Madoff: a convenient scapegoat

Richard Adams writing in The Guardian makes the point well. Bernie Madoff certainly wasn’t the only crook on Wall Street and not the biggest either. He got 150 years in gaol for his undoubtedly fraudulent Ponzi scheme. But plenty of other financiers got bail-outs (and now we learn bonuses are back) for destroying people’s wealth on a massive scale and plunging our economy into deep recession. These events did not just happen with the inevitability of the arrival of next winter. They were created by the greed and irresponsibility of reckless bankers on the one hand, and the stupidity of the politicians who deregulated on the other.
Where exactly is the line of difference between Madoff, on the one hand now a convicted criminal, and other bankers who, in the name of high rates of profit sold sub-prime mortgages to people who didn’t understand them and in most cases didn’t need them; and then repackaged them to be sold as investments on behalf of ordinary workers and pensioners who knew nothing about their inherent instability?
Madoff deserves gaol to be sure; but it seems mighty convenient for the rest of Wall Street and the City that the high profile and severity of his sentence gives the handy impression that he must be a world apart from the rest of the industry – a convenient scapegoat.


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