Paul Volcker, a White House adviser and former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said failure should be an option for major financial institutions that conduct speculative, for-profit activities. "If a big nonbank institution gets in trouble and threatens the whole system, there ought to be some authority that can step in, take over that organization and liquidate it or merge it -- not save it," Volcker said. "It's called euthanasia, not a rescue."

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