We Need a Broken Windows Policy for Wall Street

Chris Arnade, writing in the Atlantic, contends that the banking industry needs more than new regulation. It needs a new culture.

“The Dodd-Frank Act was a well-intentioned attempt to address the fundamental problems that contributed to the financial crisis [but] it was like building a sprawling glass house in a neighborhood filled with broken windows.”

“Since its passing in 2010, regulators have watched as the shiny new bill has been surrounded by the financial industries lawyers, lobbyists, and sympathetic politicians, and much of it either amended, reinterpreted, or whole parts rewritten to favor banks.”

“Frustrated, regulators have started to shift their focus, realizing that maybe the only way to regulate someone who thrives on ducking regulations is to bring something like broken-windows policing to Wall Street in hopes of changing its culture.”

“What is the financial equivalent of rounding up the squeegee men, graffiti artists, and those smoking joints in front of the police station? It means going after the easy targets, the transparent businesses where the abuses were well documented.”

Regulators “want to change the culture of permissiveness and to finally tend to long untended behavior, in the hope of affecting serious fundamental change.”

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