Five years ago, the unthinkable happened, a major US investment bank – Lehman Brothers – collapsed, triggering Western capitalism’s most serious crisis since the 1930s.
The repercussions are still being felt and the world economy has not yet recovered, but the trauma suffered in Europe has led to some major changes, which are supposed to ensure there is no repeat.
However not every country has responded in the same way.
Oliver Burrows, Senior Banks Analyst at Rabobank said: “What works for the French banking system might not work so well for the German banking system, or the Italian banking system, or the Spanish banking system and we have seen different speeds of paying attention to the banking systems in different countries. So for example in Spain there has been an enormous amount of consolidation, 43 local savings banks have been reduced to the low teens, whereas in Germany nothing has changed, they still have thousands of banks.”
Five years on the questions continue to be asked – who was to blame? and why was no one been punished?
In the United States no top executives at large Wall Street or commercial banks have been convicted of criminal charges relating to the crisis.
In Britain no senior bankers have faced criminal charges.In Germany and the Netherlands there have also been isolated high-level convictions, and some landmark cases could yet materialise. The entire former executive board of German lender HSH Nordbank is being put on trial over actions taken in the run-up to the crisis.
Three executives at Ireland’s failed Anglo Irish Bank face trial in 2014, five years after the probe into the lender began, while in Spain, around 100 people are being investigated by courts over failings at banks devastated by a property market crash, though none have gone on trial.
Around the world few laws have been changed that would enable such prosecutions to be brought.