Again, that seems unlikely right now, but the uncertainty is huge, as you can see from the fact that places like The Economist are quoting experts about possible bailouts. It’s not like people trust the banks’ books anyway. As Jonathan Weil points out, Barclays “trades for a mere 37 percent of its common shareholder equity, which shows that investors believe most of its 55.6 billion pounds of book value is fictional.”

The legal liability will all take years to sort out, and the revelations and settlements with regulators seem just to have begun.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.