Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Double Dipping, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, and History by Commission

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty yesterday stoked the national conversation on recession and recovery -- as well as his own Presidential Campaign -- by suggesting that the nation was headed toward a "Double Dip," or a second recession coming after a short-term period of growth which itself followed a recession. This notion had also recently been voiced by mainstream media outlets such as the Christian Science Monitor and CNBC. With these fears spreading, patrons have the opportunity to inform themselves on the causes and outcomes of the most recent global recession.

The Government Information Library recently received its print copy of the final report of The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The report, whose full title is "The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report: Final report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States" is also available to download at the FCIC Web site, and via GPO's FDsys.

Click on the image to be taken to a downloadable version of the FCIC Report.

The Gov Info Library had first posted on the Commission in January of 2010, and a search for "Financial Crisis" here will reveal various reports and documents as far back as 2007 about how the Crisis promised to affect financial regulation in the United States, as well as economic crises that came later to the European Union and Mexico.

While not quite a layperson's guide, the Rport is helpful in making clear, and putting into detail, some of the now-familiar information about the mortgage crisis that followed the larger national economic decline. Below, for example, is a map from the chapter "The Foreclosure Crisis" showing states shaded by percent of loans with negative equity. Nevada's rate is visibly over 50%, with Colorado's percentage between 15-29% -- not a ranking to be proud of.

Another table from Chapter 7: The Mortgage Machine shows the sharp increase in "repo loans," or loans, according to the Report's glossary, "where the borrower sells securities to the lender as collateral and agrees to repurchase them at a higher price within a short period, often within one day."

While fully appreciating the scope of the FCIC Report -- involving a financial system that might be tough for even professional economists to unveil -- might be challenging, the document joins a list of those created by Commission whose topics are key to understanding American history. These documents reveal not only how the government sometimes fell far short of its goals, but also how deeply it disappointed its people -- either by passive response or negligence -- in ways citizens can still clearly remember. Below are several commonly known Commission reports notable for the deep impact the events they investigate have had on the American psyche.

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