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The Chicken Shit Club

Ever wonder why no bankers went to jail after the 2008 financial crisis? Investigative journalist, Jesse Eisinger, tells us why in his book, “The Chicken Shit Club.”

Jesse Eisinger is an award winning senior reporter and editor at ProPublica.  He and a colleague won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series of stories on the questionable Wall Street practices that helped make the financial crisis the worst since the Great Depression.  The book we’re going to be discussing today is his latest, “The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives.”

“What has replaced prosecuting individual executives… are these negotiated settlements… The corporation writes a check.  And a piece of paper is put in a drawer… and the prosecutors say, ‘Well, we could prosecute you, but we’re not going to for now.  And we want to watch you to see if you behave yourself.’  My argument is that this has replaced the prosecutions of individuals, and that this fundamentally does not work.  It is a regime that is broken.  And the reason we know it doesn’t work is that we see corporations breaking rules repeatedly and getting sanctioned and then breaking them again.  JP Morgan, Pfizer, BP, these companies, many other companies are recidivists.  They have broken rules and been accused of crimes and sometimes pled guilty to crimes – over and over again – and still commit wrongdoing.  So, this is a regime that just does not work.” Jesse Eisinger, author of The Chicken Shit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives.


  1. John M. Morgan says:

    Excellent program, including the clear explanation of many factors other than Russia-gate that led to Hillary’s defeat.

    I was sorry to hear Ralph in the Q&A at the end defending the Russia-gate hype, citing the indictment of the 13 Russians as evidence.

    The Justice Dept. will never have to prosecute the 13, so they could put anything in the indictment that suited their public relations purposes. The most plausible explanation for the Russians behavior, it appears to me, is the one explained at Moon of Alabama:
    “Mueller Indictment – The ‘Russian Influence’ Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme”

    When the Soviet Union ended, our political establishment became triumphalist, convinced that they could rule and exploit the world (including Russia) unchallenged into the foreseeable future. They loved it when Russia was on its back and suffering under Yeltsin. Their hatred of Russia now is their response to Russia rebuilding under Putin to the point where it can stand in the way our nefarious agenda. The western establishment and media have been in propaganda mode about Russia ever since.

    Everything most Americans think they know about Russia and Putin are a fantasy construct of the propaganda swamp we live in. Years ago independent journalist IF Stone said “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for those countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.”
    How much more dangerous is it when the “free” media joins the government in lying?

    Here is a good brief statement about what is at stake.
    The Coming Wars to End All Wars

    Here is someone with solid basis for a contrary opinion of Putin:
    Understanding Russia, Un-Demonizing Putin

  2. AmyInNH says:

    I suspect crime in the suite, creating poverty, is the cause of most crime in the street.

  3. robert dresdner says:

    JE is correct. Soft enforcement has been the practice at states and EPA since the 70s. It did not begin with Obama or Trump or Bush. As a result of soft enforcement, polluters know its far cheaper for polluters to violate water or air permits than to spend money to comply with permit and pollution control requirements, and if the pollute is caught violating, the polluter is not prosecuted criminally or even civilly; he is offered a settlement, he accepts with a check for a low penalty, and avoids litigation costs and is not required to admit liability. This is the basic soft enforcement practices at DOJ-EES re environmental violators. EPA and DOJ senior mgmt refuses to seek adequate penalties in settlements with corporate defendants because they are headed for a fat job at a law firm after “public service”, eg the example given of Eric Holder. There is zero deterrence due to 1] low penalty assessments and final settlements, far below the wrongful economic benefit of noncompliance and 2] far below any calculation of punitive damages.

  4. Orlando says:

    I don’t see a similar character like Nader making sure there where safety standards at the beginning of the industrial revolution, maybe he’s a purely american phenomenon.
    Orlando M.
    Ottawa ont.

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