What a satisfying sight it would've been for the public to see Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and other high-rolling Wall Street banksters in handcuffs for having illegally foreclosed on the homes of hundreds of thousands of American families.
What a satisfying sight it would’ve been for the public to see Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and other high-rolling Wall Street banksters in handcuffs for having illegally foreclosed on the homes of hundreds of thousands of American families.
But, no. Instead of the kingpins of finance finally having to take responsibility for evicting so many people and wrecking the nation’s housing market, not a single one has even been pursued by the law. Rather, federal regulators have negotiated a secret deal with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and nine other mortgage lending giants, letting banks pay $10 billion in penalties to end the case against them.
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The lesson here is clear: If your crime is vast enough, forget doing time, you don’t even personally pay the fine – you just unleash your mad dog lawyers to cut a deal, shifting the cost of your felonious profiteering scheme onto your bank’s shareholders. Letting the chief schemers deflect responsibility also has zero deterrent effect on their future scheming, and it destroys
public trust in the notion of equal justice for all. “It’s not fair,” we shout in exasperation.
But the big shots shout back: “Fair? That’s where you take your pig to win a blue ribbon. This is Wall Street, baby – grab all you can!”
So they’re still there, still scheming, profiting, and grinning. In the same week that Goldman Sachs agreed to pay a fine for its illicit treatment of homeowners, it announced that CEO Lloyd Blankfein was awarded some $19 million in pay (including a $6 million bonus) Likewise, JPMorgan agreed to a sweetheart settlement for its mortgage malfeasance, then – a week later – it delivered an $11.5 million paycheck to its chief, Jamie Dimon.
Anyone who says “crime doesn’t pay” simply isn’t paying attention to Wall Street.
“Goldman Raises CEO’s Stock Bonus 90% to $13.3 Million,” www.bloomberg.com, January 19, 2013.
“Government targets deductions on settlements,” Austin American Statesman, January 1, 2013.
“Taxpayers easing banks’ penalty costs,” Austin American Statesman, January 18, 2013.
“Deal Expected On Past Abuses In Home Loans,” New York Times, December 31, 2012.