It has been a difficult year for big European and American banks. But then come to think of it, none of the years since the demise of Lehman Brothers in 2008 have been easy for them. That makes six full years that banks have been in the doghouse. In the first few following the crisis, they were derided as greedy, evil rogues who had nearly crippled the global economy.
Is the perception any better now? It seems like every day when you open a financial newspaper, some bank somewhere is being punished by a regulator. The headlines are unrelenting. Here’s one random sample: ‘EU fines banks €94 million for collusion. JPMorgan, UBS and Credit Suisse hit while RBS gains immunity after alerting watchdog.’ This referred to the European Commission imposing penalties on banks for participating in cartels involving Swiss franc-denominated interest-rate products. By the way, this is the European Union’s third cartel probe into the rigging of interbank lending rates.