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley act that brought down the walls separating the commercial banking, investment and insurance industries".
- 2008 Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman, a supporter of Barack Obama, described Gramm during the 2008 presidential race as "the high priest of deregulation," and has listed him as the number two person responsible for the economic crisis of 2008 behind only Alan Greenspan.
- On October 14, 2008, CNN ranked Gramm number seven in its list of the 10 individuals most responsible for the current economic crisis.
- In January 2009 Guardian City editor Julia Finch identified him as one of twenty-five people who were at the heart of the financial meltdown.
- An Internet poll currently ranks Gramm #1 among 25 people selected by Time as candidates to blame for the economic crisis.