Robert Reich On Libor: Time To Demand Breakup Of The Big Banks

More on the Libor scandal, this time from Robert Reich, who explains what it really means for American investors. He says the time to scream for more bank reform is now: There are really two different Libor scandals. One has to do with a

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More on the Libor scandal, this time from Robert Reich, who explains what it really means for American investors. He says the time to scream for more bank reform is now:

There are really two different Libor scandals. One has to do with a period just before the financial crisis, around 2007, when Barclays and other banks submitted fake Libor rates lower than the banks’ actual borrowing costs in order to disguise how much trouble they were in. This was bad enough. Had the world known then, action might have been taken earlier to diminish the impact of the near financial meltdown of 2008.

But the other scandal is even worse. It involves a more general practice, starting around 2005 and continuing until – who knows? it might still be going on — to rig the Libor in whatever way necessary to assure the banks’ bets on derivatives would be profitable.

This is insider trading on a gigantic scale. It makes the bankers winners and the rest of us – whose money they’ve used for to make their bets – losers and chumps.

What to do about it, other than hope the Justice Department and other regulators impose stiff fines and even criminal penalties, and hold executives responsible?

When it comes to Wall Street and the financial sector in general, most of us suffer outrage fatigue combined with an overwhelming cynicism that nothing will ever be done to stop these abuses because the Street is too powerful. But that fatigue and cynicism are self-fulfilling; nothing will be done if we succumb to them.

The alternative is to be unflagging and unflinching in our demand that Glass-Steagall be reinstituted and the biggest banks be broken up. The question is whether the unfolding Libor scandal will provide enough ammunition and energy to finally get the job done.

He's right. There's very little news coverage of this issue, thanks to a far-too-compliant corporate media. The bad guys managed to lobby Congress enough to yank the teeth out of Dodd-Frank, insisting the vast majority of bankers were doing the right thing and that they shouldn't all be punished as a result.

Boy, that little dog-and-pony show sounds hollow now.

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