On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that JPMorgan has agreed to a $13 billion dollar settlement over the fraudulent sale of mortgage backed securities. But, that settlement is a fraud in and of itself. Four billion dollars of that figure was actually part of a settlement announced a month earlier, and the rest can hardly be considered a penalty against the big bank. Almost half of the remaining $9 billion will go to so-called “mortgage relief,” which will be distributed over four years by an independent monitor. That brings the actual settlement amount down to $5.4 billion dollars, even before the bank writes off the total amount against their taxes.
If they're able to write off even half of the settlement, that knocks off at least another $2.6 billion, which means JPMorgan will actually pay only $2.74 billion dollars after defrauding investors out of more than ten times that amount. This settlement isn't a punishment, it's simply a cost of doing business for the too-big-to-fail financial giant. The only good news that came out of the deal is that the Justice Department did not exempt the bank from criminal charges, and an ongoing investigation could lead to more severe penalties.
The fact is, however, even in the face of criminal charges, it's unlikely that we'll see any banksters going to jail. The DOJ will simply take on more fines, and JPMorgan will get to continue operating. It's time to really hold the banksters accountable. The degenerate gamblering on Wall Street won't stop until someone starts putting CEOs behind bars.
The Thom Hartmann Program weekdays 3 PM to 6 PM on WWRL 1600.