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$130 Billion is No Problem for Too-Big-to-Fail Financial Insitutions

Richard Collings
Michael Brown
9/19/14 4:23 PM EDT
While the Federal Reserve and other regulators have imposed more than $130 billion in fines against too-big-to-fail financial institutions, industry observers see the punishment to be a short-term blip, despite the gravity of the offenses and outcry from consumers. Bank of America on August 21st announced it had agreed to pay $16.5 billion in fines relating to bad mortgages it sold before the financial crisis, the largest penalty levied against a financial institution connected to the housing crisis. The fine brings Bank of America’s total tab for the financial crisis to just under $75 billion, almost tripling the $27.1 billion coughed up by its domestic peer JPMorgan Chase & Co., the second largest payer of punitive fines. While a $75 billion—or even a $27 billion—pay out is enough to put most businesses out of operation, the fines are apparently inconsequential for Bank of America and JPMorgan. Part of the issue is the nature of the fines which are being described as “soft money”—meaning it isn’t cash paid out of the banks’ pockets. The other softening blow is that while even some of these banks may have acquired failing financial institutions or bad mortgage products—in some cases at the government’s behest—the firms still gained access to new businesses that can be profitable over the long term.
Stock quotes in this video: BAC, JPM, C, MS, GS

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