Financial Crisis Inquiry Report: Final Report Of The National Commission On The Causes Of The Financial And Economic Crisis In The United States

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9780160879838: Financial Crisis Inquiry Report: Final Report Of The National Commission On The Causes Of The Financial And Economic Crisis In The United States

In the wake of the most significant financial crisis since the Great Depression, the President signed into law on May 20, 2009, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, creating the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The Commission was established to "examine the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States."

The 10 members of the bi-partisan Commission, prominent private citizens with significant experience in banking, market regulation, taxation, finance, economics, housing, and consumer protection, were appointed by Congress on July 15, 2009. The Chair, Phil Angelides, and Vice Chair, Bill Thomas, were selected jointly by the House and Senate Majority and Minority Leadership.The FCIC is charged with conducting a comprehensive examination of 22 specific and substantive areas of inquiry related to the financial crisis. Some of these areas include:
  • fraud and abuse in the financial sector, including fraud and abuse towards consumers in the mortgage sector;
  • Federal and State financial regulators, including the extent to which they enforced, or failed to enforce statutory, regulatory, or supervisory requirements;
  • the global imbalance of savings, international capital flows, and fiscal imbalances of various governments;
  • monetary policy and the availability and terms of credit;
  • accounting practices, including, mark-to-market and fair value rules, and treatment of off-balance sheet vehicles;
  • tax treatment of financial products and investments;
  • credit rating agencies in the financial system, including, reliance on credit ratings by financial institutions and Federal financial regulators, the use of credit ratings in financial regulation, and the use of credit ratings in the securitization markets;
  • lending practices and securitization, including the originate-to-distribute model for extending credit and transferring risk;
  • and more
The Commission is called upon to examine the causes of major financial institutions which failed, or were likely to have failed, had they not received exceptional government assistance.In its work, the Commission is authorized to hold hearings; issue subpoenas either for witness testimony or documents; and refer to the Attorney General or the appropriate state Attorney General any person who may have violated U.S. law in relation to the financial crisis. 

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Review:

 Reviews from Goodreads:

Thomas Gross rated it with 5 stars and had this to say, "A must-read, and very readable. This report explains a lot of what happened and is invaluable to an intelligent understanding of the Financial free-fall."

Mike rated it with 4 stars and had this to say, "This is excellent. Select chapters from this book ought to be required reading for high-schoolers."

Thomas Dunn rated it with 4 stars and had this to say, "An honest first appraisal. Opening chapter with the commissions several conclusions should be required high school reading."

Hiro rated it with 3 stars and hd this to say,

"The book is the official report produced by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The book primarily provides a chronological history before, during, and briefly after the crisis. There are three different reports: one adopted by the majority i.e. 6 members of the 10 member commission which were chosen by the "Democratic leadership of Congress", which constitutes most of the book, and two separate dissenting reports adopted by 3 members and 1 member of the commission who were all chosen by the "Republican leadership of Congress." The majority report describes the various causes of the financial crisis in great detail as they happened, including inadequate corporate governance and oversight at financial institutions, a system which rewards short-term profit at all levels, and lax regulatory oversight of various financial institutions especially by the federal government. The 3 member dissenting report is similar to the majority report, except that it puts more emphasis on international factors which were not considered in detail in the majority report. The 1 member dissenting report puts the blame of the financial crisis primarily on government housing policy over the years, which facilitated reduced lending standards and encouraged the creation of toxic mortgages which the borrowers had no realistic ability to ever pay off.

The majority report at almost 400 pages is at many points difficult to read because of the various financial terminology which are not adequately discussed in the text or in the glossary, but at other points reads like a novel because of the suspense created by the impending catastrophe at the more readable portions of the book. Also, the majority report could have been much more effectively focused by condensing it into fewer pages. The majority report sometimes reads like a laundry list of the various causes and events leading to the financial crisis. More analysis throughout the report could have led to a more focused and informative understanding of the crisis. Despite the excessive length of the report and lack of sufficient discussions of financial terminology, the report still provides a good overview of the causes of the financial crisis. In this respect, the 3 member dissenting report, because of its brevity, provides a very focused and to-the-point analysis of the causes of the financial crisis. This leads to a very clear understanding of the conclusions of the dissenting report. On the other hand, the 1 member dissenting report is somewhat biased in its opinion on the causes of the crisis, placing blame primarily on the government. It is hard to imagine that something as complex as the financial crisis could have been caused primarily by government policies. This commission member seems to be politically charged and wants to place blame on big government. In this respect, the other 9 commission members give a more balanced view.

Overall, the book is rather long and dry at parts because of the technical financial terminology, but at other parts reads like a suspense novel in anticipation of the coming financial meltdown. The book describes the dire situation that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner faced when they considered the bailout of Lehman Brothers, AIG, and many other financial institutions, and makes you appreciate that the bailout was not entirely about letting those financial institutions off the hook for irresponsible activities and risk-taking, but rather about letting the world economy collapse into chaos, which would have left absolutely nobody in the world unscathed, or saving the world economy as we know it. The book provides a thorough overview of the causes of the financial crisis even for those who have little knowledge of the modern financial system."

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Phil Angelides, Bill Thomas, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (U.S.) (Editor), National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in t (Editor)
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