Opacity, Fragility, and Power: Lessons from the Law Enforcement Response to the Financial Crisis
28 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2017 Last revised: 12 Mar 2018
Date Written: September 2, 2017
The Case for the Corporate Death Penalty, by Mary Kreiner Ramirez and Steven A. Ramirez, argues that the limited law enforcement response to the 2008 financial crisis represented an unprecedented failure of the rule of law. The book maintains that the weak law enforcement response was caused by the economic and political power of the largest financial institutions and those who run them. It concludes that the failure to vigorously prosecute the people for the crisis risks continued and even heightened crime in the financial industry.
This book review suggests that the concentration on prosecutions is misguided. There are good reasons for the limited prosecutorial response to the crisis. Better regulation, not more prosecutions, would best address the problems that led to the 2008 crisis.
Whether one favors a prosecutorial or regulatory response, however, The Case for the Corporate Death Penalty serves as a valuable contribution to understanding the financial crisis and the factors that contributed to it. The book introduces the reader to the history of white collar prosecutions in America, before providing a clear, well-written, and carefully-sourced tour of greed, recklessness, and fraud. For those who want to better understand how our financial system so nearly failed, or how it might happen again, this book is the place to start.
Keywords: Banks and Crime, Criminal Law, Financial Crisis, White Collar Prosecutions, Yates Memo
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