“Too big to fail has become too big for trial”

Susie Madrak has been following new-elected US Senator Elizabeth Warren’s performance at the first meeting of the Senate Banking Committee and says she proved her worth by putting regulators on the spot about why they go aggressively after powerless defendants while allowing big banks to make deals with them by paying fines that are just included as the cost of doing business and do nothing to deter future wrongdoing.

Warren makes the good point that going to trial provides more than a verdict. By bringing a big bank to trial, the way they operate is brought into the open, which is why banks are only too happy to make such deals.

Madrak has a follow-up report where she says that the banks are angry that Warren said mean things about them.

Imagine that.

After the banking sector and their allies in the Republican party refused to allow her to become head of the Consumer Financial Protection Board and then poured huge amounts of money to her opponent Scott Brown’s campaign in Massachusetts, they are now upset that she is doing what she campaigned on and what her supporters expect.

It just demonstrates how used they have become to deferential treatment.

Meanwhile Stephen Colbert had a good discussion on this same topic with business journalist David Leonhardt.

(This clip was aired on February 14, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)


  1. gridironmonger says

    What I found amazing [sort of, see below] is that some of these regulators could not say when the last time they took a large institution to trial. They know Warren is on the committee, they know this is the issue which made her a household name, this would have been an obvious question to prepare for.

    However, I suspect they knew very well when the last time they took a large institution to trial was, but did not want to say it aloud, on video, because they knew it would be the sound-bite of the week/month — and whoever gave a specific answer would the the whipping boy on this issue going forward. Because it has been so damned long.

  2. left0ver1under says

    Don’t forget what happened in 2003: The SEC got very upset because Eliot Spitzer was doing their job for them.


    Or rather, they weren’t doing their jobs at all. Wall street and those on the take at the SEC took great exception to his actions. It’s part of why the warrentless wiretaps were used on Spitzer’s phone.

    Spitzer’s sexual misconduct was wrong, but was a non-issue compared to the criminality going on at the SEC and on wall street.

  3. Dunc says

    You know the famous Getty quote: “If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem”? Well, when the bank owes $100 trillion, it’s everybody’s problem…

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