The value of seven billion dollars

According to the French legal system, the value of $7 billion is 3 years in jail. That's what Jerome Kerviel got for fraudulent trading which saddled Societe Generale with a $7 billion loss.

EPA's economic analysis estimates the value of a US human life at about $7 million.

The reason a life can be assigned a value is because it takes a certain amount of money in order to save a US life. If you have $14 million, you could use that in the US to save, most efficiently, about 2 human lives total. Or that's what EPA suggests.

The money wasted by Jerome Kerviel could, therefore, have been used to save 1,000 human lives.

So basically he wasted 1,000 human lives worth of money, and what he gets is 3 years in jail.

Of course the damage cannot be undone, regardless of whether the jail time is 3 years, or a lifetime, or if he is simply executed, like the Chinese would have done.

But money is about human lives. Economic damage is about human lives. A system which handles this sort of wrongdoing by, basically, giving the guy a slap on the wrist, does not have its priorities straight.

Comments

Anonymous said…
You seem to be ignoring the fact that there was a second part to his sentence: the judge ordered him to pay back the seven billion dollars he cost the bank in addition to serving 3 years in prison.

Granted, at his salary, it will take him something akin to 175,000 years to do so...but 'tis a bit more than a slap on the wrist, wouldn't you say? :)
Anonymous said…
Sorry, that should have read 17,000 years, not 175,000. Fingers go faster than the brain sometimes...
denis bider said…
Yea, it's pretty clear he'll never repay that. I'm not convinced that the debt will be a substantial burden on him. It may cost him some income, but most likely not much worse than paying high child support to multiple ex-wives. Not a major pain compared to other possible outcomes, and definitely not enough to deter anyone who wants to make a gamble on $7 billion.
verbatim said…
I don't see any good solutions for this kind of problems regardless of legal system. American system of long prison sentences doesn't work and Chinese one isn't working either. Doesn't matter if they lock him up for 3 years, 150 years or they kill him, damage is still there and deterrence factor is still close to 0.

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