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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Preview: Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report

by Calculated Risk on 1/25/2011 11:21:00 PM

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report will be released on Thursday, but Sewell Chan at the NY Times has some excerpts: Financial Crisis Was Avoidable, Inquiry Finds

The 2008 financial crisis was an “avoidable” disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street, according to the conclusions of a federal inquiry.
...
The majority report finds fault with two Fed chairmen: Alan Greenspan, who led the central bank as the housing bubble expanded, and his successor, Ben S. Bernanke, who did not foresee the crisis but played a crucial role in the response. It criticizes Mr. Greenspan for advocating deregulation and cites a “pivotal failure to stem the flow of toxic mortgages” under his leadership as a “prime example” of negligence.
...
[T]he report is harsh on regulators. It finds that the Securities and Exchange Commission failed to require big banks to hold more capital to cushion potential losses and halt risky practices, and that the Fed “neglected its mission.”

It says the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates some banks, and the Office of Thrift Supervision, which oversees savings and loans, blocked states from curbing abuses because they were “caught up in turf wars.”
When the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was announced, I was skeptical if they'd be willing to address the willful lack of regulatory supervision and the role of Wall Street in the crisis.

These excerpts give me hope - there is much more in Chan's article - now I'm definitely looking forward to reading the report! Barry Ritholtz is happy too.

Earlier posts on Case-Shiller Home Price indexes:
Case-Shiller: U.S. Home Prices Keep Weakening as Eight Cities Reach New Lows in November
House Prices and Months-of-Supply, and Real House Prices
• House Price graph gallery