Dec 18 2012

UK memo to US media: our financial bad guys are badder than yours

Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts

I think that some elements in the U.S. media like to take a kind of twisted pride – if that’s the right word – in the ‘our bad guys are badder than yours’ sheer awfulness of Wall Street. And yes, it is truly godawful what has happened there over the years. Everyone knows it, and many are shouting from the rooftops.

But let me assure you, readers, that we Brits are head and shoulders above Wall Street when it comes to the tolerance for sheer criminality, corruption and offshore-styled financial recklessness. Really. One of the reasons it hasn’t been noticed so much is that there aren’t many prosecutions. And that’s because nobody in Britain wants to prosecute anything that involves the City. We love your dirty money, world, and with the help of our network of reassuringly British tax havens scattered across the world, we will cover up your crimes and abuses in order to get our hands on it. Read my last post on this.

Now take a look at this, from the always excellent US criminologist, Professor Bill Black:

“The FSA was the U.K.’s faux financial regulator during the run-up to the crisis.  The U.K. “won” the regulatory “race to the bottom” that destroyed effective regulation and supervision in the U.K. and Europe and helped degrade to near impotence in the U.S.  The FSA’s goal was to attract the world largest financial firms to relocate much of their operations to the City of London.  The FSA offered “light touch” (non) regulation and (non) supervision to firms operating in the City of London.  The results were the typical result – the City of London attracted the worst of the worst.

And, if anyone needed reminding:

“The newly designated head of the FSA decided to endorse the concept of “too big to prosecute.”

Mr Bailey told The Daily Telegraph that some banks had grown too large to prosecute. “It would be a very destabilising issue. It’s another version of too important to fail,” he said,

“Because of the confidence issue with banks, a major criminal indictment, which we haven’t seen and I’m not saying we are going to see… this is not an ordinary criminal indictment,” he said.”

I am outraged that there are not riots on the streets as a result of this. It makes you want to weep.

My memo to U.S. journalists: my bad guys really are badder than yours.

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