Bloomberg columnist William Cohan seems to think that the government should criminally prosecute the executives of any business in which people make mistakes. "The continuing free passes are immensely frustrating," he writes. Another Bloomberg columnist, Roger Lowenstein, aired the opposite view last month: "to look for criminality as the supposed source of the crisis is to misread its origins badly."
It'd be a good topic for one of those Intelligence Squared debates. Those calling for more criminal prosecutions have the burden of naming who should be prosecuted and what evidence there is, beyond a reasonable doubt, of their criminal behavior, as well as of explaining why the prosecutions would discourage more crime rather than discouraging risk-taking or economic growth. Those calling for criminal prosecutions after the financial crisis always seem to want to target the bankers, rather than the regulators, for prosecution.