Both German Deutsche Bank and Swiss Credit Suisse are settling charges with the United States government over their involvement in fraud in the mortgage market, which led to the 2008 financial crisis.
The U.S.-based banking firms have collectively already paid over $100 billion for their criminal activities related to the financial crisis. The European banks have dragged out negotiations to the end of the Obama Administration in what appears to be a conscious strategy to get the best deal.
Deutsche Bank will pay a $7.2 billion fine and Credit Suisse will pay a $5.28 billion fine. The details undercut the headline number as much of the fines will be paying back customers. Only $3 billion of Deutsche’s settlement and only $2 billion of Creduit Suisse’s settlement will be paid to the government.
The final settlement for Deutsche Bank is considerably lower than initial proposed figure, which at one point was $14 billion and threatened the bank’s survival.
The only holdout, in what will likely be the final legal issue over criminal activity leading to the 2008 financial crisis, is British-based Barclays. Barclays is currently being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for mortgage securities fraud, in what seems to be another attempt at a multi-billion dollar settlement.
Barclays has signaled that, at least for now, there is no deal. “Barclays will vigorously defend the complaint and seek its dismissal at the earliest opportunity,” the bank said in a statement.
So, here we are. Almost a decade has passed since the financial crisis and after some relatively small fines, the global banking industry is the same as it ever was. On some level, the resiliency of the power structures of neoliberalism are impressive; governments working for the interests of the banks and their shareholders have managed a serious crisis caused by reckless greed and criminality well enough to leave the same fleecing class in place in very much the same exact institutions.
But given the ill-will and populist backlash both in the United States and Europe, one is forced to wonder if the system could survive another crash without collapsing entirely.