Our question last October, posed by James Lieber: “When Do We Go After the Crooks Behind Our Financial Collapse?” Now we know the answer: Never.
Why aren’t you more pissed off? Why is this story being underplayed?
Barack Obama’s wimp-out on the probe of AIG’s Joseph Cassano means that the chief culprits of Wall Street’s ’08 meltdown are almost surely off the hook.
It was Cassano whose London unit of AIG wrecked the mother company. And that led to the taxpayers’ $180 billion bailout. Lieber did a great job for us in explaining the meltdown and the lack of pursuit of Cassano and other culprits.
But in our system, you could argue (and the Street’s lawyers do) that Cassano didn’t do anything illegal — capitalism happens. Same with the other goniffs. Just as I pointed out last month: “SEC Sues Goldman Sachs for Being Goldman Sachs.”
Still, these people are despicable motherfuckers. Earlier this spring, Matt Taibbi memorably described Cassano as . . .
. . . just a greedy little turd with a knack for selective accounting who ran his scam right out in the open, thanks to Washington’s deregulation of the Wall Street casino.
“Outrageous but legal,” as Damien Hoffman puts it, adding:
This is another classic case of the criminals being 10 steps ahead of the police.
Also, this raises a much more important issue: when extremely harmful or completely unethical behavior is exceptionally creative or cutting edge, it may not yet be deemed illegal.
So, in this case, there were $1,000 an hour lawyers toiling more than 24 hours a day to abet destructive behavior. This is completely identical to the nifty off balance sheet scams engineered by Enron. As we speak, armies of the brightest legal minds are pouring over the new Financial Regulation Bills in order to help another savvy client do the same.
CNN’s David Ellis explains why there won’t be any Wall Street perp walks — except for the ones in which the perps walk to their limos.
This is only the latest bailout of Wall Street’s wrecking crew.