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Welcome to the "Wolf Creek Pass" School of Monetary Policy

I don’t know if you folks remember that hit ditty: a humorous tune about two truckers attempting to manhandle an out-of-control 1948 Peterbilt down the “other side” of Wolf Creek Pass – a death-taunting section of U.S. Highway 160 where the elevation drops a hefty 5,000 feet in a relatively short distance.

The song’s two characters – a truck driver named Earl and his brother, who’s his partner as well as the song’s narrator – are taking a flatbed load of chickens on a speedy trip down this winding, two-lane Colorado highway. After the narrator gives Earl the above-mentioned warning, the ancient semi’s brakes fail.

From there on down, the narrator tells us that the brothers’ trip “just wasn’t real pretty.” The truck careened around hairpins and switchbacks, and then raced at an uncontrolled 110 mph toward a tunnel with “clearance to the 12-foot line” – with chicken crates sadly “stacked to 13-9.”

The drivers and the runaway Peterbilt “went down and around and around and down ’til we run outta ground at the edge of town… and bashed into the side of the feed store – in downtown Pagosa Springs.”

Believe it or not, I started thinking about this funny old country tune the other night – right after I’d read a piece about QE3 and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

As zany as it first sounds, the parallels are striking.

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    Too Big To Jail: It's a Dark Day For the Rule of Law

    The opening line of a December 11, 2012 New York Times editorial on federal and state authorities choosing not to indict HSBC for money laundering reads: "It is a dark day for the rule of law."

    It may be a dark day for the rule of law, but it's business as usual for the banks.

    America's heralded and frighteningly powerful Department of Justice, along with all of the not so heralded or frightening banking regulators, simply refused to prosecute Britain's biggest bank out of fear of "collateral consequences."

    In other words, they're "too big to prosecute."

    That's what Andrew Bailey, the chief executive-designate of the Prudential Regulation Authority, said about the usual deferred prosecution agreement that accompanied HSBC's $1.9 billion fine. The Prudential Regulation Authority is set to replace the U.K.'s Financial Services Authority - the country's current toothless watch dog,

    It's just another example of too big to fail and too big to jail.

    Deferred prosecution agreements and hefty fines levied against the world's TBTF banks have become commonplace. Still, there are relatively few criminal charges, just wrist-slapping, don't-do-it-again fines and public spankings.

    It is a dark day for the rule of law because the money cloak has effectively been cast over all things having to do with justice.

    Let's call it what it is: buying immunity.

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