The wealthy criminal class

I’m currently reading a book, Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption and the Hijacking of America
by Charles H. Ferguson, the maker of “Inside Job,” the outstanding documentary movie about the Wall Street crash.

Ferguson says that the financial crises, such as the housing bubble, are the result of criminal behavior which has gone unpunished, and until people who commit crimes are sent to prison, like Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken and Charles Keating in an earlier era, the situation will not improve.  This sounds like a radical statement, but he backs up his assertions with facts and examples.

It makes me wonder about the point of the Dodd-Frank Act, which grants the government new regulatory powers, when the Bush and Obama administrations refused to use the legal authority they have.

I will post about the book when I have finished it, and digested its conclusions.  Meanwhile you can click on The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia, by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, for an example of what Ferguson was talking about.  Taibbi reported how big banks cheated American municipal and county governments out of billions of dollars by rigging bids on bond issues.  Even when they are exposed, they get off with token civil penalties, not criminal charges.  This is big news.

It is not quite right to refer to “Wall Street” banks, because that implies that the wrongdoers are all American.  This is not the case.   The practices of worst British, German and Swiss banks are at least as bad as the big U.S. banks.

“Wealthy criminal class” is an expression used by Theodore Roosevelt when he was President in the first decade of the 20th century.

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