For banks at the center of the recent foreign exchange investigation, paying the $3.4 billion in fines might be the easy part.
The aftermath, filled with more intense regulations and scrutiny as well as prospects of layoffs and continuing probes into their activity, make for an even murkier future, according to those familiar with the investigation and the ensuing fallout among the misbehaving institutions.
"This is really beginning to bite," said John Alan James, a professor at Pace University's School of Business and author of multiple books on corporate governance in the banking industry. "It's time for a pause."
James is an advocate of easing the pressure on banks, which have come under continued scrutiny since triggering the financial crisis of the past decade. He believes the regulatory burden not only hurts the banks themselves but also the broader economy as institutions remain reluctant to lend.
"You've got to really think about the impact that you're having through reduced loan capacity on the national economy," he said.