Is there any accountability on Wall Street?
I was just reading an opinion article in the New York Times about Jamie Dimon being on Capitol Hill speaking to the U.S. Senate. The article basically describes how the lawmakers give these Wall Street CEO’s a free pass with regard to their running of their firms. From the article:
In brief, he didn’t say much that everyone didn’t already know — and he didn’t give an inch on his fierce opposition to the tough financial regulations needed to ensure that banks’ risky behavior does not again threaten to bring down the financial system. The senators did not press him nearly hard enough. Some Republicans even praised Mr. Dimon for his bank leadership and let him critique proposed financial regulations, while one Democrat sought his advice on how to fix the deficit.
A month after the trading losses were first revealed, Mr. Dimon has yet to offer a thorough explanation for what happened. One of the big questions is whether the loser trades were really, as Mr. Dimon claims, hedges intended to protect against potential losses on other of the bank’s positions, or proprietary trades — speculative bets — placed for profit.
So where is the accountability for these firms? Who is ever going to stop these financial crises from happening over and over again. They (the lawmakers) will continue to let these criminals off with often not even a tongue lashing…..but it’s all good, the taxpayers can bail them out.
Charles Ferguson, the writer and director of the academy award winning documentary Inside Job, broke down the 2008 financial crisis into why and how it happened and how the U.S. taxpayers got left with a large portion of the bill. (If you haven’t seen it, you should as it is very well done.) Ferguson has recently released a book, Predator Nation, where he calls out the criminal behavior on Wall Street. Crimes, as pointed out by Ferguson:
But the banks are also guilty of two other, ever larger, crimes. The first of these is that they used their wealth to acquire and manipulate political power, to their own advantage but to the nation’s detriment. It was in large measure the financial sector’s political activities (through lobbying, campaign contributions, and revolving-door hiring) that gave us deregulation, abdication of white-collar law enforcement, tax cuts for the wealthy, huge budget deficits, and other toxic policies.
And the bankers’ final crime was that, far from channeling funds into productive uses, the financial sector has become parasitic and dangerous – a semi-criminal industry that is a drag on the American economy. The banks have destabilized the financial system, wasted huge sums of money, plunged millions of people into chronic poverty, and crippled economic growth throughout the industrialized world for many years to come.
And yet, nobody has seen any jail time from any of this…So who is supposed to hold these people accountable? It is obvious that Congress will never get that job done. It is in times like these when I feel that our country is finished…when money rules everything. It is when money trumps the hearts and minds and consciences of people…all people. It is very sad and I don’t know what the answer is. I think that maybe the people need to find their voices.