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Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Hearings Continue

The FCIC is holding three more days of hearings April 7-9, 2010 devoted to Subprime Lending and Securitization and Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs). The 10-member FCIC panel is investigating banking executives’ involvement in risky mortgage debt investments that helped trigger the 2008 financial collapse. The hearings were carried by CSPAN. There were these advance billings:

The Meltdown Men: Greenspan, Rubin, & Prince to Testify before Financial Crisis Commission  (Monday, 04/5/2010 – 11:15 am) by Jeff Madrick

Financial Crisis Inquiry Wrestles With Setbacks, by Sewell Chan and Eric Dash (Published: April 5, 2010)

On Wednesday (April 7), there were three sessions.
Session 1 was the one you probably saw excerpts from on the evening news:

Session 1: The Federal Reserve

Mr. Alan Greenspan, Former Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  Testimony (PDF) |Video

This session got major play in the print media and Internet:

Greenspan Testifies To Financial Crisis Commission, Blames Fannie, Freddie For Subprime Crisis (LIVEBLOG, VIDEO). Huffington Post. Shahien Nasiripour and Ryan McCarthy (First Posted: 04- 7-10 09:10 ).

(The HuffPo promised to run a live blog of the testimony at the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s latest round of hearings in Washington, D.C. Check back to the link above for regular updates and video.)

Richard (RJ) Eskow: In the Dark: A Good Prosecutor Would’ve Pinned Greenspan Down (Huffington Post, April 8, 2010)

FCIC Hearings: Greenspan Grilled, Madrick Validated (Wednesday, 04/7/2010 – 2:30 pm) by Justin Lutz, Roosevelt Institute

Greenspan Grilled Over Role in Financial Crisis, by John C. Mckinnon and Randall Smith, Wall Street Journal (April 8, 2010)

Greenspan reflects on crisis, deflects blame, by Dana Milbank, Washington Post Staff Writer (Thursday, April 8, 2010)

As the WSJ noted, "Former Fed chief Alan Greenspan faced some of the toughest questioning yet about his role in the financial crisis at a hearing Wednesday marked by tense exchanges with a longtime foe." Who might that be? WaPo has the answer:

A particularly sharp exchange occurred between Mr. Greenspan and Brooksley E. Born, a panelist and former regulator who clashed with Mr. Greenspan and members of the Clinton administration over derivatives regulation — and lost that battle.
In tough questioning on Wednesday, Ms. Born called on Mr. Greenspan to defend his longtime deregulatory bent.

"The Fed utterly failed to prevent the financial crisis," she said. "The Fed and the banking regulators failed to prevent the housing bubble. They failed to prevent the predatory lending scandal. They failed to prevent our biggest banks and bank holding companies from engaging in activities that would bring them to the verge of collapse without massive taxpayer bailouts."

"Didn’t the Federal Reserve fail to meet its mandates, fail to meet it responsibilities?" she added.

Mr. Greenspan replied that there was a failure: an underestimation of the "state and extent" of financial risks and the ability of private counterparties to assess them.

"The notion that somehow my views on regulation were predominant and effective at influencing the Congress is something you may have perceived," he said. "But it didn’t look that way from my point of view."

Session 2: Subprime Origination and Securitization

Mr. Richard Bitner, Managing Director of, Author, "Confessions of a Subprime Lender: An Insider’s Tale of Greed, Fraud & Ignorance" Testimony (PDF) Video

Mr. Richard Bowen, Former Senior Vice President and Business Chief Underwriter, CitiMortgage Inc.Testimony (PDF) | Video

Ms. Patricia Lindsay, Former Vice President, Corporate Risk, New Century Financial Corporation   Testimony (PDF) | Video

Ms. Susan Mills, Managing Director of Mortgage Finance, Citi Markets & Banking, Global Securitized Markets,
Testimony (PDF)

Session 3: Citigroup Subprime-Related Structured Products and Risk Management

Mr. Murray C. Barnes, Former Managing Director, Independent Risk, Citigroup, Inc.,
Testimony (PDF)
| Video

Mr. David C. Bushnell, Former Chief Risk Officer, Citigroup, Inc. Testimony (PDF) | Video

Mr. Nestor Dominguez, Former Co-Head, Global Collateralized Debt Obligations, Citi Markets & Banking, Global Structured Credit Products  Testimony (PDF) | Video

Mr. Thomas G. Maheras, Former Co-Chief Executive Officer, Citi Markets & Banking Testimony (PDF) | Video

News coverage of Sessions 2 & 3 included:

Fed Reviews Find Errors in Oversight of Citigroup, by Sewell Chan and Eric Dash,
New York Times (Published: April 7, 2010)

Day 2 (April 8): The bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) continued to hear testimony today from several former Citigroup executives including ex-CEO and Chairman Chuck Prince and Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary who headed Citigroup’s executive committee.

In his statement this morning, former Citigroup President & CEO Chuck Prince apologized for the impact of the financial crisis on Americans. His comments came as he and former Citigroup Board Member Robert Rubin testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Later, Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan spoke on his office’s oversight over Citigroup during the financial crisis.

Session 1: Citigroup Senior Management

Mr. Chuck Prince, Former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Citigroup, Inc. Testimony (PDF) | Video

Mr. Robert Rubin, Former Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, Citigroup, Inc. Testimony (PDF) | Video

Prince and Rubin testified side by side, and questions were directed to them alternately, so there is one video for both of them. Rubin blamed "excesses and abuses," but defended CRA, and strongly recommended consumer protections. He was questioned about Fannie and Freddie Mac. Rubin, as many others, complained that "nobody knew" what would happen, and said "we didn’t understand the downside." As if the Great Depression wasn’t enough to show him the downside.
When challenged about this, Rubin said, yeah, there were a few people who understood the larger picture, but "nobody" at the larger institutions did. See The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis.
Brooksley Born’s questions begin about 2 hours and 13 minutes into the video. She got Rubin to agree that over the counter derivatives should be regulated. In the final questions of the session, Rubin claimed that he was NOT opposed to regulation, contrary to previous reports. Rubin had a pad of paper and was taking notes. Angelides was struck by how little Prince and Rubin knew about what was going on in their own organization, even though they were on site and frequently engaged. It is as if they were insulated (my word) from what was really going on. (Angelides: You were either pulling the levers, or asleep at the switch.) They delegated almost everything, but did little oversight.

Session 2: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Mr. John C. Dugan, Comptroller, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency     Testimony (PDF) | Video

Mr. John D. Hawke Jr., Former Comptroller, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency    Testimony (PDF) | Video

News coverage of the session includes:

  • Ex-Citi exec says he warned Rubin on mortgage risk, DANIEL WAGNER, AP
    (Published: April 7, 2010)

    Ex-Citigroup Chiefs Pressed On Roles In Risk-Taking, NPR/AP (April 8, 2010) Robert Rubin, a senior adviser to Citigroup Inc. at the time of its deep losses from subprime mortgages, and former CEO Charles Prince said Thursday they learned belatedly that Citi had $43 billion in high-risk securities on its bookson CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 (

    o Citigroup official on the hot se…
    (4th video in the podcast): Robert Rubin faces grilling over Citigroup’s financial problems. CNN’s Jessica Yellin reports.

    o Cooper interviewed Andrew Ross Sorkin about this session, but I can’t find a link for it on CNN.

Day 3 (April 9) had sessions devoted to Fannie Mae, and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Session 1: Fannie Mae

Mr. Robert J. Levin, Former Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer, Fannie Mae

Mr. Daniel H. Mudd, Former President and Chief Executive Officer, Fannie Mae

Session 2: Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight

Mr. Armando Falcon Jr., Former Director
Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight

Mr. James Lockhart, Former Director
Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight

Advance billing for this session included:

Ex-Fannie Mae executives to face special panel, by ALAN ZIBEL | April 9, 2010 12:19 AM EST | AP

In these hearings, there were many questions about "Mark to Market" accounting.

Lutz, in the piece on the Roosevelt Institute’s page, concluded with this assessment:

Even at his toughest Phil Angelides,  former California State Treasurer and Chair of the FCIC, at his toughest failed to elicit any admission of fault from Greenspan.

Angelides’ lead role in the investigation has been called into question
recently; a recent New York Times article notes that,

"a few commissioners said they were concerned that Mr. Angelides was more interested in holding prominent hearings than in selecting a few targets for deep examination. For example, the chief executives of four Wall Street banks testified in January, and Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, will testify on Wednesday. The commission has issued no subpoenas even though it has the power to do so."

This is unacceptable. We hope that as the testimony progresses, the Commission is able to turn up the heat in order to get down to the real, tangible causes of the worst financial crisis in most people’s memory.

The New York Times article has much more on this subject.

There is now quite a lot of news coverage on the hearings so far, many more than included here, but conveniently gathered on the FCICI website at

Finally, the previous set of hearings (February 26-27, 2010) has been reviewed by Shahien Nasiripour at HuffPo: Lively Debate, Hard Truths Emerge During Debate On Financial Crisis.
This set of hearings interviewed academics and other experts, but no stars and hence little coverage. Nevertheless, there’s much substance there that merits attention (see transcripts and videos for these sessions on the FCIC website

Bob in AZ

P.S. I’ve been working on this diary for more than a day. I need an easier way to compile and publish diaries with many links, bullet points, etc.

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Joined the Dean Democrats in 2004 in Arizona; became Organizer, Democracy for America, Honolulu Meetup, after moving to Hawaii;
Secretary, Progressive Democrats of Hawaii. Moved back to Arizona, 2009

I grew up in the Midwest, taught Anthropology at the University of Maryland, Wayne State University, Rice University, Colorado State University, and the College of Ganado; Moved to Arizona in 1987 and worked for the American Indian Rehabilitation Research and Training Center until 2004, when the Center went out of business. Retired in 2009 from my job in Hawaii, moved back to Arizona, and am temporarily teaching anthropology at Northern Arizona University

Hobbies: Family History; also, I play bluegrass music on bass & guitar.