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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/17/15

US needs the Iceland option: If 'Too-Big-to-Fail'' Means Too-Big-To-Jail' It Should Mean 'Too-Big-to-Be'

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How much did this massive conspiracy cost, and how much did these corrupt banks make by manipulating currencies? Here's what Matt Levine wrote about that in Bloomberg News:

"How much money did those banks make manipulating that $5.3 trillion foreign exchange market? I don't know! No one seems to care. The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority says 'that it is not practicable to quantify the financial benefit' that each bank got from its manipulations; the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency don't even acknowledge that the question might be interesting."

So that's how the US is handling criminality by some of the largest and most predatory corporations in the US and the world today.

Compare the US to Iceland, a country that responded to the same banking crisis of 2008 by jailing its top bankers. This past February, Iceland's Supreme Court upheld the convictions and sentences of four top executives of Kaupthing Bank, one of the country's biggest financial institutions. Those bankers are will now be serving four-to-five-year sentences for their felonies, at least if they want to ever return to Iceland. A number of other Iceland bankers, including top executives of three of the country's top banks, were convicted earlier and sentenced to prison terms.

Here's the thing. If the government really believes that banks like JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and Wells Fargo are "too big to fail" because prosecuting their chief executives -- or even forcing their chief executives to quit their posts! -- could lead to a new financial crisis (a claim that seems totally absurd), then those institutions are simply too big to allow to exist.

And there is a simple answer to that: break the damned things up! It's not as if these huge banks are responsible for running the US economic engine by lending money to businesses and the public. In fact, they are not doing that at all. Mostly, they are taking free money from the Federal Reserve and gambling with it, not lending it, and are putting smaller banks that actually do lend money out of business. We'd be better of if each of these huge banks became ten smaller independent banks that would have to behave like banks, and that wouldn't have the outsize power of banks that are bigger than entire countries.

The idea that certain companies and their executives and owners are simply beyond prosecution whatever their crimes is intolerable. It should be intolerable not just in a supposed "democracy," but in any county.

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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)
 

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