In the wake of the most significant financial crisis since the Great Depression, the President signed into law on May 20, 2009, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, creating the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The Commission was established to "examine the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States."The 10 members of the bi-partisan Commission, prominent private citizens with significant experience in banking, market regulation, taxation, finance, economics, housing, and consumer protection, were appointed by Congress on July 15, 2009. The Chair, Phil Angelides, and Vice Chair, Bill Thomas, were selected jointly by the House and Senate Majority and Minority Leadership.The FCIC is charged with conducting a comprehensive examination of 22 specific and substantive areas of inquiry related to the financial crisis. Some of these areas include: fraud and abuse in the financial sector, including fraud and abuse towards 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; 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; and moreThe Commission is called upon to examine the causes of major financial institutions which failed, or were likely to have failed, had they not received exceptional government assistance.In its work, the Commission is authorized to hold hearings; issue subpoenas either for witness testimony or documents; and refer to the Attorney General or the appropriate state Attorney General any person who may have violated U.S. law in relation to the financial crisis.
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