Friday, December 28, 2012 13:28
Media coverage fails to connect bankers’ crimes to harm done to society
When most mainstream media outlets discuss conspiracy theories, it is usually to debunk the views of dissenting and critical thinkers who are routinely denounced as simplistic, paranoid, or worse.
You have frequently seen the mantra questioning their motives and conclusions as if the idea of people or officials acting together covertly to advance their interests in illegal ways is something new in history.
If the law doesn’t apply equally to everybody, then you don’t really have a system of law.
Until recently, U.S. press outlets characterized conspiracy arguments as rants that lacked any factual basis, engaged in guilt by association and stretched the facts.
The only conspiracy charges they tended to look at uncritically were criminal complaints against the Mafia under anti-racketeering statutes like the RICO statutes. Prosecutors loved these cases because normal concerns with protecting the rights of defendants didn’t apply when hearsay evidence was permitted.
But now, four years after the financial crisis, prosecutors have finally discovered what critics have been alleging repeatedly: that big banks were crooks, engaging, among other illicit practices, in secretive, illegal, and conspiratorial schemes to rig baseline interest rates and manipulate credit markets.
It has now been admitted that traders at two major financial institutions were fixing LIBOR—the London Interbank Offered Rate, used to set the interest rates of $800 trillion worth of financial products, including credit cards and mortgages.
That figure again: $800 trillion!
The banks: Barclays and UBS. At first, regulators got them to agree to pay fines in so-called “settlements,” which are viewed by these institutions as a cost of doing business.
Barclays shelled out $450 million, but UBS went further paying a whopping $1.5 billion fine, to be split between the United States, the U.K., and Switzerland. They also admitted to fraud and bribery. (Usually banks settle such complaints without any admission of responsibility).