Enabling Bad Bankers: In our most commented post of the week, American Banker Editor in Chief Neil Weinberg posited that the U.S. government's double standard was enabling bad bankers. Under current conditions, "bank executives would be crazy to hold back" from misbehavior, he wrote. "If they get caught, they can pay their way out of the problems with shareholders' money. And if their misdeeds pay off as expected, the profits will goose their pay." Most commenters agreed with Weinberg's assessment. "The scales of justice are anything but balanced when it comes to the prosecution of community bankers vs. mega bankers," one reader wrote. "Thank you for shining a light on this current injustice." But another commenter was willing to play devil's advocate. "Bankers are usually the scapegoats when the economy goes wrong, so I do think we have to proceed very carefully when considering criminal sanctions," the reader commented. "It is also the case that many of the bankers who have gone to prison were convicted of much more easily provable, common-garden variety frauds. We are more ambivalent when it comes to risk-taking." 

The Evolving Bank Branch: Per usual, the role of the bank branch was the subject of much debate on the blog this week. Terry Jorde of the Independent Community Bankers of America responded to analyst claims that community banks were holding on to their branches for too long by arguing that the value of branches is based on more than just dollars and cents. "The community bank return on investment includes meeting customers' everyday needs and enhancing their quality of life so they can be valuable and productive members of the local community," she wrote. Elsewhere, consultant John Berry suggested banks can enhance the branch experience by using new technology that can track when a customer crosses the threshold into a store and where a customer is in the store. And Dave Martin of Financial Supermarkets Inc. argued it was time to let bankers get out of their branches from time to time. "We continue to modify and transform our facilities and technologies," Martin wrote. "Maybe it's time to be as forward-thinking in reengineering the roles of our teams. Mobile banking might be our future. Mobile bankers just may be, as well."

From Our Risk Management Experts: Risk Doctor Cliff Rossi argued that banks clinging to outdated technological systems were putting the industry at risk. Meanwhile, Basel expert Mayra Rodriguez Valladares chimed in twice this week: first to argue that worries about banks' exposures to emerging markets were warranted; and, later, to deem Basel's 2014 agenda promising, but incomplete. "Unfortunately, two important items were missing from the Basel agenda," she wrote. "Bank regulators need to compel banks to focus much more on data collection, aggregation, validation, calculation and reporting … Also missing from the agenda is a major upgrade of Pillar I's operational risk measurement."

Got an informed opinion on the business of banking? Submit to BankThink. Full submissions guidelines are available here.