On Thursday night the Justice Department announced it would not be prosecuting Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs or its employees for financial fraud.
In an unsigned statement the department said id conducted an exhaustive investigations of allegations that Goldman marketed four sets complex mortgage securities to banks and other investors but that the firm failed to disclose the risks associated with them and that the firm secretly bet against the investors’ positions and deceived the investors’ about its own positions to shift risk from Goldman to their clients.
It’s a disappointing end but not all that surprising. The Department of Justice seems inherently incapable of prosecuting Wall Street, even in the face of a mountain of evidence that Goldman thought its own products were “junk.”
Which means the only way this culture of greed changes is if Congress takes bold action. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse have already proposed a bill that would break up the big banks, and this is the natural place to start.
Of course, a bill like that only gets through Congress if voters demand it does, and the easiest, most direct way for voters to do so is by voting in candidates committed to financial reform. And the only way to make that happen is by making sure those candidates are not drowned out by corporate dollars, which means getting serious about campaign finance reform.
Yes, it’s a long shot, but yet another failure to prosecute Wall Street shows that there really is no other choice.
Photo from ChairWomanMay via flickr.