We already covered the highlights of what did happen when the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission grilled bankers yesterday. But what didn't? Here's what financial crisis-watchers think went glaringly unspoken in yesterday's attempt to plumb the causes of collapse.
- Fannie and Freddie "No witnesses from either of those major players in the subprime meltdown" were brought before the commission, notices the National Review's Iain Murray.
- Citigroup Likewise, "it was hard not to notice," writes The New Yorker's James Surowiecki, "the absence of Vikram Pandit, the C.E.O. of Citigroup." Though Pandit "only took over Citigroup in late 2007, by which point the groundwork for the crisis had long since been laid," Surowiecki thinks the absence "did feel a bit like an implicit commentary on Citigroup's much-diminished status."
- Apologies Commission member Phil Angelides "asked [Goldman CEO Lloyd] Blankfein to elaborate on his statement last year that 'we participated in things that were clearly wrong, and we have reasons to regret and apologize for.' Blankfein was not inclined to revisit this subject," notes The Washington Post's Dana Milbank scornfully. "He acknowledged that the firm 'contributed to elements of froth in the market.'"
- A Confirmation that the Crisis Was Caused by Moral Hazard "One of the more remarkable moments," says James Surowiecki, "came when Jamie Dimon, the C.E.O. of J.P. Morgan, said that his bank had never tested its portfolio against the possibility that housing prices would fall." If J.P. Morgan didn't test, others probably didn't either, Surowiecki argues. That means, points out the Free Exchange blog at The Economist--widely acknowledged to be the work of Ryan Avent--that if the bankers "couldn't conceive" of a housing market collapse, they also probably weren't figuring the government would bail them out if it happened. That, in turn, means that assumption of government bailout didn't lead banks to take undue risks--moral hazard may not have been a big factor.
- A Promise to Undo Bonuses "Everybody who's getting a bonus this year will be able to keep it," adds Fortune's Stanley Bing.