Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) was a ten-member commission appointed by the United States government with the goal of investigating the causes of the financial crisis of 2007–2010. The first public hearing of the Commission was held on January 13, 2010, with the presentation of testimony from various banking officials. Hearings continued during 2010 with “hundreds” of other persons in business, academia, and government testifying.

The Commission reported its findings in January 2011. In briefly summarizing its main conclusions the Commission stated: “While the vulnerabilities that created the potential for crisis were years in the making, it was the collapse of the housing bubble—fueled by low interest rates, easy and available credit, scant regulation, and toxic mortgages—that was the spark that ignited a string of events, which led to a full-blown crisis in the fall of 2008.

“Trillions of dollars in risky mortgages had become embedded throughout the financial system, as mortgage-related securities were packaged, repackaged, and sold to investors around the world. When the bubble burst, hundreds of billions of dollars in losses in mortgages and mortgage-related securities shook markets as well as financial institutions that had significant exposures to those mortgages and had borrowed heavily against them. This happened not just in the United States but around the world. The losses were magnified by derivatives such as synthetic securities.”

The Commission was explicit in its concerns about insurance giant American International Group, financial giants Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, each of which the government brought under consideration for financial rescue.

In April 2011, the Commission released the Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse report.