THE last few drips are spilling from the tap. On August 8th Barclays agreed to pay 44 American states $100m in recompense for its traders manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). That followed a Federal Reserve announcement of a $36m payment by Goldman Sachs for the improper receipt of confidential information. Soon JPMorgan Chase is expected to say it will pay $200m to settle allegations it bribed high-ranking Chinese officials by offering internships to their children.

While these penalties are hardly trivial, they are small compared with what went before. Federal criminal prosecutions of financial firms in America were almost non-existent before the 2008 crisis. They then took off, accompanied by civil litigation, often co-ordinated with state attorneys general, and followed by private lawsuits.

It is not quite over. Negotiations continue over allegations of foreign-exchange manipulation by a dozen large banks. Barclays will not be the last to settle over LIBOR. But cases tied to three large categories—mortgages, tax evasion and the dodging of sanctions—have largely run their course. Barring a surprise,…Continue reading