Phil Angelides served as Chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a ten member bipartisan panel created by federal law and charged with conducting the nation’s official inquiry into the causes of the financial and economic crisis. The Commission presented its report to the President and Congress in January 2011, concluding that the crisis was avoidable and was caused by widespread failures of regulation, dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance, excessive risk taking by Wall Street, government leaders ill-prepared for crisis, and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics. The report made the New York Times and Washington Post best sellers lists and The New York Review of Books hailed it as “the most comprehensive indictment of the American financial failure that has yet been made” and “the definitive history of this period.”
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The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was created to “examine the causes of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” The final report of the Commission was intended to provide a historical accounting of what brought our financial system and economy to the precipice of collapse and to help policy makers and the public better understand how the crisis and resulting economic calamity came to be.
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. The Commission’s report fulfilled these mandates. In addition, the Commission was instructed to refer to the Attorney General of the United States and any appropriate state attorney general any person that the Commission found may have violated the laws of the United States in relation to the crisis. In this regard, the Commission made a number of referrals to the Attorney General of the United States. The Commission used the authority it was given to issue subpoenas to compel testimony and the production of documents, but in the vast majority of instances, companies and individuals voluntarily cooperated with the inquiry.
In the course of its research and investigation, the Commission 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 hard hit by the crisis. The Commission also drew from a large body of existing work about the crisis developed by congressional committees, government agencies, academics, journalists, legal investigators, and many others.