“Six U.S. agencies, a congressional committee and four state regulators, not to mention Canada, three European countries and the European Commission, are investigating JPMorgan Chase & Co. The bank’s litigation expenses hit $1 billion in the first half of this year, and the bank says its legal losses could reach $6.8 billion.
“So shareholders are furious, right? Nope. JPMorgan’s shares have risen 35 percent in the past year, more than twice the 17 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Part of the reason has to be that $6.8 billion isn’t much for a bank that’s on track to make $23 billion this year.
“Which leads to two questions: Five years after the global economy was sucker-punched by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., has the U.S. done enough to prevent financial companies from breaking the law? If not, what else can it do to deter misconduct — and motivate shareholders to demand changes?
“For years, the Justice Department has been reluctant to punish large corporations for fear of driving them out of business. (Remember Arthur Andersen LLP?) The department has instead relied on so-called deferred prosecutions, which usually involve signed promises not to misbehave and the acceptance of on-site monitors to check on compliance.”
Read full Bloomberg editorial here