Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Upsetting the system"

Joe Nocera's column takes a look at Jamie Dimon's "very long day."

It was a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" (LOVE that book!) for Dimon because it included fines of more than $1 billion - $920 million to appease for overwhelming splash of the London Whale, and $389 in fines and restitution for "selling bogus services" to its credit card customers.

FINALLY, a bank is forced to pay for its criminally foolishness behavior! But it's 2013 - banks have long been acting criminally foolish - why have there been no real fines up to now? (I simply cannot accept the $550 million fine $GS had to pay for the fraudulent Abacus deal as being a serious and significant fine for a company with $13.4 billion in profit that very same year.)

So why so long before seeing a relatively serious fine for extremely serious infractions? Nocera attributes this to "unfortunate timing." Had the Whale flopped in 2009, the government would have bent over backward to accommodate Chase. According to reporting done by American Banker newspaper, timing is everything:
“The reason is simple,” said the newspaper. “The government then was more worried about harming the system and did not want to potentially upset markets by assessing large fines.”
I see. In a system that had harmed itself in ways that dramatically brought down the global economy, people in power firmly believed holding those responsible would "harm the system." That it has taken five terrible, horrible, no good, very bad years to begin to hold bankers accountable for fraudulent and damaging behaviors is five years too long. And that's a terrible legacy for Obama to leave....