The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) was created on May 20, 2009, to examine the causes, domestic and global, of the financial and economic crisis in the United States. During the course of its investigation, the ten-person bipartisan committee reviewed millions of pages of documents, interviewed more than 700 witnesses, and held 19 days of public hearings in New York, Washington, D.C., and communities across the country that were hit hard by the crisis. The final report presents the Commission’s findings and conclusions regarding the causes of the crisis.
TOPICS OF INQUIRY BY THE COMMISSION
The Commission’s statutory instructions set out 22 specific topics for inquiry and called for the examination of the collapse of major financial institutions that failed or would have failed if not for exceptional assistance from the government. These include:
- fraud and abuse in the financial sector, including fraud and abuse toward 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;
- capital requirements and regulations on leverage and liquidity, including the capital structures of regulated and non-regulated financial entities;
- 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;
- affiliations between insured depository institutions and securities, insurance, and other types of nonbanking companies;
- the concept that certain institutions are 'too-big-to-fail' and its impact on market expectations;
- corporate governance, including the impact of company conversions from partnerships to corporations;
- compensation structures;
- changes in compensation for employees of financial companies, as compared to compensation for others with similar skill sets in the labor market;
- the legal and regulatory structure of the United States housing market;
- derivatives and unregulated financial products and practices, including credit default swaps;
- financial institution reliance on numerical models, including risk models and credit ratings;
- the legal and regulatory structure governing financial institutions, including the extent to which the structure creates the opportunity for financial institutions to engage in regulatory arbitrage;
- the legal and regulatory structure governing investor and mortgagor protection;
- financial institutions and government-sponsored enterprises; and
- the quality of due diligence undertaken by financial institutions.
CONCLUSIONS REACHED BY THE COMMISSION
The following are the conclusions reached by the Commission:
- We conclude this financial crisis was avoidable.
- We conclude widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets.
- We conclude dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions were a key cause of this crisis.
- We conclude a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency put the financial system on a collision course with crisis.
- We conclude the government was ill prepared for the crisis, and its inconsistent response added to the uncertainty and panic in the financial markets.
- We conclude there was a systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics.
- We conclude collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization pipeline lit and spread the flame of contagion and crisis.
- We conclude over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this crisis
We conclude the failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction.
Read the complete FCIC chapter on Conclusions here.
In January 2011, the Commission issued a 400+ page report setting forth its findings and conclusions. The report included two dissenting opinions, Appendices, and extensive notes. It provides a valuable and detailed record and examination of events leading up to the crisis. You may view or download the FCIC Report in full or by section by clicking on the links below.
Table of Contents and Front Matter
Part I: Crisis on the Horizon
Part II: Setting the Stage
Part III: The Boom and Bust
Part IV: The Unraveling
Part V: The Aftershocks
Appendices & After Matter
ARCHIVE AND HEARING MATERIALS
YPFS hosts a live searchable archive copy of the FCIC's website that contains thousands of documents, emails, and 00charts considered by the Commission in its work. Also included are recordings and transcripts of Commission interviews, videotapes of the Commission’s hearings, documents created by the Commission staff, and supporting research that further illuminate the Commission's work and its findings.
The FCIC website at YPFS can be reached by clicking here.
Copyright 2019 Yale Program on Financial Stability