Public Enemy Number One: The Current Standing of Banks in the United States
Bruce Ortwine, Joint General Manager and General Counsel, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited, USA
Since the financial meltdown of 2008, highlighted by the Lehman Brothers collapse on September 15, the standing of banks in the United States has declined precipitously, with no current prospects for recovery. In fact, due to a number of reasons herein described, banks currently have as poor a reputation as they have had since the days of the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The current reality in the U.S. is that “everyone hates banks”—perhaps even more so than how much everyone hates politicians and lawyers. The hatred towards banks is one of the very few issues upon which everyone can agree—Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, small business owners and anti-capitalists. A consequence of this uniform hatred has been significantly increased bank regulation, as well as ever-more aggressive governmental enforcement actions and prosecutions against banks—with no end in sight—for practices that largely predated the 2008 financial meltdown, which have resulted in stiff penalties, including substantial monetary fines that are and will continue to be paid by bank customers, i.e., the American public, through higher fees and costs.
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