The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) Report is Out

The FCIC ain’t the Pecora Commission, it lacked the authority, budget, and time to do so, so it is at best a half measure, but it is better than I had anticipated.

I am rather surprised that the they did not fall back on the “Hoocoodanode” explanation in the majority report, and actually assigned blame.

They actually assigned blame, with much of that going to Alan “Bubbles” Greenspan and “Helicopter” Ben Bernanke.

The commission also cites compromised federal regulators, particularly the OCC and the OTS, who went out of their way to hamstring state regulators who were far more aware, and more proactive, as well as the SEC’s unwillingness to regulate.

I am unsurprised that they determined that Timothy Geithner’s tenure as President of the New York Fed, “missed signs of trouble at Citigroup and Lehman,” though I am pleased that they stated so explicitly, and it is nice that they called out Larry Summers for his dogged attempts to completely deregulate derivatives.

The ratings agencies get a mention as “cogs in the wheel of financial destruction,” but it seems to soft pedal the degree that these folks were both corrupt, incompetent, and essential to both the financial system and the meltdown.

Some of the insiders have leaked that they think that all the reports ignore the fact that the system failed, and instead focus on fitting the events into the philosophical worldview, and I tend to agree:  This is much less of a description of the forest than it is of the trees.

One big surprise is the fact that the FCIC has referred some of its information to the DoJ because it believes that laws have been violated:

The claim of allegedly widespread securities law violations is among the more explosive findings in a sweeping report released Thursday by the Congressionally-appointed Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Those details help explain why the panel opted to refer several financial industry figures to state or federal law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution, as The Huffington Post reported Monday.

I don’t expect any action from Barack Obama or Eric “Place” Holder on this, after all, when it comes to law breaking by powerful elites, they want to “look forward”, rule of law be damned.

As to surprising revelations, the fact that they caught Goldman Sachs in a $2.9 billion lie regarding the Vampire Squid’s claim that they got no money for their own investments from the AIG bailout is surprising.

Not the Goldman lying part, that’s pretty normal, but the fact that they caught Goldman and then released it, is a surprise for me.

On the depressing side, it appears that the FCIC’s pledge to release all the raw documents is not as sweeping as they are claiming:

The FCIC’s commissioners, for their part, believe that they’ve done their best to be transparent. But Phil Angelides, the FCIC’s chairman, told Mother Jones in a Thursday conference call that the commission simply couldn’t release everything. “In the course of doing this kind of inquiry, you look at many documents that are completely irrelevant,” Angelides says. In addition, he says, “there are trade secret laws, other laws, federal law that controls the ability of the commission to release documents… It wouldn’t be responsible to do a document dump of documents that weren’t relevant to the crisis.”

Angelides promised that the “predisposition of the commissioners” would be to have a “fairly short period” before the National Archives and Records Administration releases the FCIC documents that won’t be released immediately. In the conference call, Angelides and fellow commissioner Brooksley Born refused to quantify what percentage of the commission’s documents will be released at what times, but Born claimed that the commissioners “erred on the side of openness.”

Even so, the National Chamber of Commerce is the absurd claim that any release of documents is a job-killing action akin to Wikileaks document dumps:

“The commission’s final report and its pledge to post raw materials — apparently including information obtained from companies as well as other government agencies — is an astounding abuse of process that would effectively create a government-sanctioned Wikileaks,” said Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform.

Considering the fact that these documents will reveal things like the big Wall Street firms knowing selling “a sack of s%$#” to investors, I tend to think that a full and complete release is a good thing, because the tighter the regulations, the more confidence that investors have, and so the more willing that they are to invest.

As to the slightly less absurd, there are the two minority reports from the Republicans.

The first, issued by 3 of the 4 Republicans on the committee, seems to primarily blame, “failures, near-failures, and restructurings of 10 firms triggered a global financial panic,” which is kind of silly, because panic is what happens when you realize that your 401K is all smoke and mirrors, because the banksters have been lying to you.

It’s really pretty similar to what the majority report says, only they say that it cannot be regulation, because the crisis was worldwide, ignoring the fact that the US and UK have been leading a regulatory race to the bottom for the past 30 years.

The remaining dissent, by Peter J. Wallison, who is co director of the American Enterprise Institute’s financial markets deregulation project, basically says that it was attempts by the government to make sure that banks did not discriminate against minorities, or, to put it more bluntly, he said, “this is what happens when you lend money to n*****s.”

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