Chapter 4: United States of America - Policy, legislative, regulatory and enforcement responses
When the economy turns sour, revelations of criminal conduct and excessive practices that appear to have contributed to the downturn often lead the public to demand a swift and forceful response. The government responds by passing laws criminalizing the behavior at issue, increasing punishments for established offenses, and increasing the number of prosecutors and regulators. Unfortunately, this government response is often driven as much by the politics of the day as by any rational consideration of how to design a system that will prevent criminal conduct and excessive practices from becoming widespread during the next bull market. The beginning of the twenty-first century has seen the drawing of a new era of criminality. This new era has been planned and perpetuated not by such traditional criminal players as organised crime or drug cartels, but instead by the large multinational corporations that are essential actors in both the economy and society at large. The purpose of this chapter is to critically reflect on the response in the United States of America to white collar crime originating from the financial crisis. The first part of the chapter outlines the policy and legislative responses to the financial crisis introduced by President George Bush and President Barack Obama. This includes a brief evaluation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act 2008, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act 2008, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act 2009, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act 2012.
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