As the world migrates away from carbon-based fuels, trillions of barrels of oil and billions of tons of coal -- the assets sitting on the books of energy companies -- will become "stranded," or worthless. It's a compelling argument, but only if we can answer a key question.
Our state of affairs goes against a pinnacle of American justice, equality before law, facilitating everything from war crimes, to torture, to domestic spying, to a predatory, ravenous Wall Street that feeds on the middle class with impunity.
"The public needs to know that money is still being funneled through HSBC to directly buy guns and bullets to kill our soldiers. Fines are not acceptable. I want a criminal indictment of HSBC executives," [Stern] asserts. "And if I die because of this, my life will have been worthwhile."
Two of the largest banks in the world, which reap massive explicit and implicit subsidies from the government, were criminal enterprises for at least a decade. Each engaged in violations that were vastly larger than Liberty Reserve.
It is clear that there are far cheaper fuels -- efficiency, solar and wind to replace coal and natural gas in the U.S., and biofuels or electricity elsewhere to reduce oil intensity. So how much $100 fossil fuel can the world afford, climate aside?
Breaking up the biggest banks because they are perceived as "too big to fail" is unrealistic. What is needed, however, are improvements in the transparency and the accountability of governance in these institutions.
Over the past decade the Philippines' sovereign credit rating oscillated between "negative" and "stable," reflecting concern about the ability of the government to collect sufficient tax revenue, manage its budget, and sustain a high rate of GDP growth.
The Standard Chartered agreement with the Department of Justice actually anticipates dismissals of its crime. It states that if Standard Chartered denies its crimes, it must issue a new statement within five days after the government orders it.
There is the possibility that the Justice Department really believes that prosecuting the criminal activities of Bank of America or JP Morgan could sink the economy. If this is true then it make the case for breaking up the big banks even more of a slam dunk.
Politicians and regulators serve criminal banks for the very same reason that Willie Sutton robbed them: That's where the money is. If these senators don't figure that out pretty soon, they're going to have to go to the people to raise money.
As our government of the richest and mightiest country in the world is incapable of effecting retribution, we can only implore the divinity: please see to it that really bad things happen to these really bad people.
There is a clear role for the Treasury, and senators should use today's hearing to clarify it. If the Treasury has a responsibility to coordinate and ensure regulatory oversight of U.S. financial institutions, then what is it doing to ensure financial regulators provide stronger oversight?
"The rule of law isn't really the rule of law if it doesn't apply equally to everybody. If you're going to put somebody in jail for having a joint in his pocket, you can't let higher ranking HSBC officials off for laundering $800 million for the worst drug dealers in the entire world."
While federal prosecutors sought to throw the book at a 26-year-old hacker who tried to distribute information for free, federal regulators are sitting on their thumbs when it comes to community drinking water supplies.