This morning we discussed the danger that arises from merely fining banks instead of prosecuting them for violating laws.

Since the news cycle is focusing on the potential multibillion-dollar fines for BNP Paribas SA and Bank of America Corp., let's have a look at the amount of those potential fines in some context:

122673198

The total from the chart above is $87.53 billion. That seems like a lot of money until you compare it with the amount spent during the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). TARP had outflows of $611 billion and inflows of $642 billion according to ProPublica.

That should provide some context for the amount paid by the banks so far....

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Barry L Ritholtz at britholtz3@bloomberg.net