In January 2011, a bipartisan, 10-member, government-created body called the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) issued a comprehensive report assigning blame for the 2008 financial meltdown. The main culprits: “widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision,” “dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions,” “a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency,” a government that “was ill prepared for the crisis,” and “a systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics.”
The four Republicans on the FCIC issued two dissents from the commission’s findings, the splashiest of which was a 93-page solo response from American Enterprise Institute (AEI) scholar Peter Wallison. The crisis, Wallison said, was caused mainly by the systemic failures of government housing policy. Wallison, who served as White House counsel and Treasury Department general counsel during the Reagan administration, sat down with Reason Foundation Director of Economic Research Anthony Randazzo on the one-year anniversary of the FCIC report in January to discuss the causes of the 2008 financial crisis, what to do about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the implications of the Dodd-Frank Act, among other topics.