Home » OPINION » Editorials » From "too big to fail" to too big to jail?

From "too big to fail" to too big to jail?

wallstreetAmerica’s banking crisis may be receding into history but not so the desire of everyday Americans to bring the perpetrators of the criminally induced collapse to justice.

While those behind rigging the system for their own benefit may never be forced to account for their actions, the reason why they are getting off free could bring the nation a huge benefit.

The federal government, the Obama administration in particular, is conceding that sending the perps to jail could endanger the economic stability not only of the United States but the rest of the word.

The institutions for which the wrongdoers work are too big to fail and – by the Obama administration’s logic – the men and women who run them are too big to jail.

These aren’t our words. They come directly from the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder’s admission came at a Senate banking hearing in Washington. Hardly anyone in the media noticed, however.

Back here in Mississippi, our bankers probably noticed but shrugged with resignation and a comment like, “So tell me something new.”

Bankers in Jackson, Biloxi, Meridian, Southaven and elsewhere in the state can’t get too worked up about the “stay out of jail” pass granted execs of the nation’s giant banks. They’ve got their hands full trying to comply with all the new federal rules and regulations that followed the shredding of our banking system by the Wall Street fraudsters who first peddled toxic mortgage assets and then made bets those assets would sink like a dead whale.

Veteran U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, drew the too-big-to-jail concession out of General Holder during the hearing.

Some of these banks are so big they can be as crooked as the day is long but it’s best to let them be, General Holder — our nation’s chief law enforcement officer — said in so many words.

“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,” General Holder said. “I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.”

Call them the “Untouchables.”

That’s what PBS’ “Frontline” did recently when it aired an important episode detailing wrongdoing by the heads of our nation’s giant banks and the Justice Department’s pampering of the offenders. The prosecutor General Holder hired to do the pampering, Washington insider Lanny Breuer, quit a day or so after the show aired, leaving behind a record of zero prosecutions of some of the most notorious white collar criminals in U.S. history.

Now the Justice Department feels the heat.

It’s not from the Obama White House, which put its leniency policy in place soon after taking over in 2008. Now, the newly re-elected President has virtually put a moat around the big banks to protect them from advocates of breaking up the Wall Street giants. However, General Holder’s admission of “too big to prosecute” may have created just the bridge supporters of an adequately and fairly policed banking system can use to cross the moat and start some over-due disassembling.

General Holder’s admission at the Senate at the hearing now forces President Obama and his policy makers to answer this simple question: If a bank being too big to fail makes its bankers too big to jail no matter how grievous their crimes, would not it make sense to make the bank smaller?


… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

Click for more info

About MBJ Staff

One comment

  1. Too Big to Jail, Eric Holders unwise comments will now send this country into true anarchy. Those small or medium banks should fold while they are ahead. They can not survive without the economic advantage of performing financial fraud knowing they are free from prosecution.

Leave a Reply