I strongly considered not even remarking on the “news” that the long-silent Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) working group, the vaunted task force that would finally and definitively bring accountability to the perpetrators of the financial crisis, would soon, really this time, announce major actions. If you want to announce something, go ahead and announce it. This string-along is really embarrassing. Anyway, it’s been 8 months since the task force was put together, and the lack of movement has pretty much sealed the expectations on the part of myself and other observers that it will amount to little if anything. I would also advise everyone to look at the calendar, which is driving everything these days, from here to Europe. The goal, transparently, is to announce something that will look like accountability in October, maybe well-timed for right before the first Presidential debate or something.
The vagueness of all this, inspired entirely by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman giving an interview to Reuters, also gives away the strategy.
Schneiderman, a co-chair of the task force, would not say whether cases would be brought against individuals or financial institutions. He also would not comment on whether criminal charges would be filed.
But he said his office would take action and that he expected his federal counterparts on the task force to do so as well.
“We’ll see actions being taken sooner rather than later,” said Schneiderman, speaking in an interview at his office in New York.
This is hysterical: “History will show the working group acted pretty quickly given the circumstances… The important thing is to see results and then continued results … (that) we don’t just have one or two cases and then this peters out.”
Eight months with no criminal subpoenas, no headquarters, and no court filings is considered “pretty quickly.” Mm-hm.
As is perfectly clear by now, there is no new task force. It consists of a compendium of existing investigations coordinated at a central clearinghouse, designed so people like Schneiderman can take credit for any action taken against financial fraud in the next couple years. They have released press statements taking credit for Libor, and I’m sure they’ll take credit for stopping loan modification fraud, the penny-ante schemes of criminals stealing from desperate borrowers seeking help with their homes. That’s all important to police, but it has nothing to do with their central concern, which has been prosecuting those who caused the financial crisis. And that’s just plainly not going to happen.
Wake me when something legitimate comes along.