From this Thursday's The Daily Show, guest host John Oliver took Wall Street and the SEC to task for allowing one after the other of these big banks to avoid any real criminal or civil liability for crashing the global economy.
OLIVER: But first, we start tonight with memories. Who remembers what Wall Street bankers turned our financial system into a free-wheeling sub-prime casino, precipitating a global economic crash, in which all our money disappeared? Do you remember? Yeah. I remember that too. Well guess what? The chickens are finally coming home to roost.
Or maybe not. After going through a list of some recent reports on these banks and what looked like they might finally be held accountable for their actions, Oliver discovered that he might have been celebrating a bit too soon.
With one bank after another being allowed to settle and for a pittance of their cost of doing business, rather than anyone going to jail, Oliver made this observation:
OLIVER: Is this really any surprise though? Every time regulators go after Wall Street, it always ends the same way. […]
Settled. So it seems Wall Street regulation is really just like the Middle East peace process. No one goes to jail and it all ends with a bunch of half-assed settlements that seem to make everyone angry. So we might not get the emotional closure of having them admit what they did, or the physical closure of watching them go to jail, so how about some financial justice? Can we at least hit them where it hurts?
Apparently not with the likes of Goldman Sachs who paid what amounted to a whole three days of their revenue in a recent settlement. Oliver went on to hit the regulators for pretending that these fines were actually meaningful, and then shared with the audience one of the few cases that did end up with someone winding up in court.
OLIVER: The settlement terms for these bankers are pretty attractive. It's frankly no wonder that no one wants to have their day in court. Well, almost no one.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: A jury has decided that a former Wall Street trader should pay for his role in the toxic mortgage crisis that was such a big part of the financial meltdown. He is Fabrice Tourre, a 34-year-old French-born former Goldman Sachs trader.
SANJAY GUPTA: He calls himself Fabulous Fab.
OLIVER: What? Fabulous Fab? You think you're in Cirque du Soleil? And I do hope you checked the drag queen registration website to see if that name was even available at the moment. And frankly, I did not know that you were even allowed to pick your own nickname. No one told me that was an option. So, with that in mind, from now on, you may address me as Jokemaster Johnny Fresh. Yes. Actually, you know what? That's a bit of a mouthful. Let's go with Juicy Johnny. No, I take that back, that's too sexy. I've got it; Carlos Danger! You know, that name is available, he's promised he's not using it anymore. Still, I guess we have at least one guy. And, he's a vice president. So even if we didn't take down the company, we got the #2. What?
LOU DOBBS: Goldman Sachs vice president — and by the way, they've got about 12,000 of them over there....
OLIVER: Holy sh*t! 12,000 vice presidents! All presumably with different ridiculous nicknames. Apparently, you can't walk into Goldman and throw a pen without hitting a vice president. 'Cause even if you hit the janitor, you'll be hitting the Vice President in charge of Urinal Cakes — or as he insists on being called, Scrubtastic Steve.
But at least Fabulous Fabrice is going to jail. Right?
KAYLA TAUSCHE: A jury found former Goldman trader Fabrice Tourre liable on 6 of 7 civil counts for fraud. ... He does face fines and a potential lifetime ban from the securities industry.
OLIVER: A lifetime ban from the securities industry! Shouldn't he have to at least stay 1,000 feet away from Wall Street? And introduce himself door-to-door whenever he moves to any town that has a bank? [...]
You know what the perfect analogy for this is? Our financial regulatory system is like Fifty Shades of Grey. You can't hurt them, because they like it, and we just keep getting f**ked.