In the last few weeks a number of banks have paid huge fines for various malfeasance. The news today was that UBS will pay $1.5 billion to US regulators for rigging the LIBOR interest rate. The British bank Barclays paid a $450 million fine in June as part of the LIBOR scandal, and both Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank are negotiating fines with American and British bank regulators. Just a few weeks ago, HSBC was fined $1.92 billion for laundering Mexican drug cartel money. Standard Chartered Bank was fined $327 million for money laundering in Africa and Asia. And this summer ING Bank agreed to pay $619 million to settle charges that they traded with foreign countries in violations of US trade sanctions.
When conservatives argue against regulating banks and financial institutions they imply, if not outright suggest, that bankers are a particularly noble group of people. They are princes among men. Indeed they are, if he princes we are talking about are from the Italian City states of the Renaissance. They are as greedy and rapacious as the Borgia, as malevolent and malicious as the Medici.