Since the Wall Street meltdown of 2009, there has been quite a bit of speculation concerning the cause of the meltdown. One thing that is certain is that banks were pushing exorbitant loans beyond the means of consumers.
Most of the information on that point is that while banks should have known better than give expensive loans- backed by the American tax payer-to consumers, banks did nothing deceptive. For example, according to a story by Hugh Son, Dawn Kopecki and Donal Griffin of Bloomberg News "BofA May Face HUD Fraud Claims for Soured Countrywide Loans":
Bank of America Corp. should face fraud proceedings after its Countrywide unit submitted faulty data to back up claims for reimbursement on federally insured mortgages...
“Countrywide did not properly verify, analyze, or support borrowers’ employment and income, source of funds to close, liabilities and credit information,” Kelly [Anderson, compliance auditor] wrote in the audit. “This noncompliance occurred because Countrywide’s underwriters did not exercise due diligence in underwriting the loans.”
That viewpoint, however, that all it was only a lack of diligence but not malfeasance, may not be entirely correct. As Michael Hudson writes in "Countrywide protected fraudsters by silencing whistleblowers, say former employees":
By intercepting the documents before they were sliced by the shredder, the investigators were able to uncover what they believed was evidence that branch employees had used scissors, tape and Wite-Out to create fake bank statements, inflated property appraisals and other phony paperwork. Inside the heaps of paper, for example, they found mock-ups that indicated to investigators that workers had, as a matter of routine, literally cut and pasted the address for one home onto an appraisal for a completely different piece of property.
Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi also wrote a great article called, simply and appropriately enough: "Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?". I have included Mr. Taibbi's introduction to his article because it is probably the best piece of writing I have seen in a decade:
Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. ...
This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.
That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back
So far, no one, not the FBI, US Trustee, US Attorneys' Office, nor the Obama Justice Department has thought of doing anything more than starting civil proceedings against big banks and Wall Street. But considering the damage these bad loans did, and the fact the American consumer had to rescue them, why shouldn't criminal charges be in order?
The Wall Street meltdown was the most destructive event since the September 11 attacks. Why shouldn't our nation's response be just as purposeful? If the Obama Administration won't do anything, maybe there is a state attorney general who will step in and do what the federal government isn't willing to. What I am thinking of is how Eliot Spitzer, New York Attorney General in 2001, investigated Wall Street and Merrill Lynch when the Bush Administration was unwilling to do so ("Eliot Spitzer: Wall Street's Top Cop").
Wall Street would never be the same. Spitzer opened an investigation that in just a few months began fundamentally reshaping America's financial markets. Analysts, Spitzer would show, were doctoring their reports--which the public relies on for stock information--to win business for their banks' investment arms or to downgrade companies that didn't play ball.
Is there anyone in America willing to take on Wall Street crimes? Sadly, so far the answer is no.