Well, today’s announcement that DoJ won’t bring charges against Goldman is depressing, though I think not unexpected:
“The department and investigative agencies ultimately concluded that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time,” the department said.
I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to comment on the issue of criminal liability, though what always concerns me in these sorts of situations is how quickly “there is no provable criminal liability” gets spun as “they did nothing wrong.”
But there is a bigger issue here, I think. What Goldman was doing was dicey, at best. They were creating and selling securities to people that they themselves considered “junk” and “crap.” What I find interesting is that most of the outrage about this comes from individuals (and some politicians), but not from the institutional investors who got screwed directly (the rest of us got screwed indirectly if our mutual fund managers were foolish enough to invest in those products — not to mention the broader, more severe, but even more indirect, costs of the financial crisis generally).
The reason I raise this point is that I can’t help but think there is some sort of exploitable cleavage here. The right is really, really adept at exploiting every seam. But for whatever reason, the “business” community largely sticks together, largely supports conservatives, even though in many, many cases the people more directly screwed over by things like financial sector borderline-criminal conduct are precisely businesses and other large financial institutions.
Thinking back a century ago, it wasn’t ordinary citizens alone who finally managed to push for regulation (particularly of monopolistic practices), it was also business interests that faced what they considered unfair practices.
The majority of the members of the Chamber of Commerce are getting screwed left and right by lack of transparency, price fixing, and a variety of dicey if not unlawful other practices. And yet, they, as a matter of tribal loyalty always seem to end up siding with their “Wall Street brothers.”
I don’t really know what to do about it, but American business votes against their own interests at least as much as the good people of Kansas about whom so much has been written.