In announcing a record $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America over its role in the subprime lending fiasco that triggered a global economic crisis, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. pointed out that the penalty went well beyond the giant bank's cost of doing business.

True enough. That is a large sum of money even for a massive bank like BOA.

Yet the settlement constitutes something less than the deterrence needed to thwart future chicanery.

Financial penalties always are imposed long after the financial manipulation at issue. The individuals who concoct and execute the scheme usually are long gone from the institution, sometimes by golden parachute, by the time it decides to pay for their crimes.

Mr. Holder also noted Thursday that the settlement does not preclude civil or criminal action against the bank or individuals.

If he truly is interested in deterrence, Mr. Holder should see that individuals who jeopardized the entire economy are prosecuted.