The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, established in 2009 to investigate the causes of the recent financial crisis, has subpoenaed both Goldman Sachs and Warren Buffet over the past week. Their testimony, how it was received, and how the FCIC issued their subpoenas has revealed much about the commission's mission, approach, and perhaps even attitude.
- FCIC Fumes at Goldman Sachs Politico's Jake Sherman writes of the subpoena, "The FCIC's chief compliant [sic?] appears to be that Goldman has been slow to respond to requests for information. The commission's top two officials said Goldman responds to document requests with large volumes of un-indexed records instead of targeted responses to specific questions. They called the company's efforts 'deliberate and disruptive' and 'abysmal, unacceptable.' Angelides likened Goldman's participation to pulling a dump truck up to their office and dumping 'a bunch of rubbish.'"
- FCIC Hasn't Been Great Itself The New York Times asks, "We also have to ask what took the commission so long ... In its own disturbing lack of transparency, the panel has not made the subpoena public. A summary on its Web site, posted late Monday, says that it is looking for information on Goldman's derivatives' deals and wants to interview Goldman's top executives and other employees with knowledge of specific transactions. The public clearly has the right to know those details and how they may have contributed to the financial crisis."
- Commission Is Struggling Time's Stephen Ganel writes, "The real question is what is the FCIC looking for, and does it even know. I know Goldman is enemy #1, but there are a lot of cops on that beat. And hasn't the SEC already found in Abacus as close to a smoking gun for Goldman as one will probably get. Now I would be all for the FCIC continuing with its Goldman inquiry if they knew of some document that would blow the Goldman case wide open. But from their press release it looks like they are still in fishing expedition mode."
- But They're Showing Promise The American Prospect's Tim Fernholz sees "a sign that we'll be seeing more attention for the FCIC's work. While a major early concern about the commission was that it would be irrelevant to the policy debates in Washington, it's clear that it has been able to drive the media discussion about financial reform more than most observers initially expected, which gives the commission's final report, due in December, a chance to impact both regulatory behavior and future reforms of the financial sector. "
- The Double Standard The Wall Street Journal's Michael Corkery sees "hardball" with Goldman and asks "why were those [FCIC] men last week playing softball when they greeted Warren Buffett at a commission hearing on the failures of the credit-rating providers. Like Goldman, Buffett also was subpoenaed by the commission. Buffett had to be subpoenaed not to turn over sensitive internal documents, a la Goldman, but merely to show up." He sighs, "Clearly there is a lot of competition among Goldman critics and investigators. So simply treading over the same ground as the others isn't going to generate headlines for the FCIC."
- Has Goldman Become Untouchable? Liberal blogger Chris in Paris writes of the FCIC's complain that Goldman isn't cooperating, "Why should they? Everyone in Washington made sure to avoid any strings being attached to the bailout that saved Wall Street and Goldman Sachs from ruin. The problem now is that Goldman is certain that it's above the law of the land. Unfortunately they're probably right as well. They know they can get away with anything because they are on the short list of 'even bigger than too big to fail' in the financial industry."