This is just brilliant: A U.K. government adviser issued a scathing report on the business practices of Royal Bank of Scotland Plc. And now the government-controlled bank has hired a law firm to conduct its own investigation of itself, while the U.K. government prepares to investigate the bank even further.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s general counsel, Stephen Cutler, took part in a panel discussion last Friday in which he criticized the U.S. government for all the penalties and investigations it has leveled against his bank. "At what point does this stop?" he said.
At least when it comes to JPMorgan, the U.S. government isn't gazing at its own navel. Once JPMorgan repaid the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2009, the separation between regulators and the regulated was restored. At a handful of other lenders, such as Ally Financial Inc. -- which a few years ago became a poster child for foreclosure abuses -- the U.S. government continues to own controlling stakes. And, of course, we still have Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, now in their sixth year of operating under government conservatorship.