A few weeks ago James Kwak noted that Goldman had only $270 billion of assets in 1998, and asked, half-rhetorically, whether that was big enough, since Goldman was "probably doing a perfectly good job of serving their clients at the time." I thought the answer to this question was obvious, but I guess it's not, since this meme has apparently persisted. The answer, of course, is that capital markets have exploded upwards since 1998. The international bond markets rose 157%, from $32.5 trillion in 1998 to $83.5 trillion in 2008; bond issuance rose 272%, from $654 billion in 1998 to $2.4 trillion in 2008; etc., etc. I don't have a lot of time, but I think these charts drive home my point. Asking whether banks, which serve as market-makers in capital markets products, need to be bigger than Goldman was in 1998 frames the issue exactly wrong. The issue isn't how big market-makers need to be in order to provide adequate liquidity to the capital markets of 1998. The issue is how big market-makers need to be in order to provide adequate liquidity to the capital markets of 2009 (and beyond).