Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Visits Bakersfield

Commission Tasked With Determining Cause, Effects of Economic Collapse

Last summer in the wake of the economic collapse, Congress and President Barack Obama established a commission to look into the causes of that collapse

Tuesday morning, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission held a hearing at the Board of Supervisors' Chambers. For the last year the commission has held hearings on everything from derivatives to shadow banking and bailouts.

The commission, chaired by former state treasurer Phil Angelides and former Bakersfield Congressman Bill Thomas, came to town to hear from those directly impacted by the financial collapse.

"ItÂ’s been a very illuminating day," Angelides said. "We've heard about the struggles of this town and we've heard about some of the challenges this community is facing."

The commission has been tasked with examining the "current financial and economic crisis", which includes the collapse of the housing market

Throughout the day, commissioners heard testimony from elected officials, community bankers and other local experts who experienced the bursting of the housing bubble first hand.

After Bakersfield, the commissioners will head to Las Vegas on Wednesday and Miami and Sacramento later this month to hear from the regular people caught up in bad lending practices and a down housing market.

"We didn't know at the time that the market was collapsing, we're just average people trying to live in a house and move," said Tehachapi resident Marie Vicelli.

Stories like that are all too common across the country, but our region gives the commission a very good look at how an area can be so negatively impacted by wall street and bad banking.

"Especially when you begin to look at the graphs that characterize the housing bubble that occurred here, we're almost a classic case study," Thomas said during a break in the hearing. "Between Bakersfield and Sacramento you have like six of the top 10 areas that were devastated."

"In the Central Valley 100,000 families have lost their homes," Angelides said. "And so we're really trying to find out what happened here at the ground level, taking a look at some of the reckless practices that led to this financial meltdown and to look at the consequences."

The commission's report is due on the president's desk on December 15th. Prior to Tuesday morning's field hearing the commission held more than a dozen hearings in New York and Washington.

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