Risk taking, lax oversight cited for financial crisis

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted Jan. 25 at 5:55 p.m.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has concluded that the 2008 financial crisis in the U.S. was caused by a combination of corporate errors, regulatory failure and excessive risk-taking by Wall Street firms, the New York Times reported online Tuesday.

The bipartisan commission, headed by former California treasurer Phil Angelides, spreads blame across agencies and officials in Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations for loosening regulation and inadequately responding to the crisis.

Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is criticized for pushing deregulation and overseeing the Fed as the housing bubble grew, while the current chairman, Ben Bernanke, is faulted for his part in the response to the crisis.

Additionally, according to the Times, the report says government-sponsored mortgage financiers Fannie Mae  and Freddie Mac  “contributed to the crisis but were not a primary cause.”

The Fed’s decision to keep rates low following the recession of 2001 “created increased risks,” the report says, but it wasn’t a prime cause, either.

The FCIC’s report also says that executives at companies such as Citigroup Inc., American International Group Inc.  and Merrill Lynch paid little attention to or were caught unaware by risks linked to mortgage securities.

Of the commission’s 10 members, only the six appointed by Democrats endorsed the final report, the Times said. It is scheduled to be released Thursday in book form.


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