1]:To scare US citizens into abandoning offshore bank accounts [even though it is still perfectly legal for them to have one] and to "repatriate" their offshore finances.
In other words, big U.S banks are behind all of this, to no less an extent than the government itself- the banks obtain more fees from their new, scared , ex-offshore banking, customers.
2]: "Sheep shearing", i.e to "beat the bushes" and scare US persons using legitimate offshore banks in Switzerland and elsewhere into finally "coming clean" and paying even more money to the Federal behemoth than they already do, so that just like the banks themselves, the government gets more money [i.e. tax revenues].
Also, it is far easier for the US government to seize funds from a customers account within a fully cooperative US based bank that is threatened, than it is for it to do the same to an entirely foreign bank outside of direct US government influence.
As in all government scams, for maximum psychological effect, timing is crucial in the scam/shearing operation.
Because the US "tax day" deadline is set for April 14th, typically [actually, like "clockwork" every year], the scam usually starts in the New Year and builds momentum January through March to its final crescendo of attention-grabbing headline status by April 14th. or so, as a scary reminder to all "good" [i.e. extremely gullible] US citizens to pay their "fair share" of taxes, and not to be naughty girls and boys and try to bank offshore, because according to those annual headline-grabbing, intentionally fear-inducing headlines, the US government can grab any/all offshore accounts it feels like, whenever it feels like it - even in Switzerland, despite its 600-odd year history of banking privacy for all non-criminal, depositors.
How The Scam Works: The "Straw Man" Set Up
The scam works by setting up a "straw man"[ or "straw men"] , who most people will, out of sheer ignorance, believe to be the genuine article, then have the U. S government attack [or "put pressure on"] said straw men, who then predictably, cave in to that pressure after a suitable amount of resistance on their part.
The media [i.e the propaganda arm of the U.S government] then dutifully broadcasts the caving in of the straw men and this is then broadcast as "proof positive" that other, seemingly similar
institutions [to the uneducated, anyway], are just as vulnerable as the straw men who have now caved to the demands of the U.S. government.
This Years  Two Favorite Straw Men? : Credit Suisse and U.B.S.
This time around, there appear to be at least two straw men: Credit Suisse and U.B.S. therefor, pre April 14th we have had stories like this one appearing in places like The Wall Street Journal, implying that your money is no longer safe in any Swiss bank.
U.S Behind The Pressure Put On German Depositors?
Allthough the journal Article focusses on the ongoing trials and tribulations between German depositors and these two particular straw men, the implication is that the exact same demands from these institutons apply to U.S depositors at U.B.S. and Credit Suisse- which they do, of course.
In actuality, and in all liklihood, the U.S. government persuaded the German government to apply pressure in a "quid pro quid" arrangement to both their benefits. The timing of these "bush beating" escapades makes me suspect direct US involvement in what is happening to German depositors at these two institutions [Unless maybe the Germans also have an April income tax filing deadline or similar.]
Forget Most "Alternative" and "Free Market" Commentaries Too!
And by the way, even some of the the "alternative" "free market" financial press appears to have been fooled by the latest US government shenanigans, as these articles from The Daily Bell clearly show . [Which just goes to show, and no differently from any other news source, don't believe everything you read on an "alternative" "free market" website either.]:
Financial Privacy Anyone?:
If you want financial privacy via an offshore bank account [for whatever reason], and while it is still legal to do so, do not open such an account with any bank that has ANY branches in the US, or even has branches in an overseas territory at the mercy and influence of the US government.
Confiscation/ Seizure of US Citizen Depositors Funds
Remember also, any bank account held in the US or overseas that is subject to US law , in any US regulated domestic or foreign bank branch [ie still subject to US law], can be easily frozen, or even confiscated ", merely on suspicion", pre-trial, even pre-sentencing, by virtually any federal agency or by any federal judge, literally on a whim.
I've written about this before, and why it is not true [and can never be true] that all Swiss Banks are susceptible to the same political pressure being applied to Credit Suisse, U.B.S. and their clients, by the U,S. bank lobby, via the U.S. government, here.