While that big number in 1995 was due to the S&L crisis, it’s awfully revealing to see barely a blip from 2007 to 2010.
The Times is also excellent to point out things the Justice Department could prosecute if it wanted to:
Merrill Lynch, for example, understated its risky mortgage holdings by hundreds of billions of dollars. And public comments made by Angelo R. Mozilo, the chief executive of Countrywide Financial, praising his mortgage company’s practices were at odds with derisive statements he made privately in e-mails as he sold shares; the stock subsequently fell sharply as the company’s losses became known.
Executives at Lehman Brothers assured investors in the summer of 2008 that the company’s financial position was sound, even though they appeared to have counted as assets certain holdings pledged by Lehman to other companies, according to a person briefed on that case. At Bear Stearns, the first major Wall Street player to collapse, a private litigant says evidence shows that the firm’s executives may have pocketed revenues that should have gone to investors to offset losses when complex mortgage securities soured.
Add Ameriquest to this list (this is where you really should read Michael Hudson’s excellent book The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America—and Spawned a Global Crisis)
I thought I’d gotten jaded the last few years. Not jaded enough, apparently.
Fantastic work by Morgenson, Story, and the Times.