Well, it gets a bit repetitive to write about this but it’s that or spacecrafts following comets(come to think of it, the comet stuff is much more fun). But, here we go again: bankers rip us off and all they need to do is sock it to the shareholders and customers and, presto, Eric Holder and his boss go home happy campers. The Treasury might get a little richer but nothing much will have changed.
One person who is a bit of a hero, I think, in this whole post-financial-crisis-the-bankers-got-away-with-it scam is Jed Rakoff, who sits in the Federal District Court of Manhattan. A few years ago, I wrote that Rakoff understood that the government, our government, and, in particular, the Securities and Exchange Commission, is not serious about holding people accountable for the robbery and greed and incompetence that led to the financial collapse, costing millions of people their jobs and obliterating trillions of dollars in wealth. As Rakoff said, it’s all a show. But, at least, when he can, Rakoff is trying to make it hurt–and, now, to the tune of a $1.9 billion fine against Bank of America.
Well, gee, no surprise here. A big CIVIL penalty for a major financial scam but no banker is heading to jail. Yet. Or probably never.
No one is going to be surprised by this news. It was pretty evident by the facts on the ground: The Justice Department has not been telling the truth about its mortgage fraud investigations and prosecutions. This pretty serious allegation has considerable weight given that it comes not from some blogger or analyst but directly from the Department’s own Inspector General.
Maybe I’m naive or just stubborn (yes) or both but I can’t get too excited by today’s news of a judgement against Bank of America. Because it doesn’t change much down the road. You’ll see why.
A long time ago, I wrote about the bankruptcy of the ratings agencies, pointing out that S&P and Moody’s were a cog in a corrupt machine. The only startling fact in the saga about the ratings agencies is that anyone paid any attention to them anymore — the world of the chattering classes would shake every time one of these clowns issued some pronouncement about the economy, even as evidence mounted about their role. So, now, it appears at least S&P will face some judgement — though it is to be seen how harsh.