In an otherwise boring Senate Banking Committee hearing this morning (full of empty phrases like "let me get back you" and "I'll have to check on that"), Elizabeth Warren asked a pointed question: How many of the officials there had actually taken a Wall Street firm to trial? The few people who responded to her question skirted it, until Warren pressed them harder on the issue to discover what we all knew was the case: zero.
Since trials force far more information to surface than settlements do, the public would better understand what's going on in these Wall Street firms if the Wall Street firms went to trial. But because we haven't had any trials, the info remains undisclosed.
Warren summed up her position by saying, "I'm concerned that too big to fail has become too big to take to trial."
And that's the problem, exactly. So long as Wall Street firms avoid trial simply because of their size, we have a two-tiered justice system. Until Congress and government officials feel the pressure to change the status quo, the best hope for reforming this unethical system is for citizens to proactively switch from a megabank to a local lender. Otherwise, the unethical behavior will continue and will eventually spill over and affect all of us once again in the form of another fiscal fiasco.
UPDATE: We wrote this post right after watching the hearing live, and upon review it looks we got Sen. Warren's quote slightly incorrect (though the meaning is the exact same). Here is the video, with the exact quote.
Okay, we've got multiple people here. Anyone else want to tell me about the last time you took a Wall Street bank to trial? [No response.] You know, I just want to note on this: There are district attorneys and US attorneys who are out there everyday squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to "make an example," as they put it. I'm really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial.