Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse

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Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse

Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse

United States Senate
PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Carl Levin, Chairman
Tom Coburn, Ranking Minority Member

WALL STREET AND
THE FINANCIAL CRISIS:

Anatomy of a Financial Collapse

~

MAJORITY AND MINORITY
STAFF REPORT

PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE
ON INVESTIGATIONS

UNITED STATES SENATE

April 13, 2011

In the fall of 2008, America suffered a devastating economic collapse. Once valuable securities lost most or all of their value, debt markets froze, stock markets plunged, and storied financial firms went under. Millions of Americans lost their jobs; millions of families lost their homes; and good businesses shut down. These events cast the United States into an economic recession so deep that the country has yet to fully recover.

This Report is the product of a two-year, bipartisan investigation by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations into the origins of the 2008 financial crisis. The goals of this investigation were to construct a public record of the facts in order to deepen the understanding of what happened; identify some of the root causes of the crisis; and provide a factual foundation for the ongoing effort to fortify the country against the recurrence of a similar crisis in the future.

Using internal documents, communications, and interviews, the Report attempts to provide the clearest picture yet of what took place inside the walls of some of the financial institutions and regulatory agencies that contributed to the crisis. The investigation found that the crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products;  undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.

While this Report does not attempt to examine every key moment, or analyze every important cause of the crisis, it provides new, detailed, and compelling evidence of what happened. In so doing, we hope the Report leads to solutions that prevent it from happening again.

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