Hold banks to account for their role in crisis
Three years ago this week, the financial system came unhinged. In rapid-fire succession, one major financial institution after another crumpled as years of recklessness on Wall Street and regulatory neglect in Washington took their toll. Before it was over, the federal government had committed trillions of dollars to bail out the nation's largest banks and the economy was in tatters, with gnawing questions remaining about what went wrong and who was responsible. The unraveling had dire consequences. Twenty-four million Americans are unemployed or unable to find full-time work, with wages as a share of gross domestic product at the lowest level since the 1930s. Meanwhile, the banks barely skipped a beat, with compensation at publicly traded Wall Street firms reaching a record $135 billion in 2010. Sadly, there has been too little progress made so far in fixing our financial system so that it works for all Americans, not just the titans of finance, and there have been few consequences for those who drove our economy over the cliff. To turn the page, we must vigorously pursue financial wrongdoing to deter future malfeasance and seek just compensation for those who were harmed by violations of law. This isn't about settling scores; it's about righting wrongs and learning the lessons of history.