The Commission comes down hard on the failure of ‘senior public officials’ to do their jobs, on the rating agencies, on regulators (“regulators didn’t understand the markets they were regulating”), and on the compensation system that rewarded risk. They said they had referred to the Justice Dept any names and instances that might indicate criminal activity, but were firm that they were tasked only with studying what led to the crisis. It is not their role, they emphasized, to either comment on or pursue criminal matters.
The closest they came to ‘naming names’ in a somewhat derogatory tone, were Alan Greenspan and Goldman Sacks – and even then you had to listen real hard. There was frequent mention of the “shadow banking system” and the devastating effect it had on the financial health of the US economy.
Other mentions: laissez-faire, gutting of regulations that protected us for most of the 20th century – now have 19th century safeguards. “In many respects, our system is still as it was on eve of this crisis.” Too much risk with too little capital, companies were over leveraged. “These companies got too big to manage, not just too big to fail.”
Perfunctory mention of US households taking on too much debt but the brunt of their findings implicate the investment banks, the financial industry surrounding them, and the Federal Government.
So it’s a good thing we’ve been fighting these wars to keep us safe.