But why didn’t you say this at the time?

Robert Reich on Facebook:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in an interview published today that individual Wall Street executives should have been prosecuted for their actions leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, but that the U.S. Justice Department and other law-enforcement agencies focused instead on investigating or indicting entire firms. “A financial firm is of course a legal fiction; it’s not a person. You can’t put a financial firm in jail,” he said. “It would have been my preference to have more investigation of individual action, since obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm.”

Well, thank you Ben. But why didn’t you say this at the time? (Are you saying it now because you have a memoir coming out?) You were chairman of the Fed, for crying out loud. The Fed is a major bank regulator. Your voice would have put enormous pressure on the Justice Department to go after the individuals responsible. Yet you chose to remain silent. It’s been the silence of people in positions like yours that allowed Wall Street executives to escape all responsibility for the frauds they committed, which led to millions of people losing their jobs, homes, and savings. And now that the big banks are far bigger than they were then (in 2007 they had 25% of total bank assets, now they have 44%), it’s likely we’ll have another near meltdown because no one was held responsible for the last one.

I think Ben Bernanke had a responsibility when he was Fed chair to say publicly that bank executives should be held personally responsible for what occurred.

Well if he had said it at the time, it might have had consequences.

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