Financial Crisis of 2008

For the single best analysis of the Financial Crisis of 2008, please click on this PDF Link.  Article written by The Consumer Education Foundation and Wall Street

Wall Street Watch Sold Out. Long Version  pdf

The Financial Crisis of 2008 is a striking example of the breakdown of the Rule of Law in the business and economic sphere, where the regulators are controlled by those they are supposed to be regulating.   In effect, the major banks of the United States became the regulators and legislators for the financial markets.

Additionally, please see:  13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.  by Simon Johnson and James Kwak, 2010.

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13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown

Simon Johnson, James Kwak

Bernanke: Wall St execs should have gone to jail for crisis

Monday October 05, 2015 09:47

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says some Wall Street executives should have gone to jail for their roles in the financial crisis that gripped the country in 2008 and triggered the Great Recession.

Billions of dollars in fines have been levied against major banks and brokerage firms in the wake of the economic meltdown that was in large part triggered by reckless lending and shady securities dealings that blew up a housing bubble.

But in an interview with USA Today published Sunday, Bernanke said he thinks that in addition to the corporations, individuals should have been held more accountable.

“It would have been my preference to have more investigations of individual actions because obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm,” Bernanke said.

Asked if someone should have gone to jail, the former Fed chairman replied, “Yeah, I think so.” He did not, however, name any individual he thought should have been prosecuted and noted that the Federal Reserve is not a law-enforcement agency.

Bernanke is promoting his new 600-page memoir, “The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath,” which is scheduled to be published Monday.

He began the book after leaving the Fed in 2014. The memoir details his take on the crisis in which the government took over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and provided hundreds of billions in aid to the biggest U.S. financial institutions.

The Associated Press obtained an early copy of the book last week. He writes that the taxpayer-provided bailouts of banks and Wall Street firms were hugely unpopular, but says they were necessary to avoid an economic catastrophe.

“I certainly was not eager to bail out Wall Street and I had no reason to want to bailout Wall Street itself,” he told USA Today. “But we did it because we knew that if the financial system collapsed, the economy would immediately follow.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Niall Ferguson:

… we must ensure that those who fall foul of the regulatory authority pay dearly for their transgressions. ..there was…the feeling of impunity that came not from deregulation but from non-punishment.

There will always be greedy people in and around banks. After all, they are where the money is – or is supposed to be. But greedy people will commit fraud or negligence only if they feel that their misdemeanour is unlikely to be noticed or severely punished. the failure to applyk regulation – to apply the law – is one of the most troubling aspects of the years since 20017. In the United States, the list of those who have been sent to jail for their part in the housing bubble, and all that followed from it, is visibly short.  In the United Kingdom, the harshest punishment meted out to a banker was the “cancellation and annulment” of the former Royal Bank of Scotland CEO Fred Goodwin’s knighthood.

Niall Ferguson: The Great Degeneration, p. 75.

GP: Professor Ferguson leaves out one crucial aspect of the Financial Crisis – that Banks and Investment Houses, such as Lehman Brothers and AIG, were trading sophisticated Bond Options over-the-counter, in an unregulated market, unseen by any authority.  In the normal options or commodity exchanges,  all activities are subject to the regulatory scrutiny of the exchange itself plus the appropriate governmental regulatory authority, either  the SEC or the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. It was not only the deregulation of the Banking System (undoing ofthe Glass-Steagall Act) and lack of fear of transgressing financial regulations;  there was no regulatory authority at all involved in overseeing the Derivative and Credit Default Swap Markets between banks and investment houses.

The full story can be read in Wall Street Watch Sold Out. Click Here.