This is a good whodunit, with lots of gory detail on the process used by banks and their rich customers to cheat the public. What this piece lacks is a foundational perspective on how this larcenous web was created in the first place.
The chartering of banks and their subsequent regulation is a political process more than a market process. None of this can happen but what is designed into the system through political partnerships--partnerships that are always at the core of the founding of any new government.
Historically, it is as though a government cannot be allowed to exist without first making concessions to the bankers. These unholy partnerships, typically taking the form of central banks, can only lead to what you see today, with the tail wagging the dog. Modern presidential candidates from any party are vetted thoroughly by banking interests, and many (such as Mr. Clinton) are essentially corrupted before even taking the oath of office.
It should then be no surprise that many bankers are unscrupulous thieves. Trying to untangle the byzantine web of their illegal practices is interesting in an academic way, but not fruitful for the public. More useful would be to focus on the persistent connections between politicians and their bankers. Just between Mssrs. McCain and Obama, in the current election cycle, there is enough to keep a dozen investigative journalists busy uncovering these banking connections.
It's a fantasy to think we are going to prosecute any world bankers for past defrauds. It is not impossible, though, to bring sunlight directly down on the current candidates to make some attempt at breaking the historical connection between bank fraud and political fraud.
Jul 24 2008 - 10:35am