The following post was prompted by the New York Times article linked below.
Another bunch of banks pay billions in total fines and penalties for illegal activities. Should we feel comforted that the system of financial protections is working?
That no one would seem to be actually going to jail on this latest set of bad behavior, or that this comes on the heels of previous (in 2012) bad behavior ought to argue in the negative for such conclusions. You also have to wonder why, after paying what might seem a lot to us in fines, they always seem to return to working whatever angle they can to maximize profits.
When I wonder about this sort of thing I am always quite astonished at the lack of context we are provided with. Great emphasis is placed on big sounding numbers levied as fines, but you hardly ever hear exactly how much was actually stolen via the scheme. Seems to me that such extra information would be very helpful in determining just how much sting the penalties were actually dishing out. But that's just me.
Perhaps the reason they keep doing this is simply the fact that these are just quite naughty men and women who can't control themselves. Anything is possible after all, though I have to doubt any significant probability in that particular case.
UBS to Pay Over $500 Million in Fines for Manipulating Currencies and Libor