Here's why it seems like the CEO of Wells Fargo can't remember anything

John Stumpf — the CEO of what was once Wall Street's most squeaky-clean bank, Wells Fargo — was in front of Congress on Tuesday answering for the fraudulent actions of thousands of employees.

It's yet another exhausting example of how people working at a bank got up in the morning, cheated and lied to their customers, went home to their families, ate dinner, were fairly normal, went to bed, and then got up in the morning to lie and cheat at work again.

Here's what happened at Wells Fargo: Under intense pressure to meet performance targets from above, thousands of employees opened fake accounts for clients.

The bank has agreed to pay a fine of $125 million (peanuts, really, at a company with a market capitalization of $235 billion), and thousands — excluding the executives who ran this division, of course — were fired.

In front of Congress, Stumpf was apologetic but weak and ineffectual.

He said Wells Fargo was dealing with the issue for a number of years before he was made aware of the issue. "If I could turn the clock back, I — we all — wish we had done something earlier," Stumpf said.

And then he said something that you could've seen coming. He couldn't remember details. Specifically, Stumpf said he couldn't remember when exactly in 2013 he learned about the issue. He was repeatedly asked if he had known before the Los Angeles Times published a story on the practices, but he didn't answer.

This, you see, is a Wall Street coping mechanism. It also happens to beget more disastrous behavior...


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