His advice: "Don't be deterred by the finance industry's jargon (which is intended to numb your brain and keep regular folks from even trying to figure out what's going on."
Sixth, politicians and corporate lawyers fashioned settlements of abuses that were exposed rather than prosecutions.
The government benefited by getting large fines while businessmen avoided jail. When exposed, this led to practices such as the deliberate engineering of mortgages to fail" being written off as a cost of doing business.
Financial executives were often rewarded with bonuses and huge compensation for practices that skirted or crossed the line of criminality.
Intentional violations of the spirit and letter of laws were justified because "everyone does it" by high priced legal firms that often doubled as lobbyists. Conflicts of interest were sneered at. Judges, dependent on industry donations for reelection looked the other way.
Seventh , as the economy changed and industries that were once separated began working together, regulations were not changed. In A FIRE economy, financial institutions worked closely with Insurance companies and real estate firms. Yet law enforcement did not recognize this new reality.
Financial crime was still seen almost entirely under the framework of securities laws that are designed to protect investors, not workers or homeowners who suffered far more in the collapse. Cases are framed against individuals with a high standard of proving intent, not under RICO laws used to prosecute organized crime and conspiracies.
By defining crimes narrowly, prosecutions became few and far between, reports Reuters:
"Cases against Wall Street executives can be difficult to prove to the satisfaction of a jury because of the mind-numbing volume of emails, prospectuses, and memos involved in documenting a case."
Convicted financial criminal Sam Antar who appears in my film Plunder is contemptuous of how government tends to proceed in these cases, in part because they don't seem to understand how calculated these crimes and their cover-ups are. He told me. "Our laws--innocent until proven guilty, the codes of ethics that journalists like you abide by limit your behavior and give the white-collar criminal freedom to commit their crimes, and also to cover up their crimes.
"We have no respect for the laws. We consider your codes of ethics, and your laws, weaknesses to be exploited in the execution of our crimes. So the prosecutors, hopefully most prosecutors, are honest if they're playing by the set of the rules; they're hampered by the illegal constraints. The white-collar criminal has no legal constraints. You subpoena documents, we destroy documents; you subpoena witnesses, we lie. So you are at a disadvantage when it comes to the white-collared criminal. In effect, we're economic predators. We're serial economic predators; we impose a collective harm on society; time is always on our side, not on, not on the side of justice, unfortunately."
Eighth , even as the economy globalizes, and US financial firms spread their footprint worldwide, there was little internationalization of financial rules and regulations. Today, even as the French and the Germans propose such rules, Washington still opposes a tough and coordinated global regime of enforceable codes of conduct to insure ethical standards.
Overseas, in Greece and England, and other parts of Europe, there's been an indictment of American corporate predators, especially Goldman Sachs. They are being denounced as "financial terrorists" and discussed in terms of their links to various elite business formations like the Bilderberg Group.
Ninth , with the exception of a few polite inquiries by a softball Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, there has been no hard-hitting intensive investigation in the United States of these crimes. While Senator Levin of Michigan did spend a day aggressively grilling Goldman Sachs on one deceptive practice, their defense was more telling about the real nature of the problem: "everyone did it." (Almost ten times as much money was spent investigating Bill Clinton's sex scandal.)
The case for criminality has still not achieved critical mass as an issue or become a dominant explanation for why the economy collapsed.