Paging Clive Owen And Naomi Watts....

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It would be difficult to make the case that, over the last decade or so, financial institutions haven't begun to resemble the sovereigns that purport to regulate them. Certainly, with the news that the spying scandal brewing at Deutsche Bank is wider than initially realized, it becomes more and more obvious that global financial institutions have begun, also, to act like sovereigns, particularly with respect to the creation and use of intelligence services. For what it's worth, 2008 revenues at Goldman outpace the Gross National Product (much less the tax receipts) of Panama, Estonia and Iceland- and the odd alien visitor could be forgiven for thinking that this latter had outsourced its central bank function to any of three global banks. (Take your pick).
Sovereigns are playing right along, sending their agents to penetrate and gather intelligence on Swiss banks (Germany, we are looking at you) as if they were the Abwehr, and though it might look like the United States has concluded swaps with Schweizerische Nationalbank, those transactions might as well be directly with UBS and Credit Suisse. And who would argue that the United States Department of State is really negotiating primarily with the Swiss Government, rather than UBS, on the issue of naming U.S. depositors? Of course, the result here (no fine for You and Us) reminds one of treaty negotiations more than a regulatory probe. But, then, when two or three big banks have the power to make (or break) the country's economy, what's the difference?
Bank Scandal Widens [The Wall Street Journal]

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