, Salem, MA


February 28, 2013

Watson: Difficult options for banking regulation


Another option is to put some bankers in jail. Since 2008, a number of guilty bankers, lenders and inside traders have reached “settlements” with the justice system, paying a fine and avoiding incarceration. Would the sight of scores of the meltdown Wall Streeters in jail be a deterrent to other would-be thieves?

And maybe we shouldn’t even attempt to write voluminous regulations, which can never anticipate every possible development, contingency, circumstance or human duplicity. Maybe we need just one rule that says, “Illegal, unethical, irresponsible, greedy or unsustainable banking practices shall not be permitted.” Would that work?

Howard and I — and many others — understand the problem and understand the goal. We all have possible and partial answers and proposals. But isn’t it possible that any solution — every solution — will be no better than the level of integrity brought to bear by every actor and institution in the system?


Brian T. Watson is a regular Salem News columnist. Contact him at

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