Advancing a Free Society

What caused the financial crisis?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

By Keith Hennessey, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and Bill Thomas

Today, six members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission—created by the last Congress to investigate the causes of the financial crisis—are releasing their final report. Although the three of us served on the commission, we were unable to support the majority's conclusions and have issued a dissenting statement.

In a November 2009 article, Brookings Institution economists Martin Baily and Douglas Elliott describe the three common narratives about the financial crisis. The first argues that the primary cause was government intervention in the housing market. This intervention, principally through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, inflated a housing bubble that triggered the crisis. This is the view expressed by one of our co-commissioners in a separate dissent.

The second narrative blames Wall Street and its influence in Washington. According to this narrative, greedy bankers knowingly manipulated the financial system and politicians in Washington to take advantage of homeowners and mortgage investors alike, intentionally jeopardizing the financial system while enjoying huge personal gains. That's the view of the six majority commissioners.

Continue reading Keith Hennessey, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and Bill Thomas in the Wall Street Journal

(photo credit: trugiaz)