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Opinion
The Editors

How Eric Holder Failed the Economy

The attorney general will be remembered for what he didn't do: prosecute top executives for their role in the 2008 financial crisis.
His successor will have some work to do.
His successor will have some work to do.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who plans to step down after more than five years in office, has efforts and achievements to be proud of, no doubt, but will probably be remembered above all for something he didn't do: prosecute top executives for their role in the 2008 financial crisis.

He declined to hold senior executives accountable not because he wished to be soft on financial crime but because of a strategic error. In a 1999 memorandum, written when he was deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, he'd explained how prosecutors could charge corporations as criminal enterprises. In 2002, the testing of that doctrine on Enron Corp. auditor Arthur Andersen LLP caused the company to fold, and thousands of innocent people lost their jobs.