The Year of Bank Prosecutions

In a new piece in Slate, here, I describe how "Fines in the millions and billions of dollars made headlines again and again in 2015, as the Department of Justice set new records in prosecutions of wrongdoing corporations."  Below is a figure showing the dramatic rise in corporate penalties imposed by federal prosecutors.  What I describe in this piece is where much of the corporate prosecution penalties in 2015 came from: how "what was different in 2015 was that so much of the money paid by corporate targets came from banks: almost $7 billion of the $9 billion in total penalties paid by prosecuted companies." Do these cases answer concerns that financial institutions have been "too big to jail"?  They show that banks can be prosecuted, and in large numbers, and paying record fines.  Whether individuals will be held accountable in these cases and whether meaningful changes will occur at the banks to reduce recidivism---that is another question entirely.