The always-solid PBS documentary series Frontline recently broadcast a good overview — titled “The Untouchables” — about the evidence that big crimes were committed by big banks during the run-up to the 2008 financial meltdown and about the fact that not a single big bank executive faced a criminal prosecution. The tired-but-true gag says that the government views the big banks as both “too big to fail” and “too big to jail.”
Testifying to a Senate committee yesterday Attorney General Eric Holder all-but confirmed that it’s so. He was responding to questions from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) about a particular failure to prosecute, Holder said:
“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 you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,” he said. “And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.”
It would be good if he would state that more bluntly and suggest what he thinks should be done about it. That last bit suggests that he favors breaking up some big banks. Otherwise, he must favor letting them get away with criminal activity for the greater good.
Writing for AlterNet, Robert Borosage is among those who went into the question more deeply.