An economics professor at Harvard, Kenneth Rogoff, has an op-ed piece in today's Financial Times that has a lot in it that is highly debatable, but has at least one point that is worth taking seriously:
The fact is that banks, especially large systemically important ones, are currently able to obtain cash at a near zero interest rate and engage in risky arbitrage activities, knowing that the invisible wallet of the taxpayer stands behind them. In essence, while authorities are saying that they intend to raise capital requirements on banks later, in the short run they are looking the other way while banks gamble under the umbrella of taxpayer guarantees.
Not that all the banks are getting such an entirely great deal. Some of them were reportedly forced to take taxpayer money even though they didn't want it. And the government aid comes with government control; elsewhere in today's FT, an article reports that the U.S. government "put direct pressure on Citigroup to replace its finance chief only weeks before his surprise departure."