It is August, and today was another quiet summer Friday on Wall Street. There were no bank failures tonight.
I haven’t been writing much about banks’ legal troubles this year, but that is only because the daily stories of civil charges, indictments, proceedings, settlements, and sentences are too much, too frequent, to expect anyone who is not an insider to try to follow. You get a clearer picture if you take a step back and view the legal action in terms of trends. Legal action against banks and shadow banking companies is, if anything, still gaining momentum. Regulators and prosecutors seem to be collecting more documents that point more definitively to improper behavior. Banks’ collective accounting charges for their future legal obligations are increasing, as the billions they pay to settle the few cases that have reached that stage are smaller than the sums they expect to have to pay over the next couple of years.