Once a staid financial institution with a focus on Asia, HSBC has found itself caught up in recent years in scandals involving predatory lending, tax evasion and the role its lax internal controls have played in helping drug traffickers and organizations said to be linked to terrorist groups. To resolve U.S. charges relating to the latter, HSBC had to pay out nearly $2 billion in penalties. In 2015 the bank came under fire again when leaked data on secret customer accounts led to new allegations that the bank was abetting tax evasion.
JPMorgan Chase, a prime symbol of financial sector misconduct and reckless behavior in recent years, represents the consolidation of several of the most powerful New York and Chicago money center banks as well as the investment house founded by the legendary financier and robber baron J.P. Morgan.
Although it was forced to adopt the technical structure of a bank holding company during the 2008 financial crisis, Morgan Stanley is still primarily an investment house, a leading player on Wall Street for the past 75 years. The firm was spun off from J.P. Morgan’s financial empire in 1935 after the Glass-Steagall Act mandated the separation of commercial banking and investment banking in an effort to end the abuses that led to the stock market crash and the Great Depression.
Over the last 150 years the corporation has risen from relative obscurity to become the world’s dominant economic institution. Eminent Canadian law professor and legal theorist Joel Bakan contends that today’s corporation is a pathological institution, a dangerous possessor of the great power it wields over people and societies.
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” Marcia Angell, MD, The Truth About the Drug Companies