Saving Banks, Punishing Rewarding Bankers

“In Sweden, if you ask a union leader, “Are you afraid of new technology?’ they will answer, “No, I’m afraid of old technology.” The jobs disappear, and then we train people for new jobs. We won’t protect jobs. But we will protect workers.”

–Swedish minister for employment and integration, Ylva Johansson, quoted in, “The Robots are Coming, and Sweden is Fine”; The NYT (12/27/2017).

“President Obama had campaigned as a visionary, but he governed as a technocrat . . . He made too many compromises in the hope of appealing to a bipartisanship that was already dead. But his biggest mistake was to save the bankers along with the banks. After a financial crisis caused in part by fraud, not a single top Wall Street executive was brought to trial. The public wanted to punish the malefactors, but justice was never done.”

–“Ten Years After the Crash“; George Packer, The New Yorker (10/27/2018).

Leave it to Sweden to lead the way on forging an enlightened economic policy for the age of A.I., robots, and dizzying technological change generally (at least, if you’re over 15 years old).

Government’s mandate in such a world: “protect workers, not jobs.”

If only President Obama had employed a variant of that approach dealing with the aftermath of The 2008 Crash.

“Too Rich to Jail”

While Obama and The Fed were correct to save the banks, lest they take down the entire U.S. (and potentially global) economy, it was a singular political error not to punish egregious, fraudulent conduct by bankers (“banksters”).

Kind of hard to do when your all your senior financial advisors . . . are plucked directly from Wall Street.

Maureen Dowd connects the dots between then and now, with a nod to The New Yorker’s George Packer:

“It’s easy to see the neon line leading from Barack Obama’s failure to punish Wall Street scammers to the fact that Republican scammers are now infecting the entire infrastructure of government.

“The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street rose up as opposite expressions of anti-establishment rage, nourished by the sense that colluding elites in government and business had got away with a crime,” George Packer wrote in The New Yorker. “The game was rigged ” that became the consensus of the alienated.”

–“Too Rich to Jail“; Maureen Dowd, The NYT (11/19/2018).

Other Models

So, which countries got it right a decade ago?

Try, tiny Iceland which — relative to its economy — suffered an even bigger financial collapse . . . and responded by putting their corrupt bankers in prison.

Even better: Canada, which didn’t have to clean up its banks’ financial mess because — thanks to effective regulation — their banks were never allowed to create one.

See also, Drug Dealers vs. Bankers: “Top 10′ Differences“; and “A Financial Gettysburg Address: Redeeming the Crash.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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