Nor have they had the simple decency to say, "Sorry. Our bad for bringing our economy to its knees." They merely traded for their own benefit and let the train run off the tracks.
The entire rationale behind self-regulation was that we could trust the good judgment of the investment banks: They would behave well because it would be in their interest to behave well. The record of the past decade is patently clear: They can't be trusted to do this. But as the banks lobby once again to be released from even the meager rules that were passed, and Congress seems intent on releasing them, it bears asking: Where is the evidence they ever showed the restraint or discipline that is incumbent on a self-regulated sector?
The infamous quote from Chuck Prince, then the CEO of Citibank, remains an unfortunately accurate metaphor for the era: "As long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance." Wasn't it their responsibility, if they were to regulate themselves, to turn off the jukebox? Or at least to call the government, to ask it to turn it off?
The record is now clear. They abdicated the moral and fiduciary obligation they undertook when they claimed we could rely upon them to police themselves.
So here is my challenge: I invite the CEOs of all of the major investment banks to appear on my CNN show to present the evidence of how they actually tried to prevent or slow down the wreck. So far, they have all refused. If they can't or won't appear, or make this case elsewhere, at least they should have the decency to admit that their entire philosophical worldview has no more integrity than the advice they gave to so many of their clients.
VIDEO: Watch illustrator Steve Brodner's take on lax financial regulations.