Last week, Elizabeth Warren had another one of those moments that reminds all of us who want justice and accountability for Wall Street, and unrigged financial markets for the rest of us, why she is our hero. She was once again asking pesky questions of regulators about the $13 billion settlement with JP Morgan Chase that resulted in an ecstatic JPM board giving CEO Jamie Dimon a 75 percent raise -- asking the questions all the rest of us were pondering... like how, if this was such a good settlement for the Department of Justice, why were the JPM kingpins dancing in the streets about it.
And yesterday, Wall Street watchdog Better Markets announced its lawsuit against DOJ and Attorney General Eric Holder for that same settlement. Dennis Kelleher, the group's president and CEO, decried the government's secretive dealings with Dimon as "violations of the Constitution, the separation of powers, the failure of checks and balances."
The Undercurrent has a new video out covering the Better Markets presser, and adding in a clip from Sen. Warren's discussion of the very serious questions raised by the settlement. If you care about why DOJ and other government agencies never bring the Too Big To Fail bankers to trial, why they are never brought to justice or have their power reined in, it is worth spending the time to look at Kelleher and Sen. Warren talking about these issues:
Let me just note that I have a number of friends and allies who don't think the settlement was as bad as Kelleher or Warren, including NY AG Eric Schneiderman, who was involved in the settlement. They argue that $13 billion was far more than we have ever gotten in a banking settlement, that an amount that large will make the big bank execs think twice before committing bank fraud again, and that the money will really help people who have been hurt economically over the last several years. I respect their point of view, and am glad that DOJ got more out of JPM than anyone has ever gotten out of a bank -- a result that I am firmly convinced happened only because progressive activists and leaders like Warren made the lack of Wall Street accountability such a huge issue. But this settlement on balance has some seriously troubling issues. The secrecy is fundamentally wrong; the lack of judicial review is outrageous and frankly un-American; the idea that neither the company nor any of its senior executives has been forced to go to trial remains a travesty; and the fact that JPM is celebrating by giving Dimon a 75 percent raise is the ultimate sign that this deal was inadequate in every way.
If Abraham Lincoln were around today, I think he would be saying that this nation's democracy will not long endure an economy and a government run so completely on behalf of Wall Street that the rule of law no longer applies. When you break laws -- hugely significant laws -- over and over again, and those crimes result in harm to millions of people, there should be some justice applied. The fact that the justice has been so inadequate to the crime is a deep and fundamental failure. This settlement should not be allowed to stand. We need a big change moment at this point in American history, and we need it now.
Eric Holder has been Jamie Dimon's (and other Wall Street CEOs') bird in the hand for too long. DOJ needs to stop cutting secretive, inadequate deals with Wall Street moguls, and start doing some perp walks of CEOs. It is long past time to prosecute the high flying criminals who live on Wall Street.