It is [hard] to sue a big bank and win; ask your favorite lawyer about this. Big banks can more easily hold onto their customers despite so obviously treating them as cannon fodder (take this up with the people who manage your retirement funds). Big banks spend crazy amounts on political lobbying – even right after being saved by the government (chapter and verse on this in 13 Bankers.)
When you really do want to take on megabanks through the courts – and have found the right legal theory and compelling lines of enquiry – they will threaten to collapse or just contract credit.
No auto dealer has this power. No Savings and Loan could ultimately stand against the force of law – roughly 2,000 S&Ls went out of business and around 1,000 people ended up in jail after the rampant financial fraud of the 1980s.
We should not exaggerate the extent to which we really have equality before the law in the United States. Still, the behavior and de facto immunity of the biggest banks is out of control.
These huge banks will behave better only when and if their executives face credible criminal penalties. This simply cannot happen while these banks are anywhere near their current size.
Fortunately there is precisely zero evidence that we need banks anywhere near their current size – we document this at length in 13 Bankers (in fact, this was a major motivation for writing the book).
Break up the big banks before they do even more damage.
---Simon Johnson, The Baseline Scenario, 4/19 (my itallics)
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