What I realized today after reading a New York Times editorial on Goldman Sachs is that many more CEOs in the financial services sector than we care to think, when they're home at night in the dark, are convinced they did nothing wrong.
In fact, they have every intention of taking similar risks again.
Why? Because they presume a fundamental truth: the manipulation of financial products is a necessary - even essential - element in a dynamic economy. Because they feel they were justified in receiving government bailouts precisely because their financial strategies make the economy hum. Because the personal rewards of successful risk taking are too great. Because boards of directors still believe in their guts the Milton Friedman dictum that "the busines of business is business" and what's good for shareholders (read 'institutions') is good for all of us.
And in our hearts, even after fulsome apologies, promises of reform, compliant acceptance of a few minimal restrictions on bonuses, we know they will not change.
That's why the apologies seem so hollow, why there is such editorializing about whether an apology is enough. It isn't. Because, I hazard to guess, it's likely a lie.